Day 42 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Sunday, April 26, 2020 – Live to Blog from a Home Studio

#alonetogether

Yesterday, on the occasion of my 40th consecutive blog, I was invited to join radio legend, Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum for an interview on his award-winning program, “Truth Be Told.” The text of that interview is the content of today’s blog.


Tom with Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum on “Truth Be Told”
  • Winthrop: Welcome to “Truth Be Told.” I’m Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum, radio legend who is often mistaken for Matt Damon. Today’s guest is Tom Klaus. For the past 40 days Tom has been writing a daily blog series titled, “Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place.” In today’s show I’m going to get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but truth behind this blog. Welcome Tom Klaus. Thank you for joining me via Zoom so we can maintain an appropriate physical distance.
  • Me: Thank you, Mr. Dijkstra-Baum. I think I’m glad to be here.
  • Winthrop: I’m sure you are not only glad but honored to be here. And, please, let’s not be so formal. Please call me Winthrop.
  • Me: Sure, Winnie, no problem.
  • Winthrop: No, please call me “Winthrop,” not “Winnie.”
  • Me: My apologies. I’ll try to remember that.
  • Winthrop: Thank you. Tom, I’ve been reading your blog but, really, I don’t know why. You describe it as drivel and that seems very accurate. In fact, you often call it a “cup of drivel” comprised of a quarter cup humor, a quarter cup personal, a quarter cup truth, and a quarter cup rant. Tell me why I…or anyone, for that fact…should take the time to read your “drivel.”
  • Me: That’s actually a really good question, “Winthrop.” I’m surprised!
  • Winthrop: Well, I’m surprised you are passing your “drivel” off as anything that is worth anyone’s time. Just answer my question.
  • Me: Winnie, there is no need to get touchy. I’m happy to answer the question.
  • Winthrop: Fine…and, please, do not call me “Winnie.”
  • Me: Well, “Winthrop,” I’m not sure it is worthy of anyone’s time to read. I started writing it for myself on St. Patrick’s Day. I just needed a diversion from the COVID-19 pandemic. I was feeling stressed and anxious. When I feel that way, I usually try to do something creative or play golf. I can’t play golf right now so I decided to write the blog. I’m as surprised as anyone that so many people are reading it. I’ve been blogging on and off for years but this is the first time I’ve had so many regular readers.
  • Winthrop: Why did you start it on St. Patrick’s Day? Were you drunk or something?
  • Me: Uh…no. The strongest thing I drink is Diet Pepsi. It was just a coincidence. I had just returned from a work trip to Mississippi on the 15th. The following day, March 16th, was when it was first strongly “suggested” by the Governor of Maryland that people over 60 stay at home. The idea hit me on the 16th and so I started writing on the 17th.
  • Winthrop: So why do you think people are wasting their time now with your blog?
  • Me: Two things, “Winthrop.” First, people may have a little more time right now to read blogs and articles on line. Second, I think it has also become a diversion for a number of people…at least, that is what they tell me.
  • Winthrop: Okay, let’s break it down to its parts. Tell me about the humor. I’ve read your blog and, frankly, I don’t find it to be funny most of the time if at all. In fact, what you pass off as humor seems amateurish and even junior high-ish. What do you find so funny about your “humor”? And why do you think anyone else would find it funny? Especially this stupid “Chickenman?”
  • Me: So, “Winthrop,” the blog is written off the cuff. It’s very stream of consciousness. When something strikes me as funny, I ask myself if others might find it funny, too. If the answer to that question is “yes,” I include it in the blog. You know, I try to make sure it is “gentle humor” without an edge. I’m not sure we can handle too much edgy humor right now. That’s why I try to stay away from political humor – though there is a lot of it out there. The circumstances right now are too tragic and so I think the humor has be on the gentle side. Maybe it is just too gentle for you “Winthrop”?
  • Winthrop: No, it’s not that. It just isn’t that funny and neither are you.
  • Me: Well, “Winthrop,” you don’t have to personalize your opinion.
  • Winthrop: Whatever. Now, let’s talk about the quarter cup of personal. You seem to be telling a lot stories about you, your spouse, Clemencia, and your dogs – the Girls – Dolly and Madison. What’s that about?
  • Me: That’s simple. For many years I’ve traveled a lot for my work. Now, for the first time in our lives, we are together 24/7 everyday. It’s actually been really wonderful. We get to have every meal together, we stay busy with our work, we take time to walk the Girls together, watch our favorite shows and movies together, and go for walks just by ourselves for exercise. The personal quarter cup is just supposed to be a glimpse into our lives of sheltering-in-place during this pandemic.
  • Winthrop: Okay! You “say” Clemencia is busy with work…but, in truth, didn’t she retire? You need to tell the truth!
  • Me: What? I’m not evading the truth, “Winthrop.” She is retired and she has been doing other work. She teaches Spanish language classes online. She has about 55 students and teaches seven classes a week. Sorry, “Winthrop,” there is nothing to hide there. When she isn’t preparing classes or teaching, she does some work for me and, of course, she reads the blog before it goes out to anyone else.
  • Winthrop: Fine. Let’s talk about what you call the quarter cup of rants. Why do even feel the need to include any ranting?
  • Me: That’s simple, “Winthrop.” I’m angry. I’m angry at this situation we are all in. It was all so unnecessary, and yet, here we are. You know, we live in one of the two biggest hotspots for COVID-19 in Maryland. Our zip code has over 165 confirmed cases. Including the six zip codes that touch ours, there are over 1,000 cases. Countywide we have nearly 5,000 cases and we have over 170 confirmed and probable deaths by COVID-19. We are not at all close to “flattening the curve.” I’m angry and I have to confess to feeling afraid. So occasionally I blow off some steam.
  • Winthrop: Whoa, buddy, cool down! What makes you think anyone wants to read your rants anymore than they want to read your “humor”?
  • Me: Look, I try to keep the rants to a minimum because I think people read just for the diversion. When I do rant, I try to maintain some perspective. That’s not to say I don’t have strong opinions about what is happening, why it is happening, and who is responsible. I do. However, we are already deep in this mess. Alot of people are dying and many more are going to die. Right now, ranting about how we got here doesn’t do any good. All of us – regardless of political party, philosophy, religion, or favorite football team – are in this mess with one another. It is an “all hands on deck” moment regardless of who you are and what you think. Blaming doesn’t help anything right now. At this moment we have got to put those differences aside, listen to the health professionals, and work together if we want to come out of this with as few deaths as possible.
  • Winthrop: We’ve only got a few minutes left so I want to move on to the last quarter cup you talk about – truth. It seems to me, Tom, that you are, in fact, telling us you don’t tell the truth in the blog. If you did, it would be a full cup of truth wouldn’t it? You aren’t always being truthful, are you?
  • Me: Look, “Winthrop.” The title of this series is “Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place.” I’m not a journalist, I’m telling stories. I can tell you that the stories are usually based on something that actually happened. I will sometimes spice them up a bit to make them less mundane and more enjoyable.
  • Winthrop: I knew it! That’s the truth! You don’t tell the truth! You even make up characters don’t you?
  • Me: What are you talking about, “Winthrop?” What characters?
  • Winthrop: Don’t deny it! You know what I’m talking about. “Bert (Left)” and “Ernie (Right)” your unwashed socks that mumble and have begun to talk to you. And then there are the Spanish speaking socks, “Beto” and “Enrique.” And what about Alonzo and Starlee. They can’t be real with names like that!
  • Me: Oh, you mean like…you, “Winthrop”? You are also a creation of my imagination. I made you up after I put my own name into the Public Radio Name Generator and – bam! – there you were!
  • Winthrop: I knew it! I knew I would catch you in a lie, Klaus, because that’s what I do! Obviously you didn’t make me up because I am here – Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum – and you are on the radio with me right now.
  • Me: Nope, made that up too, “Winnie.” May I call you “Winnie?”
  • Winthrop: No! You may NOT call me “Winnie!”
  • Me: Of course I can…I made you up!
  • Winthrop: No, you didn’t! Liar!
  • Me: Whatever…
  • Winthrop: That’s all the time we have today for “Truth Be Told.” Once again I have exposed the lies around us and forced the liars to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Thanks to today’s liar, Tom Klaus, for being with me today. This is Winthrop Dijstra-Baum for “Truth Be Told” on the KOVD radio network at 1900 on AM radio.

The Adventures of Chickenman – Episode 11

Chickenman takes a bus from the Stranglers lair back to Midland City’s City Hall. However, his presence on the bus causes a stir when the other riders want to know if he can really fly and, if so, why does he ride the bus.

This one is for Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum since he “likes” Chickman so much.


On a Personal Note

At some point everyone is going to be touched personally by the COVID-19 pandemic. It became ever more personal last night for Clemencia and me when we learned of the death of a friend from it. She was one of the first people we met and got to know when we started attending Sandy Spring Friends Meeting. She was a smart, sweet, and deeply compassionate person. Only a few days ago we learned she had tested positive for the virus. Today, during our Meeting for Worship via Zoom, we were all grieving her loss.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and be careful that you don’t pay too much attention to Winthrop Dikstra-Baum.

Tom

4 thoughts on “Day 42 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place”

  1. What a fascinating existential question, Mike! It makes me think of the ending of one of the Men in Black movies where we learn that an entire world exists within one of the guy’s lockers. A theological response be that the concept of imago dei suggests that we out of the imagination of God. That seems awfully deep for me on a Monday morning though!

  2. One effect of today’s blog is, I am wondering if someone made me up. Hiw can Ifind out? Does pinching work? Tellit to me straight Tom, Icantake it!

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