I met Bob Satuloff, a musical theater writer and founder of Bob’s Walk-in Drive-in, when I was in my late teens and he was a client of my mother’s, a literary and theatrical agent. We reconnected on Facebook a few years ago. It is a delight to have him in my life again. I’m sure my mother would be pleased.
The New Courtesy
by Bob Satuloff, Brooklyn NY
A 77-year-old Brooklynite, I consider myself on the CDC’s Most Wanted List, but I feel fatalistic and only infrequently paranoid about my chances of becoming infected. I wash my hands constantly, thinking of Lady Macbeth every time, and when I go out to walk Tashi, my Tibetan Spaniel, I’m masked and gloved like some parody of the Lone Ranger. Considering how trapped at home many people are feeling, I’m a relatively happy camper. I’m the only human on the premises, which simplifies things, and I’m retired.
Under normal circumstances, I don’t live all that differently than I have over the last several weeks, except for restaurant meals with friends and the weekly meetings of the Friday night movie group I’ve been hosting for the past dozen years. On top of that, I’m an only child, which is in itself a meditation on keeping oneself engaged without peers around. I consider it a great advantage, enjoy being alone and am grateful to my parents for not having more kids. And when I say I own an inordinate amount of DVDs and Blu-rays, I’m not kidding. The hardest part of this confinement is not being able to see my long-distance boyfriend, who is 74 and lives in Boston. We’ve been exchanging four-day visits for the past several years, but we haven’t been able to see each other in three months.
I tend to ask everyone I talk to if they’ve been having weird dreams, and I’ve yet to hear someone say no. The reality of Trump alone is enough to warp any psyche, but the uncertainty of what lies ahead for us as a democracy, a culture, a stable framework to hang our lives on, is for sure going to haunt us for a long while. Yet, without being too Pollyanna-ish about it, friends and neighbors are solicitous and there’s a group of young professionals in my neighborhood who have banded together to shop for people who need to remain at home, take and pick up laundry, and deliver prescriptions. There’s enough kindness and community to provide some balance, as well as something I call the New Courtesy—two people staying to either side of a narrow Brooklyn sidewalk as they pass each other. Since we don’t know how long this is going to last or what it’s going to lead to, we can only keep ourselves occupied and stay as connected to the world outside our windows as we can.