How to Survive a COVID Winter/ essay; humor by Garrison Botts

  • Watch YouTube videos of baby chimpanzees being tickled and giggling with delight. Research the pros and cons of getting your own baby chimp.
  • Resolve to finally learn what all the different varietals of wine actually taste like. Be disciplined. See it through until the end.
  • Pretend you’re in the witness protection program and the neighbors don’t know who you really are. When they call you by name, don’t respond, and when they ask about your background, feed them conflicting information. Watch their suspicions grow.
  • Go out into the 16 inches of snow and scream your head off at the deer. They will barely register your existence, but you’ll feel exorcised of any inner torment.
  • Do the pony.
  • Prepare to become a contestant on the Great British Baking Show. Practice recipes for sponges, puddings and scones, and rehearse charming little quips for when your bakes totally fail.
  • Spend hours looking through the complete collection of The New Yorker cartoons, trying not to question your intelligence or sense of irony when you find some of them incomprehensible. 
  • Explore cures for boredom headaches, including the ancient method of drilling holes in your skull to release pressure and expel evil spirits.
  • Do the swim.
  • Fantasize that, out of nowhere, the Obamas show up on your doorstep. As you go to greet them, you suddenly lose your ability to speak and fall over backwards.
  • Consider all the icicles hanging from your house and find out whether or not they really would make the perfect murder weapon.
  • Play and replay Is That All There Is by Peggy Lee until your partner bangs on the door and asks if you have gone crazy.
  • Recall Oscar Wilde’s rumored last words as he lay dying of cerebral meningitis: “This wallpaper will be the death of me. One of us will have to go.” 
  • Order chocolate babka from New York City even if the cost of shipping is more than the pastry itself.
  • Make a list of songs you would like played at your funeral (just in case). Currently under consideration: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Enough is Enough, and should your partner predecease you: Is That All There Is.
  • Get together with your Zoom Buddhist group and chuckle about emptiness.
  • Contemplate this Zen anecdote: Seeing his master on the other side of a raging torrent, a student waved his arms and shouted out, “Master, master, how do I get to the other side?” The master smiled and said, “You are on the other side.”

Garrison Botts lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with his husband of 39 years. His short memoirs and essays have been published in The Thieving Magpie, The Tishman ReviewChelsea Station, and the Hamilton Stone Review.

One thought

  1. reading from the ‘other side’ your helpful suggestions which became something to do to survive more moments, though winter appears to be gone after 11 AM on recent days… and it’s now 2PM so i should go outside, aka the ‘other side’ of inside.


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