Are You Ready to Die for Your Country?

Covid Diaries — Part 1

I am sitting up in bed.

It is Monday, March 16. On Friday, I had surgery to fix a groin hernia.

I showed up at the hospital early in the morning that day with my wife and father were in tow. At the hospital, they told my dad he could not come in.

“Coronavirus is forcing us to limit entry.”

This was news to me. The day before, the hospital had called.

“What the fuck do you want?” I asked.

“Hey asshole,” the person from the hospital said. “Don’t bring too many people with you when you come tomorrow. Two people, max. We don’t need every jerkoff in New Jersey in here while the coronavirus is raging.”

“Okay you fucking prick, sounds good.”

Then I hung up.

Actually, that didn’t happen at all. But they did call and tell me I could only bring two people. Because of the virus, you see.

But I guess shit was hitting the fan fast. So, my dad stayed downstairs and I went up. What the fuck was he gonna do up there anyway. Right, nothing, so fuck it.

Upstairs, I spent about fifteen minutes in the waiting room, a sparsely decorated space with a bunch of magazines laying around that I didn’t even know were still in print. While brushing up on world politics, my name was called.

I went to the front. They asked if I was ready to die for my country. I said I was and then they sent me into another room where they told me to put on a hospital gown.

I put the gown on. You’ve seen a hospital gown before, I’m sure. The back was open, my ass was exposed. It’s a pretty nice ass, though I’m probably a tad biased, but I must say that whoever designed the hospital gown had to be a man. And it had to have designed this way intentionally.

So there I was, admiring my own ass, when the nurse came in. She told me to lay on the bed. I did. Then I just laid there for what felt like two hours before two other nurses came in. They put anesthesia in my IV. I passed out. I woke up.

Now I was lying in bed, my eyes closed, woozy. What felt like minutes was actually hours. The surgery was complete.

A nurse was tending to me. She sounded Filipino. I asked — “Are you Filipino.”

And she was like — “I am Filipino.”

And I was like — “Hey, you know about the Filipino grocery store that just opened in Clifton? It’s a pretty good store.”

She laughed. The white guy was gonna tell her about Filipino stores. Haha.

“That store is already closed,” she said. “There is a better one in Bloomfield.”

“I’ll check that out,” I said.

Then they wheeled me into a recovery room. No, it was not a room filled with people talking about how long they’ve been without a drink. It was actually just another room with a bed.

“Wait here until you have to urinate,” they said.

I was like, shit, that could be hours. I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since the night before.

So, I waited. And waited. And waited. My stomach was very sore. I was able to walk, but only gingerly, and needed help.

At around 4 PM, I had to pee. And I did. It was a nice, healthy pee. I was proud of it. You would be too.

Then I left.

At home that night, I had a slice of pizza and went to sleep. I don’t know why I wanted pizza, I just did.

Between then and now I have mostly eaten pizza and candy. It’s not a diet I recommend although I have to say it’s pretty satisfying. Other than that, I’ve slept and stared at my phone.

I guess you could say nothing has changed. But then, everything actually has.

The big problem right now is not me but the world. The coronavirus is raging and the entire country appears to be shut down. The economy has crashed. Stores, restaurants and bars are closed. Schools and places of worship are not functioning. Things are in disarray.

I was not worried about coronavirus last week and even this week am not. The chances of getting it seem slim, about as slim as catching the flu, but people are losing their shit.

Most countries have suspended air travel. In New York, it is illegal to gather in groups larger than 50. And in New Jersey, there is an 8 PM curfew.

It is possible that my surgery will be one of the last surgeries in that hospital for some time.

The whole world has gone mad. But when has it ever not been?

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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