Best Hits of the Pandemic

COVID may be “over” but these moments will stay with us

Paul Greenberg


Here’s looking at you, cat

What single word would you use to decribe the 2020–2022 COVID pandemic? What would unite right and left, cautious and cavalier, science-based and conspiracy-theory-prone?

Let’s go with “absurd.”

Absurd because every new act in the ridiculous months that stretched into years effectively betrayed the act that preceded it. Absurd because, as in an Ionesco play, one character started doing something utterly bizarre only to see that behavior normalized and become the standard for the entire cast. Absurd because no one betrayed their own double-speak publicly. Everyone held their party line even if that line came to resemble the wavy curves of a roller coaster ride straight to hell.

And so when we look back at the cultural moments of the pandemic, it’s of course to the theater of the absurd that we must turn to try to, well, not exactly rationalize it all. But, maybe put a parenthesis around this black hole of time and space. Let’s then briefly review some of the greatest cultural hits of the pandemic, partly for old times sake, but partly to remember how nonsensical we can all become given the right circumstances.

When a Lawyer Became a Cat

Remember when we just decided that everything, everything, would be converted from in person to online? Who made this decision exactly? Why was indoors and outdoors suddenly not safe? Why did public toilets go uncleaned and recreational centers unopened long after risk levels dropped to acceptable levels? Why do some of those places remain uncleaned and unopened today? I don’t know. Ask the lawyer who couldn’t turn off the cat filter option on zoom when he appeared before a district court in Texas.

When the News Became a Play Pen

Who was that mysterious woman who slid in on socks to retrieve the toddler and self-propelled infant in a rolly-thingy…



Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World