Photo: Carolyn Raship

Scenes From Quarantine

9 weeks in 2020. 12 essays. Covid-19.

John DeVore
76 min readDec 20, 2021


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Prologue: December 19th, 2021

When I first heard this joke, it was about a Jewish man and kugel. But then I recently read this version in a messageboard:

A man in Mexico was on his deathbed when he suddenly smelled tamales. His favorite food. He flung himself out of bed and dragged himself to the kitchen where he saw his wife busy cooking. With his last bit of strength, he reached for a tamale and his hand was immediately smacked with a wooden spoon.

“Those are for the funeral.”

I laughed. It spoke to me.

A few days ago, I dragged myself to a clinic to get a COVID-19 test. The line stretched around the block, and it took almost three hours. Afterward, I emotionally ate two slices of pizza, one right after the other. On the street. Both pepperoni. There will be free pizza at my funeral. And tamales. Kugel, too. This essay is legally binding.

It’s been almost two years since the highly-contagious coronavirus was first discovered and then spread worldwide. Since then, 800,000 Americans have died during the ensuing pandemic. Over five million people around the world have perished.

I have received three vaccine shots, the most recent being a “booster” to protect against virus variants. The newest mutation — Omicron, which sounds like a Transformer— is currently surging through New York City. I know, right now, at least a half-dozen people, all vaxxed, have come down with this new illness. The symptoms are milder, or so I hear.

Of course, the word “mild” has two meanings now. The first definition is, you know, “not severe,” but it can also mean “not in a medically-induced coma.”

A couple of weeks ago, my life was almost normal. Kinda sorta. I wore masks on the subway, yes. I should have been doing that for years. I shudder to think of what I caught down there. My vaccination card was checked before entering movies, where I also wore my…



John DeVore

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