Fredericton — Across the Picture Province, residents are doing their best to remember what it was they used to talk about with friends, family and co-workers before the pandemic hit.
“It’s almost like I woke up one day with my memory wiped,” said Beth LeClair of Nackawic. “One moment the ‘novel coronavirus’ was this far-off thing happening in China, and the next I was on lockdown, living and breathing all things COVID-19.
“I think I had a life, thoughts and ideas before all this, but I don’t really know what that involved. I called my friend to catch up — she used to give me juicy details about her dating life, but now she doesn’t even use Tinder because of the virus — and all I could think to say was, ‘How’s quarantine treating you?’ She wasn’t into it and just hung up on me.”
Some say the monotony of the single subject is taking a big toll, though they admit they have no tangible suggestions for anything better to discuss.
“I’d cut off my left arm if it meant I’d never again have to hear about ‘the new normal’ or ‘the efforts to contain COVID-19’ or see pictures of everyone’s shitty pandemic bread they’re baking,” expressed Tyler Erikson of Fredericton. “I get it — the economy is screwed, Zoom is the worst, sports and concerts are cancelled forever — but surely to god there must be something else to discuss?! Like…um…hmm…like maybe…uh…okay, I give up.”
Recently, the province was moved to the “yellow” phase, meaning friends and family could gather in groups of up to 50 outdoors, or 10 indoors.
“We can have gatherings now, which is nice, but socializing is tough when there’s literally only one topic of conversation,” said Moncton man Arnold Wyatt. “I don’t want to be a dull host, but for the life of me I can’t recall anything else we used to discuss…? Should I even bother putting out a cheese plate and opening the wine if we’re just going to talk about new cases, testing, self-isolation, quarantining, and that goddamn Campbellton doctor until everyone passes out from boredom?”
Wyatt says he distinctly remembers being a good conversationalist, in “the before times.”
“Everyone loved coming to my parties. I’d engage people with my charming anecdotes and could debate any topic. Now there’s nothing much to debate except whether we should open borders to temporary foreign workers and whether hand sanitizer is better than hand soap. And I don’t have any opinions on these matters. Well no interesting ones, anyway.”
Many New Brunswickers are fondly remembering when other, less terrible topics dominated the news cycle and conversations.
“You know, I’d settle for anything else to talk about — remember when everyone just went on about Pokémon Go for a while there?” asked Myra Jones of Riverview. “Or about teens eating Tide Pods? Or the U.S. presidential election? What would it take to bring that stupid shit back? I guess we didn’t know how lucky we were!”