Covid-19, Grandchildren & Chocolate Chip Cookies: My Fate Is In My Hand

So I learned today that the only thing standing between me and the promised land might be a chocolate chip cookie.

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Okay, I hate to sound all melodramatic. It’s just a sobering realization, if only because I know its precise genesis: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s assertion on Fox News that America’s economy will be severely crippled if we don’t reopen for business almost immediately.

If we all go back to work, Patrick said, we will all start spending money again and the last three weeks of the stock market will become just a bad dream.

Since presumably the entire country joins Lt. Gov. Patrick in wishing we could trade this new normal for the old normal, you’d think we’d be all-in on his plan — except for one teeny little hiccup that Patrick himself acknowledged.

If we all spill out of our homes and resume working, shopping, dining, drinking, attending shows and so on, that could exponentially increase the opportunities for this pesky coronavirus to infect millions more of us.

Since the virus can be lethal and we don’t yet have weapons with which to stop it, a lot more people could, you know, die.

Especially the “most vulnerable” population, that is, senior citizens.

Lt. Gov. Patrick addressed this problem by suggesting our mistake is considering it a problem.

If the price of getting the economy into gear is to put some grandparents in jeopardy, he said, hey, that’s an easy call. Catch you in the next life, Gramps.

He’d make that call for himself, Patrick said, and all his friends would do the same, because they all love their grandchildren and don’t want to leave them with a bad economy.

Personally, I would pause here to wonder how Lt. Gov. Patrick felt about the 2018 Trump tax cuts, which left those grandchildren with a trillion-dollar deficit from the hole those cuts blew in the federal budget.

Oh, and the new stimulus package could double or triple that deficit. Here y’are, grandkids! Enjoy!

Anyhow, back to my point. Ordinarily, a vague action plan from the lieutenant governor of Texas wouldn’t cause me much concern.

On this matter, however, Lt. Gov. Patrick seems to be in close harmony with President Donald Trump, who hours later was saying he wants the business world humming again by Easter, about two and a half weeks from now.

Most health professionals, including Trump’s own medical point man, Dr. Anthony Fauci, talk more in terms of months. But Trump, already annoyed that the coronavirus didn’t follow his initial instructions and disappear, clearly has no interest in waiting that long.

He talks like a man who will tell the malls and tattoo parlors to reopen the minute he thinks they would actually do it.

As for that “other” hiccup, he promised in a tweet that when we do resume comingling, all those seniors “will be watched over lovingly and protectively.”

Maybe this means all seniors will be assigned a young healthy companion who will periodically mist them with sanitizers and disinfectants.

I’m thinking it sounds more like the “thoughts and prayers” routinely sent to, say, families of mass shooting victims. Or maybe the kind of loving protection we showed to the 700,000 families that were recently kicked off food stamps.

Therefore, with the Patrick-Trump remarks in mind, I think I need to ask myself whether I want to risk the ultimate sacrifice so my grandchildren can have a more robust economy, give or take those trillion-dollar IOUs.

And I think I know my answer: No. I like it here.

But then I think, well, maybe I shouldn’t make this decision unilaterally. Maybe the grandchildren should get a vote.

Since there are five of them, that’s a gamble. Five out of six votes would be a veto-proof majority.

What I need, then, is the strongest argument I can find for keeping me around.

Which would be chocolate chip cookies.

Truth is, there’s no way to tell whether grandchildren notice you once they become teenagers and young adults. That’s not a criticism. They’re not being rude. They’re just elsewhere. It’s an age when your life develops so much high-voltage drama, good or bad, that it can crowd out everything else.

So a grandparent needs evidence that he or she still has potential relevance.

A few years ago, that might have been driving them somewhere. Now it’s down to chocolate chip cookies — which I know all five have at some point enjoyed.

That may not still be true. But maybe when the vote comes, they won’t only be thinking that I can’t bike a hundred miles, or I’m not on Instagram. Maybe they will be thinking that every so often the world can use a good chocolate chip cookie.

The trick, by the way, is to add a little coconut. It helps keep them moist. Wish me luck.

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David Hinckley wrote for the New York Daily News for 35 years. Now he drives his wife crazy by randomly quoting Bob Dylan and “Casablanca.”

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