By Tim Hayes

Glancing through the news items online the other day, one headline virtually leaped off the screen and emblazoned itself onto my eyeballs.

“In Midst of Pandemic, Sales of Spam Skyrocket.”

Huh? Did I read that properly? Spam? That slimy canned chunk of ground-up pig parts that they couldn’t find anything else to do with or call?

Why would a worldwide viral pandemic cause anybody – anybody – to load up on Spam, of all things?

I took it as one more sign of the apocalypse. The world has lost its collective mind. Up is down, white is black, Spam is popular. Who knew?

The thought came to me of the famous swimming pool scene in “The Graduate,” where an older businessman, trying to inspire Dustin Hoffmann’s character about launching a successful career, leans in and says, “One word: Plastics.”

Now’s the time to invest in the “plastics” of 2020, gang – Spam! God help us.

Even more proof that Planet Earth has careened off its axis came this past week as the price of oil nose-dived into negative territory. Oil! The currency of the world. The cause of spectacularly soaring heights of capitalistic riches, as well as much of the world’s pollution problem. Black gold. Texas tea. Now worth less than nothing?

A columnist jokingly wondered whether the next time he stopped into his favorite convenience store, would he see, next to the checkout counter, potato chips, beef jerky, and a barrel of oil? And the oil would be the cheapest of the three? Then a cartoon in the newspaper showed a customer asking a gas station clerk, “I just filled my tank. How much do you owe me?”

Who’da thunk it?

This week, Target reported that online purchases in the first quarter soared by 100 percent, while in-store sales plummeted by more than 25 percent. More billions got voted for small business relief in Congress, while calls for certain states to declare bankruptcy could also be heard.

Harvard University, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House each was shamed into returning millions in stimulus loans meant for mom-and-pop businesses, while some governors said – with a straight face – that hair stylists and tattoo artists could open for business while maintaining a six-foot distance from their customers. That would be some trick, don’t you think?

The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that all laws of physics, economics, logic, human compassion, and common sense are hereby suspended! It’s every man for himself! If I’ve got mine, then who cares if you’ve gotten yours! And get your damn hands off my Spam!

Want some tough love truth?

The virus is here and it’s here to stay until a vaccine can be developed, tested properly, then administered to people around the world. Anybody who thinks that’s happening by May 1 is officially invited to the funny farm.

In the meantime, a short-term stopgap method of establishing a slow, careful, strategically and scientifically sound way of picking ourselves up off the mat must come in the form of a reliable, safe, medically proven means of treating the virus. But that’s not a matter of snapping one’s fingers, either.

For now, we find ourselves struggling to cope in a topsy-turvy, upside-down, anarchic situation. A world where oil is worthless and a gross hunk of pinkish quasi-meat sits at the top of the heap. I’m afraid to see what comes next.

Vegas oddsmakers say: Frogs and Locusts. Gosh, I hope they like Spam.

Copyright 2020 Timothy P. Hayes