Rick's Space: A pandemic and a case of tuna

The Light Stuff




Since my parents were both in the medical biz, I’d always been aware of communicable viruses, flus, and diseases growing up.

Whatever communicable disease was out there, I was convinced I had it. “Ma! Ma! I have chicken pox!” I remember crying out in grade school.

“No, son, you have pimples,” she replied.

Then I remember thinking I had the measles. “Am I gonna die if I get pregnant?” I asked, after my father told me German measles could be a serious ailment indeed for a would-be mother.

“You aren’t getting pregnant,” my sister Phyllis assured me. “You’re too ugly.”

I finally convinced myself I had Irish-Italian measles, which was hardly reassuring: Mrs. Lynch next door had nine kids in eight years. I’ll probably get pregnant just sitting on the porch next to her, ugly or not, I figured.

The number one cause of death in history was deadly bubonic plague in the 14th and 15th centuries that wiped out nearly one-half the population of Europe.

The extremely contagious pneumonic plague caused oozing swellings all over the body. It could be contracted by merely sneezing or spitting, and caused victims’ lungs to fill up. Eventually your skin turned black (usually within two to three weeks) and you died. They blamed the whole thing on rats. “You dirty rat,” one wise-guy said on his deathbed in words that have become immortalized.

All this is a prelude to Coronavirus, which is hovering around us as I write.

An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the population. There have been about nine influenza pandemics during the last 300 years, and this is why everyone is so worried.

Well-meaning citizen groups are getting out of hand. There is an online drive underway calling for a boycott of Corona Beer, which is silly. Everyone knows it’s the lime we have to worry about.

Consider the plight of Constellation Brands, hired to do a marketing push for Corona Hard Seltzer. The tagline is, “Coming ashore soon.” Folks on Twitter were highly critical, claiming it was in poor taste or that it was “bad timing.” Imagine if the product launch was in Dead Horse, NY or West Slickpoo, ID (real places). I mean, I can see East Slickpoo but jeez . . . Another thought: Change the name of the drink to “Astoria.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, who is always advancing the political football, held a news conference and demanded all senior citizens be given a Coronavirus vaccine paid for by Medicare. One problem, the Health Department pointed out, is there hasn’t been a vaccine developed yet. We can, however, give you something to make your breasts bigger and those lines under your eyes disappear, if that helps.

Karen ordered a case of tuna in case we have to quarantine ourselves inside our house. I kid you not. Here is the problem with Karen doing anything with food: She wants to poison me. In this case, she paid $37.95 for a case of 24. I knew without asking. “Let me guess. You didn’t get the good stuff.” (If you haven’t guessed, we’ve been through this before.)

Karen: “No I got the good stuff. Light. Packed in oil!”

Wrong. As most connoisseurs know, Chunk White Albacore Tuna is the benchmark, and I love a nice cold tuna salad sandwich on a fresh Kaiser roll, though an Irish-American roll will do. (See recipe below.)

Light Tuna can be a mix of a variety of smaller tuna species, most often skipjack, but may also include yellowfin, tongol, or big-eye. It is greasy and smells like my sister. It is often on sale. Cats won’t eat light tuna. We have to starve my grandmother for a full week before she’ll swallow any down.

You know how you go to the beach sometimes in the summer and the dog comes back covered in dead fish and smells like Moby Dick for a month afterwards? She was probably rolling around in light tuna packed in oil.

It’s .99 cents a can, on sale for .49. Sometimes they just give it to you. I’d rather die from Black Plague, Measles, Small Pox, or even Penis Envy than eat a sliver of light tuna. Now we have a case of it and we’re facing a pandemic. Woe is f**k**g me.

If you need it: two cans of chunk Albacore, one stalk of celery, finely diced, half shallot finely diced, a dollop of sour cream, two tablespoons of mayo, a drop of Maille mustard. Add a of couple flakes of carrot for color and texture. Serve cold on a warm roll.

Stay cool. Hopefully Coronavirus moves on without touching our lives out here.

See you on the other side.

Keep in touch with yourself — but wash your hands.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com