Dear Vietnam War,
Thank you. As a result of the damage you did to my dad, who then passed on essential catastrophizing lessons to me, I’ve never felt more at ease during these unprecedented times.
Thanks to you, Vietnam War, social distancing is a cinch. I don’t have to worry about unknown enemies these days because I’m keeping my usual six feet of space, just like Daddy taught me. Now I finally know why I’ve been avoiding people for all these years. They’re covered in germs!
The dog tags were a genius idea too, Vietnam War. My dad came home and created a special homemade one for me. He wrote my name, address and phone number on a piece of paper, and I kept it in the back pocket of my shorts. Therefore, whenever I went out to play, I was prepared in case “something terrible happened.” Those EMTs would always know who to call after they arrived at the scene of my murder, car accident or pediatric heart attack. Don’t worry, Vietnam War. I still have that note in my back pocket just in case I’m suddenly stricken with the virus. I’ve got this.
Vietnam War, you were exceptionally talented at teaching me to never trust the government. Thanks to the damage you did to my dad, who then passed it down to me, I’m not the slightest bit hopeful for a vaccine. Even if scientists do create one, I doubt I’d ever get it. Remember, when the government claimed Agent Orange was safe?
Because of you, Vietnam War, my dad prepared me to have a Go-Bag ready. With M.A.S.H. playing on the television, he showed me how to stuff my school bag full of non-perishables, extra clothes, masks and mace. Like directed, the bag is still hidden underneath my bed next to an oversized flashlight. I bet you already knew this Vietnam War, but a giant flashlight can work in two ways — illumination and beating off rapists.
Why the backpack, you ask? Why would I flee? Where am I going? I never knew. Just like I never knew why my father gifted me with a generator on my 40th birthday. It sits unused next to the cold weather kit, fire safety ladders and Survival in a Bottle. While most kids were sent off into the world with hope, I was sent off with a vague sense of dread and a moving truck full of apoplectic gear.
Forget what the psychiatrists told me about that morbid sense of dread emotionally damaging my developing brain. My childhood was like a boot camp preparing me for this day. I know exactly how to be properly terrified. High stress is my security blanket.
I’m ready for the worst. Just like the Vietnam War always taught me to be.
— Keri Kelly
Keri Kelly is a professor, award-winning author, comedy writer and mom. When she’s not writing, Keri can be found surfing small waves with her kiddos and fist-pumping at the Jersey Shore. Learn more and say hello at www.kerikelly.com.