The news that my favorite city to visit is slamming the drapes shut, killing the lights and pretending they’re not home has pinched my pride a bit. I can’t honestly blame New York, though. We Southern states have misbehaved and now we’re in “time out” like a bunch of moonshine-addled toddlers because of a mighty spike in our Coronavirus cases.

    It’s weird to be on the outside looking in. We’re not wanted? Are you kidding me? That’s OUR line. We’ve even bragged about building walls to keep the undesirables out. You must have confused us with someone else. Someone less.

Nope, we’re the ones with cooties now. Even our tourism dollars aren’t worth dying for apparently. We thought we were special but, of course, we’re not. Thinking we could arrogantly frolic in malls and beaches like normal has backfired like a ’72 Chevy Vega. It might be time for Bubba to admit that not wearing a mask because it violates his sacred freedom to be a complete jerk was, ahem, ill-considered.

Bad enough we Southerners have been banned from New York, Connecticut and, God help us, NEW JERSEY, but now we learn the entire European Union went all mean girls on us and has announced, for now, no Americans will be allowed to visit. We can’t sit at the lunch table so we should just take our trays over to the corner and eat by the trashcan. While Europe’s Covid cases plummet, ours spike because, as a nation, we’ve done a colossally awful job of staying home, social distancing and wearing masks.

    They’ve seen our inability to do the simplest things to prevent the pandemic’s spread and now the rest of the world is looking at us like we’re several sandwiches short of a picnic. Sadly, they’re not wrong.

The whole thing has convinced me of this: We need to stipulate that about 10 percent of us are just plain stupid. Maybe more, but I’m trying to be charitable here. I’m remembering all the sermons I’ve heard over the years in which we are asked to step back and try to “find the face of God” in every human. It’s unspoken that this includes “even the exceptionally horrible ones who, when instructed to wear a mask, respond by throwing a cartful of groceries onto the floor at Trader Joe’s.”

Tell the truth. You thought our American specialness would get us out of this mess by now, didn’t you? Our non-mask-wearing president claimed Covid-19 would just “magically disappear” one day. Much as I have hoped his presidency would. Alas, wrong on both counts. We’re not back where we started in March; we’re worse off. Now we have friends IRL fighting it while locked in their bedrooms. Oh. Our bad.

When this is all over– thanks to science, not magical thinking and Lysol enemas– let’s remember what it felt like to be an outsider not welcome in other cities, countries. And grow a little compassion.

CELIA RIVENBARK turned her office into a bathroom this summer. Potty humor no more, I guess.