Conversation with Corona


Meet Vinnie d’Virus

(Editor’s Note: In our ongoing efforts to better understand the Novel Coronavirus, Valley of the Moon magazine staff sat down with a virus representative during a visit to an undisclosed Bay Area research laboratory with an electron scanning microscope and a 600-watt stereo amplifier. The conversation was complicated by technical challenges and interspecies language obstacles, but what follows is a faithful representation of what was said.)

Valley of the Moon: So, tell us about yourself. What’s your name?

Vinnie d’Virus: Thanks for asking. I can’t repeat some of the names I’ve been called lately. And no, I don’t go by ‘Corona,’ that’s a family name. Or a beer. Nobody calls you Homosapien, right?

You can just call me Vinnie.

VOM: So tell us about yourself. Vinnie.

Vinnie: Well, I’m like, you know, a virus. Feared and hated. Nobody understands me.

VOM: You’re infecting millions. You’re killing hundreds of thousands. Why shouldn’t people fear and hate you?

Vinnie: Seriously? You have the science. You have the money. You could have stopped me months ago. Years ago. For decades your scientists told you we were coming. They wrote books about it. They gave TV interviews. But it looks like you didn’t listen. You whistled past the graveyard. And you blame me? Serious denial, dude.

VOM: So what, exactly, is a virus?

Vinnie: You don’t know what a virus is? Really? And what year is this? 2020?

VOM: You’re a bit of a smart-ass, aren’t you? Not all our readers are clear about what a virus is. Why don’t you tell them?

Vinnie: O.K. So, a virus is a teeny, tiny little microorganism.

VOM: How tiny is teeny, tiny?

Vinnie: We’re talking, like, 30 nanometers. That would be your polio virus. Us corona viruses, we’re way bigger, like 120 nanometers, which is like, bigger than a micron. So in terms of, what – a grain of salt? – we’re like 20,000 times, 30,000 times smaller. Like I said, teeny tiny.

VOM: Where do you come from?

Vinnie: Me? Jeez. We’re talking multiple generations in a matter of days, so I’ve got a big-assed family, it’s like, huge. I’m pretty sure one of my great uncles was on a cruise ship, and I think I had a cousin down in Santa Clara County in a, like, retirement home. Or maybe I’m thinking of Aunt Mildred, who came ashore in Kirkland, Washington. It all flows together, you know?

But see, here’s the thing. You’re a virus, you got to have a host. We can’t make it out in the world. We need some host cell to express ourselves in. So us corona viruses, we like lung tissue. That’s our comfort zone, you know? So must of us are born in a lung. So you could say, I’m from Lung. Just don’t ask whose. Couldn’t tell you.

VOM: So, basically, you’re a parasite.

Vinnie: Well, duh! Of course we’re parasites. You think I don’t know basic science, the amount of time I spend in laboratories and hospitals? Jeez! And what’s wrong with being a parasite?

VOM: Are you serious? For starters, you invade places where you’re not invited or wanted. You basically try to suck the life out of people, poison them and then move on.

Vinnie: Right. And you think that’s unfair? Dude! You’re talking human history. Am I right? It’s my understanding you invaded this very country, killed just about everything that got in your way – grizzly bears, buffalo, beavers, people – and then looked around for more places to invade. Oceans, forests, Mars. Have you forgotten what you did to Native Americans? African Americans? Damn and Double Damn!! That’s parasite behavior. Right? So let’s not be throwing stones in glass houses.

VOM: But what good do you do, really? We may screw up a lot, but we also do a lot of good.

Vinnie: Glad you brought that up. Let’s talk about doing good. You keep doing good on this planet, pretty soon there’s going to be eight, nine, ten billion of you doing good, using up the oceans the soil, the fresh water, even the air. At some point you’re going to run out of pretty much all of that stuff.

If there wasn’t so many of you, all traveling all over the planet all the time, we would never have met.

And I know this is a low blow (and politically incorrect), but what the hey – let me put it this way. If there were less of you, there would be less of us. So maybe we’re doing you a favor.

VOM: OK, we’ve made some mistakes. But we’ve already solved a lot of problems – look at polio, we killed it – and with our great science, sorry, but we’ll solve the coronavirus problem too.

Vinnie: Sure you will. You’ll figure out a corona vaccine sooner or later (and by the way, polio ain’t dead, smart ass) but right now a lot of you don’t seem to want to take me very seriously, so we’ll see where that leads. And by the way, you already know what you have to do to stop climate change, and how’s that going?

VOM: Did you really start out in bats? I have to ask.

Vinnie: Did you start out as monkeys? Lizards? Amoebas? Give me a break. It’s true, we started out in animals. Including bats. It’s also true that some humans – especially in South Asia and Africa – like to eat bats. Or need to eat bats, because that’s all the food they got. I understand you people eat snails, bull testicles, sea urchins. So shut your face.

VOM: Wow, looks like we touched a nerve.

Vinnie: Actually, it looks like you’ve got your fat knee on a nerve, the third rail of biology to be precise. Mess too much with Mother Nature and all hell breaks loose. What you don’t seem to realize is that you have let the global immune system get seriously compromised. And then when you get sick and die, you blame a silly little virus, too small to even see.

For your sake, you might want to figure that out sooner than later, because I’m not the last pandemic you’re going to be dealing with. I’m only the symptom of your real problem. Oh, here’s a little viral advice: Keep wearing your damn facemasks and practicing social distancing. I shouldn’t be telling you, but it really works.

VOM: Nice talking to you.

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