A World Less Certain | Time Warp

What day is it? It doesn’t matter all that much (when your brain is out to lunch)

Everything is crazy now.
Opening up. Shutting down.
Back to work. Shelter in place.
Walking around. Covering our face.

The pandemic lifestyle is like being trapped in a revolving door. Every day feels like the day before.

In the movie Groundhog Day, the main character played by Bill Murray wakes up every morning to relive the same day. The same bed at the same hotel in the same small town. Over time, he learns new languages, performs good deeds, and tries to get his co-worker to fall in love with him. But his selfishness always gets in the way. He comes close but manages to screw things up every time. Spoiler alert: happy ending!

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During the pandemic, the world we wake up to is stranger than fiction, and sometimes scarier than our worst nightmare. The daily passage of time reminds me of the musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and we are living the “The Time Warp” song.

It’s astounding
Time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely

Not for very much longer
I’ve got to keep control

(chorus) Let’s do the Time Warp again!

Occasionally I will enter a room and wonder how I got there. I quickly retrace my steps, hoping to remember why I opened the refrigerator door.

Why am I staring out of the window right now? I haven’t a clue. The blinds are all the way down! Could this be a sign the coronavirus is supporting our planet like “turtles all the way down” to help keep the human population in check?

Recently, I lifted the toilet lid without having an urge. I checked my Instagram account instead, and my iPhone slipped out of my hand and into the bowl. The display screen was on the fritz – short-circuiting in my fist. I put it into a bag of rice, and two days later, it came back to life. Undrowning is rare these days, especially while sinking into the murky COVID-19 haze.

That reminds me, I need to drink more water.

In another dimension
With voyeuristic intention
Well secluded, I see all

With a bit of a mind flip
You’re into the time slip
And nothing can ever be the same

(chorus) Let’s do the Time Warp again!

While walking the dog, my mind began to float. And I came up behind someone talking on the phone. I suddenly noticed – with laser-sharp focus – the lint on their bulbous behind. My mind began to wander as my thoughts began to ponder: will things ever go back to being sane? It’s interesting to me how the pandemic challenges us to reconsider what is most important in our lives. Lint removal, for instance, a must before leaving home.

Cabin fever. Island fever. Hopefully, not COVID-19 fever. The timeline of a lifetime feels truncated and elongated both at the same time. The days zig as the hours’ zag. We learn to adapt to the “new normal” and nothing feels like it will ever be the same.

Now, is the best time to do the Time Warp dance!

It’s just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
With your hands on your hips

You bring your knees in tight
But it’s the pelvic thrust
That really drives you insane

(all together) Let’s do the Time Warp again!


Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.