What does CORONA have to do with toilet paper? – An attempt at an anal-ysis (part 1)

At first I was just amused, the first phase of the CORONA pandemic was somehow strange. Searching for relevant information about this dangerous pandemic, or, depending on my perspective, some new sort flu, I stumbled over and over again over the involuntarily funny contributions to toilet paper hoarding. Reports of brawls in supermarkets, toilet paper purloiners in hospitals and family tragedies with (but mostly without) toilet paper were the order of the day. Americans, Australians and many other nations shared a new fondness for beautifying their homes with rolls of toilet paper. OK, the French also hoarded large quantities of red wine and the Dutch experienced an additional run on their coffee shops – to quickly stock up on marijuana before they closed.

But actually, the subject of stockpiling did not really fascinate me at that time. I had to deal with the lock-down, short-time work and compulsory masks, so reports about toilet paper hoarders barely provoked a fleeting grin. Because we were bombarded with ever new regulations, rules of conduct and then topped by utterly crazy conspiracy theories about Corona. I offer a small selection as a reminder:

– Bill Gates “invented” the CORONA virus (or created it in the laboratory) and wants to have microchips implanted by means of compulsory vaccinations so he can assume world domination. (The smartphone and Facebook, however, do not want to turn block supporters of this theory).

– The new generation mobile phone network and their 5G transmission masts are responsible for the spread of the CORONA virus. As a precautionary measure, several masts were set alight in Great Britain.

– CORONA is supposed to create a new world order! But the QAnon movement is also convinced that numerous Hollywood actors, politicians and the children’s charity UNICEF are involved in an international child trafficking ring which abducts children, forces them into prostitution and exploits them sexually.

So many crude fantasies and so many smart alecks in such a short time, I was impressed. And yet I still hadn’t understood how a hoarder gets from Corona to toilet paper, then runs off and empties whole supermarkets!

As a kind of substitute, I had the first picture of a modern CORONA smart-ass in my head. The term is usually used in the sense of know-it-all (with an emphasis on “smart” meaning “clever”, as the first part of the word). My immediate reaction, however, focused more on the end of the word. In German hoarding is referred to as “hamstering” (a bit like “squirreling”), so the picture of a hamster with toilet paper made me grin from ear to ear for the first time.

Covid-19 is hardly a laughing matter, but still more irritating stories about other CORONA-smart-guys were disseminated. Several statements from the US federal “hamster” are among them. At a press conference at the White House, the US president encouraged researchers to examine ways of directly injecting disinfectant into people, among other things. He also pondered options for introducing strong light “into the body” to treat CORONA infections. In Turkey, on the other hand, only eau de cologne (Turkish: Kolonya) was in short supply, following a recommendation by the Turkish Minister of Health. He had recommended “Kolonya” as an alternative to hand disinfectant.

But those who are surprised by this metamorphosis of the term “smart-ass” do not (yet) recognise the connections. I started collecting stories and began my anal-ysis and interpretation of the different forms of a smart-ass. However, on continued perusal of my article, I leave it to the such-inclined reader to find his or her own interpretation. Beauty is created in the eye of the beholder – a real smart-ass apparently too.

(Part 2 of this article will be published next Friday, 16 October.)

Original text: UTO
English translation: BCO


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