RICK COHEN By Rick Cohen – Avila Beach Community Foundation

Greetings, fellow Avilones.  Summer is now in our rearview mirror, and October marks the beginning of 2020’s final quarter. What a strange year it has been thus far – one we would find it difficult to compare to any others in the recent or distant past. Since it seems like we have been hit by the “perfect storm,” I looked up the term’s official definition, which reads in part: “A perfect storm is an event in which a rare combination of circumstances drastically aggravates the event.” Though commonly used for meteorological phenomena, “perfect storm” seems quite applicable to the state of our country as it is today. 

Let us review this rare combination of circumstances. A pandemic that has brought the world to its knees. An economy being pummeled. Millions of people out of work. Most schools functioning in a virtual setting. Social injustices and unrest occurring at alarming levels. Fires devastating the west coast. More southeast hurricanes. The rock-steady and beloved U.S. Postal Service under attack. 

A highly contentious presidential election year coupled with a deeply divided populace. OMG – what more can happen!!!

In light of all the madness, I have decided to inject some light humor into these dark times by seeking some sage advice as in the old days of “Dear Abby,” by introducing a column I will call “Dear Avilone.” I apologize in advance if my attempt at levity offends anyone or comes off as callous. So here it goes:

Dear “Avilone.” I have been self-isolating for so long I’m not sure if it will be safe to go out in public ever again. What shall I do? (From: Home Alone).

Dear “Home Alone.” When the time to venture out again arrives, go to the nearest movie theater, lower your mask, share a bag of popcorn with the stranger sitting closest to you, and see if you get sick.

Dear “Avilone.” When a COVID-19 vaccine receives governmental approval, should I be among the first to get inoculated? (From: Shot in the Dark)

Dear “Shot in the Dark.” Why not? 

As a renowned presidential candidate once asked, “what do you have to lose?”

Dear “Avilone.” I stopped smoking cigarettes when I moved to California three years ago, but my nerves are frayed, so I’m thinking about buying a pack and lighting up. Your thoughts? (From: Match Mate)

Dear “Match Mate.” No need to buy cigarettes to get your smoke-on at this time. Since you live in California amid this fire season, just step outside and take a deep breath.

Dear “Avilone.” I sure miss going on cruises. When will I again be able to enjoy the buffets, bars, and casinos while floating away the days in grand luxury? (From: Packem-in)

Dear “Packem-in.” It could be a long time until you can cruise again, so fill your bathtub, select a variety of foods from your pantry, a bottle of wine from the fridge, grab a deck of playing cards, and go at it.

I hope you found the advice column useful (NOT), or at least a bit funny (FOR SURE). 

For me, writing it was cathartic, but not likely to appear again – unless by popular demand. I wish I had more important things to write about this month, but the “Foundation” remains in a brief lull as so many of the organizations we support are still on hiatus. We are usually deep into our annual grant-making season, but as I reported last month, the process has been altered and eased this time around in consideration of current circumstances.  

In closing, I want to offer a heartfelt tip of the cap to the folks who, during this busy summer past, volunteered to help keep our beach areas free of litter after high volume tourist visits. You so deftly augmented the efforts of County employees unable to keep up with the demand. 

THANK YOU ONE AND ALL! That’s it for now, fellow Avilones. See you at the beach!