Getting Closer? Yes And No

Man, in the early days of coronavirus I wouldn’t have guessed that this microbial demon would find its way into as many of my essays as it has. Its omnipresence and dangers, though, have made it impossible for me to ignore, in my everyday life and as a writer. Alas, truer words than these rarely have been spoken: We need an effective vaccine sooner than ASAP!

It’s anything but new news when I observe that in a mere handful of months the virus has impaired our world in oh so many ways. Hundreds of thousands of people have died at the villain’s hands, and that count will rise and rise. Livelihoods have disappeared. Economies have been derailed. And that which is normal behavior for most of us — having a fair amount of close contact with fellow members of our embattled species — has become, for the most part, a big no-no. We can, of course, be physically near to those who we are confident are non-contagious, assuming that we are confident that we meet that criterion too. But to anyone else? Yo, it’s risky!

It’s natural to wonder about the extent to which close contact will return after our savior, a good vaccine, rides in from whatever lab ends up creating it. That’s assuming the savior is creatable. It better be. Anyway, will the general populace go back to their merry old ways? You know, crowding into elevators, sharing joints, rocking out shoulder-to-shoulder at concerts, spilling their guts to friends seated near them at bars and cafés, etc., etc. (As we know, some people, against expert advice and governmental guidelines, are doing these sorts of things already. Spikes in coronavirus have resulted. Those folks just don’t want to keep their distance from one another!)

I’m betting that a full return never will happen. Maybe we’ll level off at about 75% of where we were, but no more than that. I mean, coronavirus has brought home the fact that microbes don’t always play nice, that unfriendly bacteria and viruses could be anywhere, and that cutting back a little on your potential contact with same might be a wise way to live your life.

For example, as many already have noted, the handshake has an uncertain future. Shit, that’s no big deal. To a decent extent, pre-virus, handshakes already had been replaced by fist bumps, elbow taps and other far-less-germy forms of greeting. I’m cool with that. But some also are predicting that hugs won’t be as common as once they were. Hugs? That is a big deal, and I’m not cool with it. Me, once the pandemic is no more, I’m going to give a nice big hug, if they want me to, to every pal and relative that I get together with. That will be a damn good way to celebrate the nightmare’s demise.

Well, like all good boys and girls, I’ve been trying to keep at least six feet away from nearly all homo sapiens. (The one exception to this regimen is, of course, my wife Sandy.) Doing so is frustrating, for sure. So, when the idea hit me the other day to get real, real close to something — in this case, certain inhabitants of the non-human sphere — I jumped at it.

Thus, a couple of days later, while walking around my neighborhood in the Philadelphia suburbs, I gave flora, stone walls, traffic sign posts and other objects a good looking over from way within spitting distance. Then I snapped their portraits, some of which are plastered on this page. Photographically-speaking, I dug the close-up approach and probably will venture out on a similar mission in the foreseeable future.

But, during the trek and after, I couldn’t stop thinking about human physical closeness, and decided that it would be appropriate to illustrate this story with songs that touch upon aspects of that wide subject. No doubt there are thousands and thousands that fit the bill. I’m going to go with two that popped into my head pretty much right off the bat. These great recordings, which more or less represent opposite sides of the closeness coin, remind me, as if I need any reminding, that I’m anxious for the day when once again I’ll be able to talk with people from a normal distance. And to pass within a whisker or two of strangers on the sidewalk as I nonchalantly walk from here to there. I present to you, then, The Temptations singing I Can’t Get Next To You, and Ol’ Blue Eyes’ heart-melting rendition of The Nearness Of You.

Till next time, gals and guys. Stay safe, as the saying goes. And, by the way, please don’t be shy about adding your comments.


129 thoughts on “Getting Closer? Yes And No

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:18 am

      Hey there. I didn’t hug a tree, but that’s a good idea. I’m going to do that soon!


  1. Sue Vincent June 30, 2020 / 1:11 am

    Hugs? Ye gods, yes… to anyone who wants one as soon as people feel safe enough to invite them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:21 am

      Hello, Sue. You know, maybe hugs will become more popular than ever when the virus no longer is a threat.


      • Sue Vincent June 30, 2020 / 10:50 am

        It would be nice to think so… but the fear that many feel will take a long time to ease, I’m afraid.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Crystal Byers June 30, 2020 / 11:16 am

        I’ve always loved Frank. Of course, I knew The Temptations, but that song seemed brand new, and in context, I laughed out loud. Thanks for that, Neil!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. bone&silver June 30, 2020 / 2:40 am

    I’m glad you got creative with your urge to be close up, that’s great. Keep staying safe 🙏🏼 G

    Liked by 2 people

  3. sniderjerry June 30, 2020 / 3:06 am

    Hey there Neil, Have you ever read any books by Leo Buscaglia or watch him on You tube – he was the king of hugs. I don’t want to sound like a bowl of cornflakes but your personal and very human stories are always a hug to your reader’s spirit. Have a great day. Jerry

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:29 am

      Thanks, Jerry. Appreciated. I know of Leo, but haven’t read anything by him or seen him. I’ll make a note to check him out.


  4. Lynette d'Arty-Cross June 30, 2020 / 3:11 am

    I agree with Leggypeggy – glad you were able to get up close to something as well as Sandy. This virus may change a lot of things.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. thewonderer86 June 30, 2020 / 3:24 am

    I so hear you! Now we’ve started meeting a few people again, it’s so strange not to hug.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:33 am

      Right. Yesterday, for instance, I got together with two friends in a public park. We sat in chairs, about six feet apart from each other.


  6. Annika Perry June 30, 2020 / 5:09 am

    Neil, I don’t think we ever really appreciated human contact until it was taken away from us! We are still very cautious and keeping two metres distance although many seem to have forgotten already! I’m getting quite agile at skipping into verges, fields to avoid others! We are lucky in many ways to be ab able to be close to our loved ones, and recently my mother joined our bubble and after three months of no hugs, we just hugged and cried quietly with joy and relief! Take care, keep safe and keep close to Sandy. Precious moments!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:36 am

      Hi there. I think you’re absolutely right — we didn’t appreciate human contact as much as we might have. We took it for granted. Next year, hopefully, things will be back to normal more or less. Only an effective vaccine can make that happen, though.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. endardoo June 30, 2020 / 5:17 am

    It’s tough out there … but it’s interesting your touch-phobic president is still wreaking havoc!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Robert Parker June 30, 2020 / 6:46 am

    I don’t quote Dubya, or maybe it was his dad, too often, unless I’m mumbling and do it by accident, but this is ” Stay The Course” time, gotta be prudent, etc. and just stay off the hugs and outta the bars & clubs for just a while yet, until the vaccine is ready. Maybe “Stave Off The Coarse” would be a slogan for this administration. I like your album of close-ups though!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:41 am

      You’re right about keeping away from bars and clubs. Going there is inviting trouble in a very big way.


  9. librepaley June 30, 2020 / 7:19 am

    As the earth took a brief, gasping breath, I wondered what we would learn from this period of lockdown, what we could take forward in order to live better. Now, not so much considering the crowds that pressed onto the beaches here in UK in the recent hot weather, but at the rubbish, much of it plastic, that was left strewn behind, I fear we will not learn and apply any lessons.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:45 am

      Hi. Yes, none of the other problems have gone away: Pollution, climate change, scarcity of resources, lack of clean water in much of the world, etc. Will mankind ever address any of these issues forcefully and correctly? I too have my doubts.


  10. Basia Korzeniowska June 30, 2020 / 7:44 am

    I can’t wait to hug and kiss
    my friends: I miss
    them all and yearn
    to once again unlearn
    the social distance thing.
    What will life bring
    in Covid’s wake?
    Will we be able to take
    it on and breathe safe again?
    Take care till then.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:50 am

      Do you get the France 24 network on your TV system? I saw a segment on it in which the two hosts greeted each other by tapping their feet together. Maybe that form of greeting will become popular.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Joyce Hamilton June 30, 2020 / 8:33 am

    Love your photos and songs. Keep posting more. Hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Laurie Graves June 30, 2020 / 9:38 am

    I really enjoyed the textures in your pictures. However, I was particularly interested in your statement: “I’m betting that a full return never will happen. Maybe we’ll level off at about 75% of where we were, but no more than that.”


    Do you think this because even a vaccine won’t be 100% effective?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 10:57 am

      Partly that. But I think that people will be more cautious than they used to be, because of what they went thru during the pandemic. That is, I think people will be somewhat concerned about picking up bad viruses/bacteria.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Helen Devries June 30, 2020 / 9:41 am

    I enjoyed your photographic close encounters…so good to have a positive take in times of the bug!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Jacqui Murray June 30, 2020 / 10:44 am

    At the rate of infections, soon, everyone will have/had it. I wonder if that’s the cure. Sigh.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 11:01 am

      There’s lot about this virus that has yet to be learned/discovered. We can only hope that the situation worldwide doesn’t become worse than it has been.


  15. viewfromoverthehill June 30, 2020 / 12:49 pm

    HUGS???? What are those? Will I remember how? If I survive this I’ll be hugging every stranger I see walking on 4th Avenue for sure. Hugs are what I miss most of all. Stay safe young man.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Rosaliene Bacchus June 30, 2020 / 2:08 pm

    We’re definitely living in a new world! Like you, I can’t imagine life without hugs. Enjoyed your Frank Sinatra song selection.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 5:01 pm

      Many thanks for your input. In his prime, Frank was a brilliant singer. He could get inside a lyric like few if any others.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. talebender June 30, 2020 / 2:12 pm

    Nice choice of song to complement this excellent piece. I’d also suggest Vera Lynn, “We’ll Meet Again”…..stay well!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 4:59 pm

      Hi. I didn’t know much about Vera Lynn until recently, when I saw on TV a piece about her life. She lived to be 103 years of age.


  18. Ann Coleman June 30, 2020 / 2:50 pm

    I’m hoping that a long-term, but good, result of this pandemic will be better cleaning of public places, and more acceptance of mask wearing. (just think if people who thought they were getting even the common cold would actually wear a mask when they went out!). But yeah, I know what you mean about how it has infiltrated out blogs. I hate writing about it over and over, but sometimes it’s hard to think of a post that doesn’t include it!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Paddy Tobin June 30, 2020 / 2:57 pm

    Pfffffffffff I thought you had turned into a gardener for a while before reaching the paragraph which explained the photographs. They were very enjoyable photographs, by the way – you have a good eye!

    Yeah, this blasted virus certainly continues and seems certain to continue for quite a while yet. The numbers of daily confirmed cases has been consistently low here in Ireland for a few weeks but there have been some small spikes in numbers which have been concerning – following on the arrival of travellers from abroad especially. Also noted was that recent cases have listed as many as 20 people with whom they had been in close contact. In late April into May this number would have been as low as 2. People have simply become careless and imagine that because all has been well with them that it will continue to be well. I don’t think it will.

    Here, Mary and I continue our living away from people. The supermarket delivers our groceries and we occupy ourselves in the garden. We have had a very few walks – to quiet places – but we miss our daily walks and I especially miss outings with friends to search for and admire our native orchids and wildflowers.

    Best wishes from Ireland; Stay safe and well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2020 / 4:51 pm

      You and your wife are doing the smart thing. Maybe you and your friends could go for walks, though, as long as everybody stays at least six feet apart and wears masks.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. tanjabrittonwriter June 30, 2020 / 7:16 pm

    I don’t know, Neil. Human memory is fairly short-lived, but I think it will all depend on when and how this thing resolves.
    Stay well and keep up your spirits. 🌸

    Liked by 2 people

  21. alhenry July 1, 2020 / 12:12 am

    LOL, Neil, when you said “…the idea hit me the other day to get real, real close to something — in this case, certain inhabitants of the non-human sphere,” I thought you were gonna HUG those stone walls and traffic posts.

    Perhaps that will come in time.

    As for apropos songs, here’s one for the future (hopefully). The Doors “Touch Me.”
    “Yeah! Come on, come on, come on, come on
    Now touch me, baby
    Can’t you see that I am not afraid?”

    Stay well. Keep amblin’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2020 / 7:45 am

      It would be difficult and uncomfortable to hug the stone walls around here. But traffic posts— that’s a good idea!


  22. Alyson July 1, 2020 / 4:23 am

    Like you I keep returning to the subject of the virus in my blog but tough to avoid really as it’s taken over our lives so completely. I feel so sorry for young people of my daughter’s age – They will be ones most likely to have lost their jobs and places to live, yet as a pick-me-up, they can’t even go on a date!

    Two songs here I didn’t know so thanks for the introduction to them. Also what a great idea for a photography project – Up close and personal with the non-human world. Great pictures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2020 / 7:40 am

      Hi. Your thoughts about the pandemic’s effects and implications are spot-on, I think. What a mess the world is in.


  23. tylerus July 1, 2020 / 10:17 am

    You know, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that hugs – for me – are a thing of the past. I think I’ve been “programmed” over the last many weeks to stay the distance . . . forevermore. Here’s to finding a vaccine, but the realistic (not pessimistic) me wonders that even if this happens, might not another virus [eventually] surface? On a positive note, my friend, good tunes and nice pics (as always).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2020 / 12:44 pm

      Hi. We’re all on a ride into the unknown. If we’re fortunate, things will work out okay.


  24. Mellow Curmudgeon July 1, 2020 / 10:19 am

    Yes, one consolation for having wings clipped by the pandemic is that we are encouraged look closely at everyday beauty that was hidden in plain sight.  (Even the rusty post supporting a road sign!)  My own favorites here are the brown leaves beside green grass and the detail of fungus growing on an old tree trunk.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. carolinehelbig July 1, 2020 / 6:03 pm

    I’m with you on those hugs. Yesterday, I visited my mother at her long term care home for the first time since early March. They finally opened up brief outdoor visits, but with a giant plexiglass shield between us. God it was hard not being able to hug her! Great song selection.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2020 / 7:53 pm

      Hopefully you’ll be allowed to hug your mother soon. Hi, and thanks for adding your thoughts. As always, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. annieasksyou July 1, 2020 / 6:03 pm

    Lovely photos—and Frank Sinatra is always a treat—though he does make one want to hug a lot.

    I think it’s possible we’ll have meds that are helpful before a vaccine—which is still a long way off—and fraught with questions about safety, availability, etc. At this point, the biggest worry is how we’ll manage the calamitous number of cases, which the guy in the White House said just today will magically disappear. But I no longer talk about that guy..,

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Image Earth Travel July 1, 2020 / 6:50 pm

    So important to hug someone everyday and several times if you can!
    Great song choices.
    Many thanks for stopping by my travel and photography blog – much appreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. johnlmalone July 1, 2020 / 6:56 pm

    a thoughtful post, Neil; I too feel frustrated at not being able to hug but hey! as you suggest, we can still hug trees, our animals and lamp-posts should we feel so inclined 🙂 oh, there’s another song, ‘Close To You’, the Carpenters?

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Platypus Man July 2, 2020 / 6:49 am

    If there’s one good thing that could emerge from this virus it’s an end to the myth that you can only be a real man if your handshake is so hard that the other guy winces and his eyes pop. Handshakes often turn into pathetic alpha-male ego trips. Hugging’s much more civilised.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. selizabryangmailcom July 2, 2020 / 1:36 pm

    It’s the little things in life that matter the most anyway, right?
    So thanks for the little beauty shots and musical balms………

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 2, 2020 / 3:04 pm

      Hey there, Stacey. You’re right about the little things. Except for when they are coronavirus microbes. Have a real good weekend, and many thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. selizabryangmailcom July 2, 2020 / 3:26 pm

    Yeah, hahaha. I should have given a caveat!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Jennifer Kelland Perry July 3, 2020 / 2:33 pm

    Scary times, and yet there are plenty of folks out there making things worse by ignoring the advice and spreading the virus. Where is it going to end?

    Liked by 2 people

  33. D. Wallace Peach July 3, 2020 / 2:55 pm

    I’m counting on a vaccine, but don’t expect it any time soon. I miss physical closeness, not only hugs, but sitting in a group and chatting and laughing, volunteering with groups of kids, taking my parents out for lunch. It would be super sad if that didn’t return. Hopefully, we will have learned our lesson with this virus and will tackle the next one before it becomes a worldwide pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Still a Runner July 4, 2020 / 3:38 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful post and the great tunes. We will get through this, hopefully with softer hearts and tougher skins.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 4, 2020 / 5:38 pm

      Hi, and thanks for the visit. This year is a very trying one. Let’s hope that 2021 will be better.


  35. sloppy buddhist July 5, 2020 / 8:48 am

    I love hugs…and yes it took several years after 1918 for humans to reconnect in ways they felt safe…I’m not sure there will be a vaccine…but I don’t know 🤓 but maybe “ye” might have the vision Americans are looking for 😳😉 be safe smiles from the far north…my relatives in Europe also experience different narratives on the virus…smiles and joy your way Hedy 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 5, 2020 / 11:31 am

      Morning, Hedy. Boy, if an effective vaccine isn’t created, we’re up shit’s creek. I’m betting on a vaccine!


      • sloppy buddhist July 5, 2020 / 1:07 pm

        let’s hope for that…I’m a tad doubting but ok…I don’t know…but I do know SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 are closely related viruses…and viruses can mutate very rapidly. ..wash our hands…stay home…be safe ☺️🤓☀️🙏

        Liked by 2 people

  36. Fictionophile July 5, 2020 / 12:44 pm

    Wonderful post Neil. I too am sorely missing hugs. At my age they are even more important than ever. I don’t expect to see a return to full normalcy in my lifetime. Both my children have lost their livelihoods – hopefully not forever… For now, my husband and I are healthy and well, and I wish that for everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 5, 2020 / 2:22 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your children’s situations. This virus came from out of nowhere and wrecked things big-time all over the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. cath July 6, 2020 / 1:22 pm

    Well, you’ve certainly offered us some interesting compensation. Love the songs. I seem to have missed hearing the Temptations, up to now. Love the energy.
    Also, love that tree with the fungus necklaces – nature can be so effortlessly beautiful.
    I’m counting this as a virtual hug – thanks, Neil.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. JoAnn July 6, 2020 / 4:28 pm

    It’s depressing to think about how long this epidemic still might last… returning to normal anytime soon is getting more and more unlikely. 😕

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 6, 2020 / 5:39 pm

      It won’t happen very soon. But many labs around the world are working like crazy to create and test vaccines. There’s probably a good chance that one or more of the vaccines will prove to be effective. If we’re lucky, a breakthrough will happen in the foreseeable future.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Silver Screenings July 7, 2020 / 9:27 pm

    I love these up close & personal photos. Also: Thanks for including Frank Sinatra. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to him.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 8, 2020 / 7:47 am

      Thanks, Ruth. I’ll probably do another close-up themed story one of these days. Maybe in half a year or so. Take care. Enjoy the rest of the week.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. America On Coffee July 8, 2020 / 2:41 pm

    Hi Neil! Read a post that the virus wii return in 20 years time but it will be worse. I can only speculate that a bio germ engineer or someone related could make such a statement.🤔

    Liked by 2 people

  41. cigarman501 July 10, 2020 / 4:36 am

    I live in the Corvid-19 hot spot that is SC that is a hotbed of “the gubmint ain’t gonna tell me what to do” sentiment. I do a lot of head shaking and no hugging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 10, 2020 / 8:45 am

      And when vaccines reach the market, many of those same people probably will refuse to be vaccinated.


  42. Jade July 11, 2020 / 3:15 am

    We do need a vaccine soon! I feel for those who’ve lost their livelihoods over this, and am beginning to miss going out without clouds hanging over us. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

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