Karen is having the last laugh

We’ve had a lot of laughs poking fun of Karen across the internet these past few months, and Karens, in impeccable Karen fashion, are probably not amused.

They haven’t appreciated your blaming them when you were delayed at the drive-thru because someone was complaining that they didn’t get their honey mustard sauce, and you pinned it on Karen. They haven’t liked the daggers you threw their way because your boss piled extra work on your plate, you knew it was because Karen asked too many questions at the team meeting and now everyone was paying the price.

Karen may be the annoying woman who asks to speak to the manager. She may drive a minivan. She may even be subtly racist.

Yes, Karen likes to go to paint and sip gatherings and balance her checkbook. And yes, she still uses a checkbook.

But now, Karens are having the last laugh.

That’s because there is no one better prepared for a pandemic than Karen.

Karen is ready to show COVID-19 who’s boss. She has a stockpile of surgical masks and a case of wine and she is ready to Pilates chop anyone who gets in her way. Karen has sixteen bottles of Tylenol, organized in reverse chronological order by expiration date and ample canned corn — whole kernel and creamed.

Karen doesn’t care if you make fun of her anymore because she is alive and you may or may not be when we come out on the other side of this thing. Because Karen has been waiting for this moment her whole life. She has her hair in a ponytail and she is taking no prisoners.

Karen has cracked the code on the algorithm for securing an Instacart slot. She knows how to fit seven packages of chicken thighs her college-aged kid’s mini freezer. Karen has a DVR filled to the rim with highly-distracting entertainment, including shows you never in a million years thought you’d watch, but are now shockingly enthralled by, including Hallmark Christmas romcoms and reruns of Real Housewives of Atlanta. She knows which parts to laugh at and when to cry. She also has a Costco supply of tissues which she rations to her family.

You want to hate Karen, but you can’t help but want to be her friend in these end times.

You find yourself thinking about what Karen would be doing at increasingly frequent intervals throughout your day. You think about her when you realize your one bag of mixed salad greens now smell like feet and are rapidly liquefying, and you know that Karen is donning her cartoon cupcakes-clad apron, humming along to the Celine Dion and making a quiche Lorraine. You fantasize about her when you resort to wiping your raw rump with Maxwell House coffee filters and you recognize fully that Karen has no fewer than 48 rolls of two-ply. To add insult to injury, it’s probably Charmin ultra-soft.

For the first time in your life, you find yourself jealous of Karen, ferociously wanting to connect with her as though she were the one kid from high school who made it big in life and you want to reap the downstream benefits of acquaintanceship.

You find yourself texting Karen.

“Hey, how are you?”

“I know we haven’t talked in a long time, but was just thinking about you and hoping you are well.”

“Also, sorry about that time I told you that I didn’t want to be friends with an anal-retentive boob anymore. I was just kidding.”

“How’s the toilet paper situation by you?”

You wait anxiously to see if Karen responds, praying her icy exterior melts enough to consider forgiving, and pray for the possibility of her considering dropping off three rolls of toilet paper and some pinot grigio.

Karen is calculated. You know she won’t share her tightly guarded supplies with you. She won’t even share them with her husband.

Your envy deepens.

As you frantically wash your hands using the remnants of your last dish soap mixed with water — does that even disinfect? — you think about Karen with her backfill of rubber gloves and antibacterial soap. She has enough wipes to last through four pandemics and hand sanitizer for the ages.

You start to wish you were Karen and feel bad about all the times you bashed Karens. Minivans aren’t so bad, you reason, especially when you have a bunch of kids with sporting equipment. Plus, you can fit more groceries in a van, which means fewer trips to the store, which means reducing your chances of dying from this awful plague that’s going around.

High-top white Reeboks are the most supportive sneaker, anyway. Everybody is power-walking these days, and Karen is most likely to keep her feet safe and away from unwanted germ-filled doctor office visits.

You can’t stop replaying all of those moments when threw snark and shade at Karen. How you turned down her offer to join the book club. How you shared a meme about her with your friends. How called her Dodge Caravan a, “pathetic,

Your anxiety is through the roof. Your breathing becomes gaspy. You wonder whether it might be the ‘rona. You talk yourself off the ledge and settle into your new normal — a state of total panic that oscillates between severe and moderate, the latter when you’re watching aforementioned taped, cable programming.

Then it hits you. The final blow.

Karen has Xanax.

Writer and native New Yorker who favors humor over sadness, travel over television, and coffee over sleep. @bubballie www.urbaninbreeding.com

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