Look, I can think of a LOT of downsides to this pandemic. This constant, gnawing sense of uncertainty, a vague creeping panic over what tomorrow might bring, the inability to leave your house or live an ordinary life, maybe forever! But there ARE upsides. For me, anyway. Because thanks to the pandemic, nobody cares that I’m a centaur!
In my PRE-pandemic life, the fact that I was a centaur ALWAYS got me in hot water at work. I work at a pretty big tax publishing firm, and every time we had a meeting in the conference room everyone found it SO inconvenient that they had to make some extra room for my horse-lower-half. Like it’s MY fault that I’m a mythological half-horse creature! So you have to reserve like half of one side of the conference table for my admittedly cumbersome hind-quarters. So what? I’m also the best software engineer this company has, and I think that’s a fair trade-off.
Then there would be the constant complaints. I attract flies? YOU attract flies, asshole! But seriously, I DO attract flies. It’s mainly because I sleep in a livery stable and I’ve always got the teensiest bit of horse manure on my horseshoes. Which, honestly, you would too if you slept in a livery stable.
Oh! Oh, and after the meetings, SOMEBODY was always calling in to HR and saying that I was swatting them with my tail. Happened during our last in-person meeting back in March of 2020. Who complained? Hard to say. No it isn’t. It was Sheila in accounting. How do I know? It was ALWAYS Sheila in accounting. That’s how. I know it was you, Sheila! If you don’t want to risk being swatted in the face with my tail, maybe don’t sit so close to my big ol’ horse-glutes! Look, it’s a tail. It swishes. Kind of has a mind of its own. It’s GOING to hit someone eventually. I would say that maybe subconsciously Sheila WANTS to be smacked in the face with my tail, but that would get me in even MORE trouble with HR.
And you know what? I was really starting to get sick of people trying to pry my horseshoes off of my feet so that they could bring them home and play lawn games with their kids. Again, I get it. If I could successfully breed with a human woman and have children, I’m sure I would love to play horseshoes WITH said children. But you DO realize those horseshoes are…my SHOES, right? Do I take YOUR shoes off and play lawn games with THEM? I could if I wanted to! I have the brute strength of a freakin’ HORSE, after all!
I could also do without the constant staring. If I had a dime for everyone who asked me where exactly the human part ended and the horse part began, or wanting to know exactly how all of my “plumbing” worked when I went to the bathroom, I’d be a rich mythological creature.
And if one more person left an apple on my desk, because “I thought that’s what horses eat,” I was going to SCREAM. Or, y’know, neigh.
But here’s the thing: ever since everyone started quarantining, we’ve had all of our meetings virtually. All anyone can see of me is my head and upper half. In other words, the NON-horse-parts of me. And it’s like they’ve FORGOTTEN that I’m a centaur! It. Is. Wonderful. It’s been a TOTAL do-over of my entire workday! Whenever we’re on a Zoom meeting, I’m treated like just another employee. During those meetings, when people look at me, they don’t look at me like I’m a freakish monstrosity that shouldn’t by all rights exist. They look at me like someone who can code like a motherfucker. I’m a valuable member of the team, and it doesn’t even matter that when the meeting ends and I take a lunch break, I bury my face in a bag of horse feed. They can’t see that part! They can only see what I WANT them to see!
You know what else? Sheila hasn’t said a GODDAMN WORD about my tail since this quarantine started. ‘Cause she can’t see it. Can’t yak about what you can’t see.
So say what you will about the pandemic. It’s an existential nightmare that will haunt human civilization for years to come. But I never have to answer one more question about whether or not I’m also a pegasus, and for me at least, THAT is a silver lining, my friend.
Arie Kaplan is a screenwriter for television, video games, and transmedia, as well as an award-winning author and graphic novelist. His humor writing has appeared in MAD magazine, National Lampoon, Points in Case, and Jest. Arie’s television writing credits include World’s Dumbest (TruTV), Cyberchase (PBS Kids), and Codename: Kids Next Door (Cartoon Network). Please check out his website, www.ariekaplan.com, and follow him on Twitter at @ariekaplan