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  • Harry Jensen

March 14, 2021


Today, I Zoomed into my Bad Uncle Rupert’s married-but-bachelor pad in Qatar and chatted with him about the differing COVID-19 restrictions between our places of residence. While masks are mere suggestions in Iowa, and downright denigrated in Wisconsin, Rupert informs me that everyone in Qatar is required by law to have an application called Ehteraz on their phones. Ehteraz shows a green QR code if you are healthy and permitted to be out and about, a yellow code if you are meant to be in quarantine, and blares red if you are known to be infected. Every hospital, grocery store, sandal boutique, and Qatari bodega in the country requires you to show this app upon entering the premises, and if your QR code is anything but green you will be charged $10,000 dollars, and as much as $55,000 if you do not have the app installed.

“Hold on, I need to update it,” said Rupert as he showed me his code, and I imagined him being sawed to little bits or at least paddled quite seriously for not having the newest version.

Rupert invited me to visit him when all of this plague business clears up, and promised that the bottomless mimosas at the decadently meated Qatari buffets would have me “dancing like an octopus fired from a shotgun.” I could not tell if this was reward or punishment.

Yesterday, I ate a gas station chicken fajita which begat as much despair in my bowels as was emanating from my soul. I was on my way to a bonfire and had little time to rectify the malnutrition that hallmarks any semi-productive day of mine. I worked out /flailed purposively that morning and ate only protein powder, a strawberry flavored scoop of branch chain amino acids, and a heavy heart healthy dusting of kratom. Man cannot survive on bread alone, but what about powder?

The bonfire was held at my friend Lexi’s house, where we played a game called Pick Your Poison in which one picks between two unsavory fates. My friend Drew elected to murder every time it was offered, even before hearing the other option. My trickiest dilemma was deciding between having to announce you need to defecate every time you need to defecate, and taking a two-minute shower in boiling hot water. I had recently learned the physiological benefits of cold showers i.e., becoming legendary, but boiling water seemed uncomfortable, yet I was torn seeing as my IBS would make my speaking life a parade of poopy-infused dates, job interviews, and eulogies. And I hate the word “poop.” Eventually it was decided that being completely melted would result in one having to announce to a nurse every time they had to eliminate waste, with fits and screams, so the decision was made for me.

Though we were sat outside for the evening, I thought the whole time of Lexi’s basement, which had the feeling of a refurbished prison for dwarves. You access it by way of a set of tiny stairs, squeezing through a door frame made for hobbits into a series of three rooms with six-foot-high ceilings. One room is populated by red and white pant suits and ball gowns once worn by her deceased mother, and another, which had the feeling of a child’s dungeon, has an encyclopedia-sized window with a spectacular view of the washing and dryer units. The American Midwest, populated by proud people who go unmasked into convenience stores to buy cases of Code Red Mtn Dew and chicken fajitas for their own DIY quarantine buffets, does not have anything close to the Ehteraz app, but, if they did, I think this is where they would be sent if their code was red.


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