Pi Day was a turning point

Photo by Rick Barbero A pizza decorated for Pi Day created by Pasquale's in Beckley. The pizza features the sign for pi, the mathematical constant. Pi Day has been celebrated annually on March 14, or 3.14, the first three digits of pi, since 1988. 

Happy Pi Day!

No, I didn’t spell that wrong.

Today — March 14, or 3.14 — is the annual celebration of the mathematical constant pi (π).

It’s also the anniversary of the last day in 2020 I can remember entering a public business without a mask obscuring half of my face.

I’m sure I might have made a couple of other maskless appearances over the following week or so, but Pi Day seemed to be a real turning point for me.

Or maybe that happened March 6 when I ate lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.

I was a little nervous about it. Not because of anything about the restaurant. It was clean, the staff was great as always, and the food was delicious.

I was just thinking about Covid.

To be honest, I had been thinking about Covid, on some level, since January.

That’s why, in February, a few weeks before the great toilet paper run of 2020, we went on a leisurely shopping trip to Sam’s, Walmart and Kroger.

My mom always called me a worrier when I was a kid.

(I won’t deny that. Too many people have stories for me to even bother with that nonsense.)

When we bought canned goods, cleaning supplies and a few large things of toilet paper pre-pandemic panic, I said, "Best case, we’re prepared. Worst case, we have toilet paper for a couple of months.”

So, yeah, I was thinking about Covid when I sat down to eat that day.

There weren’t any cases here yet, but were there? What did we know?

I think we all know by now that we knew absolutely nothing.

I know I was concerned, and we shopped early, but I honestly never expected the madness that ensued.

I certainly never expected a toilet paper run.

As I enjoyed my Mexican food — I’m sure I looked like a weirdo, by the way. I was using hand sanitizer and wearing sunglasses because my eyes had just been dilated — I never would have imagined that a year later, I would look back and say, "That’s the last time I ate inside a restaurant."

But who expected any of this?

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, who one year ago warned us things were going to get bad, recently said he never would have dreamed just how bad.

But Fauci, with three Covid vaccines now in the mix, also said he thinks things will begin to turn around in mid- to late summer.

I hope he’s right.

• • •

Although we had everything we needed from our big February shopping trip, just after 8 p.m. on Pi Day, 2020, we decided to hit up Kroger for a few cold and frozen items.

The toilet paper run was over and the store was empty of most shoppers and nearly all groceries.

Honestly, it was the strangest I’ve ever felt in a store.

It was like a disaster movie.

I can’t remember buying anything except cheese and a pumpkin pie.

It was Pi Day, you know?

Before we went home, we carried on the “pie” theme and ordered a carryout pizza from a local restaurant.

We didn’t know what was coming, but we thought it might be a little while before we ate out again.

I don’t think I’ve ever really done Pi Day so thoroughly before, but I’d also never faced a pandemic before.

I ate that pie straight from the tin.

Looking back, maybe it’s fitting that Pi Day was the real turning point of the pandemic for me.

Pi is the mathematical constant, after all, and Covid has certainly become a constant in our lives.

But maybe this year we’ll look at Pi Day as the beginning of a new constant.

We were scared last year. Maybe even a little hopeless at times.

Covid is no less scary now.

But hope is certainly on the horizon. 

Happy Pi Day! 

— Email: mjames@register-herald.com

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