One day this summer, tired of getting endless emails from my town about school surveys, closings and various learning models, I guzzled a liter of iced coffee and opened my laptop. I pecked out a fake school reopening survey and emailed it off to the editor of the humor website McSweeney’s, who also happens to be a Bostonian.
I had written for the site before, and I figured he’d at least take a passing look and hopefully run it. Then I went about my day, which involved trying to keep my two housebound young children from ingesting chemicals or throttling one another.
Before I knew it, the piece was online and had apparently resonated with thousands of other frazzled parents who felt just as despondent as I did about the prospect of either sending children into germ-infested classrooms or plopping them in front of Zoom with no human contact for eight hours every day.
Last night, I found out that my piece was actually the most-read story on McSweeney’s in 2020, with 127,000 Facebook shares. For a writer, going viral is the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket or finding a crisp $20 in your pocket: unexpected, endlessly gratifying and a total adrenaline rush. I got the news while lying under my weighted blanket watching the new Amazon special “Yearly Departed” (stay tuned for a review).
As a writer, you never quite know what will land. Humor is even trickier. But the viral rush is also fleeting: in a few hours, people inevitably move on to more pressing things, like Trump’s latest tweet or their own lives. In the moment, though, it feels fantastic.
Here’s the story, if you want to laugh/cry/pray for this to become completely obsolete in 2021. Happy New Year!