At the end of this year, what should be the word of the year?

Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy

“Coronavirus” certainly has the lead around the first turn. “COVID-19” is a possibility, although would that be a word or a word-number combination? Then, there is “social distancing,” which certainly has phrase of the year locked up.

About two months ago, “impeachment” was a shoo-in for word of the year. The president was impeached?

My money for word of the year is on Covidiot. As one newspaper put it: Because stupidity is contagious.

The word was coined by the Urban Dictionary to describe toilet-paper hoarders, brain-dead college students and others who fail to practice proper preventive measures.

Most of us — especially since we are locked in our homes — have taken to the television to see throngs of idiot college kids on Florida beaches. 

What you hear is akin to, “Alcohol kills coronavirus, so I am going to drink the virus away” and “I ain’t lettin’ no virus ruin my spring break.”

Many young people believe they are invincible. Nothing can hurt them, especially one that so many people are making such a big deal over. 

This virus did not create covidiots, though. Oh, covidiots have been around forever — and will continue to be around. Why? Because that is who they are.

In summer of 1995, the covidiot who is writing this column and his covidiot college roommates decided we were going to defeat Hurricane Erin with a bunch of friends, a few illegal substances and enough alcohol for Camp Shelby, hunkered down in a house that a good wind could blow over.

While other people stocked up on necessities, we went for the hurricane mix — “Hurricane Erin, my a...” — and the junk food. My covidiot brother and roommate spent a small fortune at the liquor store.

The weather deteriorated in much the same way we did. Had it hit Hattiesburg, which every weather-guesser from Jackson to New Orleans was predicting, our group of covidiots... well, who knows what might have happened?

The storm took a hard right and skirted the eastern side of Mobile Bay. It never threatened Hattiesburg. But we did feel as if we had been beaten up by a hurricane.

Remember Y2K? Oh, baby, that was going to be the end of the world. When the clock struck midnight from Dec. 31, 1999 to Jan. 1, 2000, the economic systems of the world would simultaneously collapse. There was genuine fear that our world might indeed come to an end.

My covidiot brother — a different covidiot brother than Hurricane Erin — and I spent New Year’s Eve at Big Cypress Reservation in Florida with 100,000 friends watching the jam band Phish.

“If the world is going to end, we might as well be dancing,” we reasoned.

Of course, the world didn’t ended. The apocalypse did not happen. We moved on with our lives.

Now it is COVID-19 and people are scared to death. Working from home, the isolation does not bother me much. I am used to it. The inconvenience of fighting grocery store hoarders is much more concerning to me than actually getting COVID-19. 

If any group has outdone the beach morons, it would be the toilet-paper hoarders — likely a few who are reading this right now. 

About a week ago, just as the hysterics began, the toilet paper inventory in my home was: me, 13 rolls, and my wife, nine rolls. We don’t agree on toilet paper and have separate bathrooms. (For all of you kids looking at getting married, I have found that separate bathrooms will help the marriage be long and happy.)

She likes the big rolls of thin, hard paper. She likes the kind you can spin around your hand as if spinning the big wheel on “The Price is Right.” I like soft paper. I don’t have to say any more.

Twenty combined rolls of toilet paper certainly would last a long, long time.

And then the great national run on toilet paper began. People went nuts, filling their carts with 50, 100 rolls of toilet paper. The shelves were barren — and in many places still are empty. 

A friend who works at the local Walmart offered Saturday night to “put some aside” for close friends the next time a shipment comes in. I almost fainted.

Wednesday morning, I took another inventory of our home’s toilet paper. A week has passed. I have 11 full rolls and a third of a roll on the back of the tank. (Yes, gentlemen, you can put the paper on the back of the tank if you have your own bathroom!)

My wife had just shy of eight rolls of paper.

By that math, I have at least 10 weeks’ — 2 1/2 months’ — worth of paper. But that easily could be extended, because when the supplies get low, the rationing begins. I could make it three months, easily. 

Imagine if I had 200 rolls of toilet paper! I could make it two years into Donald Trump’s second term.

Sean Murphy is managing editor of the Leader-Call. Email him at


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