Essays, opinions and rants

Turning into Those People

Turning into Those People

Day 1

We made chocolate chip cookies (by we I mean the 11yo led the charge but reeled me in at weird and ineffective moments, as in, “Mom, look, does it look like I put in the right amount of sugar?”).

We watched neighbors through the window as they passed by walking their dogs – we didn’t have the energy for leaving the house and I envied them. Wondered whether it was the actual virus making us tired, or just ennui from gorging on news. Three quarters of us do have dry coughs and runny noses.

I did some editing work. Unpaid. 

We planned to play board games (but never got to them).

We sent the strapping teen out to walk the dog in our stead.

I thought about dinner, wondered if we’d ever get to a point of rationing that rendered tonight’s dinner (pork chile verde tacos) extravagant.

The red onion I cut into was already sort of post-prime spongy, which was mildly infuriating.

How did they keep onions from rotting for entire seasons like in the days of Little House on the Prairie? Some sort of root vegetable cellars. I gathered our onions and garlic into a tote bag and stuck them in the garage where it’s cooler. But not that cool since our garage is heated.

I imagined reaching a time when fresh onion would be a delicacy. Which reminded me of Adrian Brody and the can of pickles in The Pianist. Mentally put that on the re-watch list. Mentally congratulated Georgina Chapman, Harvey Weinstein’s ex-wife, for dating Adrian Brody as of press time.

I texted with neighbors, friends on the opposite coast and elder family members – nothing in particular, just sort of, How’s it going there? Their answers were all the same. Fine.

We read and read and read and I thought about more about food (my favorite of all subject in all of earthly existence). We aren’t stockpilers, but I did lay in some extra dry stuff last week – canned soup, beans, grains, bouillon. You always need bullion; what if there’s no fresh garlic?

My current mental grocery list reflects no crisis – a hunk of parmesan, sun dried tomatoes. Lemon. Almond milk. I wondered if groceries dried up, how long we’d eat well. A month probably. And then we could barter with neighbors whose bunkers are even more robust. We’d surely adjust, like people do, to everything.

I toasted tortillas for dinner, three different varieties since of course the kids reject corn and Pete like bigger tortillas than I do, and pictured rationing. We might have to eat whatever tortillas we had. No more choices.

I grew irritated by the lack of local news updates and then considered the girl in the wall in JoJo Rabbit. She got no news other than whatshisname’s pre-pubescent crushy propaganda. She got nothing but fake news.

Every time I went to the bathroom I was newly cognizant of how many squares I employed. Even as I laughed at those who hoarded supplies and hated on the guy in WA with 27,000 hand sanitizers.

I agreed with a friend’s FB post musing that a public health scare would be good four our country. Started wondering if medications would ever run low. How long the liquor would hold out. Imagined how tired I’d be without my restless leg pills, without which I can no longer sleep.

We Americans might find ourselves overnight becoming the people who wait in line for staples. How we would chafe and gripe and express our shock that this could happen to us of all people! Lines are for other people!

It would serve us right. Not saying I’d enjoy it, but there would be some poetic justice.

We talked about the future, how we might do some things differently, and felt like we were floating suspended in time.

We wondered if our dry coughs and runny noses had anything to do with anything. 

We pretended like we weren’t wondering that so as not to alarm the kids.

Even though we felt pretty sure that we could very well have the virus now and we were so strong heathy and robust that this is how it was manifesting in us.

Still better not to say that to them.

We started getting on each other’s nerves – already! – and after one testy exchange related to talking over each other I waved my hand dramatically and said “This is the first day!” We should marshal whatever we have inside us and do better at not devolving.

Things got back on track. 

We had cocktails while we put dinner together. Bourbon, beer.

We got to reminiscing about 80s movies and determined to watch Fletch with the 15yo, who’d never seen it. 

Chevy Chase’s pronounced chin dimple and sleepy stony delivery brought back so much from that era.

And how funny that in LA in the 80s, homeless drug addicts could safely sleep on the beach – according to the movie’s depiction. Probably correct.

We crashed later than usual and figured tomorrow would unfold in roughly the same fashion, familiar and otherworldly.

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