The Chair’s Guide to Quarantine

 

My husband was at the market today and unwittingly made a woman smile.

She was unsuccessfully trying to juggle SIX DOUBLE ROLLS OF PAPER TOWELS in her hands as she hurried towards the checker and, seeing the futility of her efforts, met his eyes, nodded and laughed.

Perhaps your story involves insane amounts of hand sanitizer, tissues, toilet paper, or aspirin – either falling out of people’s arms (or your own) or not on the shelves at all.

Funny because it’s true (and there’s nothing wrong with that)

But THIS is a typical part of the day in the life of America today.

The calm before the storm, the panic before it could inevitably get really bad.

In order to stop myself from indulging in such behavior, I automatically think about what my mother used to say when Too Sensitive Me was getting overly upset by something going on in my world.

Just keep it up and I’ll really give you something to cry about!

Or, if my Mom’s brand of tough love isn’t working for you (Note: It certainly doesn’t for me), how about this admonition from the immortal Cher:

Perfection

Screenwriter John Patrick Shanley wrote those words for her to deliver in the classic 1987 film Moonstruck but they are no less timely 30 years plus later.

Still, this does not mean they are not overly HARSH.

If we want to weather the storm (or tornado or typhoon) of COVID-19 we need to practice….     um…..       Social    ……………………………………………     distancing.

What this means is not getting too close to others, keeping our hands clean, resisting the urge to touch our faces or mouths and, most importantly, and when possible –

STAYING HOME

Just remember to wash those sheets!

Yes, this is an economic hardship, especially for those who will no longer get paid for their jobs or others who are either unable to work virtually or have children now home from school.

Still, it’s just been announced every worker affected by self-quarantine (nee staying home) is at least eligible for unemployment.

Not to mention, remember all that guilt you might have felt for not spending enough time with your kids?  Well…..

If all else fails, empty boxes will do

Okay, who am I kidding?  I don’t have kids and am fortunate enough to be able to do my job from my bed, I mean, um, home… office.

Nevertheless, as one out of the many fortunate millions who managed to live through the raging AIDS epidemic of the eighties (and beyond ) who is still around to tell the tale, I do know something about viral panic.

There was a time not so many decades ago that I remember washing and disinfecting my hands so religiously and profusely that I actually scrubbed the surface layer of skin off the top of one of my palms.

Not feeling nostalgic for this

It was then, and only then, I began to understand the futility of hysteria and the hilarity of my own neurosis.   No matter how appropriate I believed I was being that is how much my reactions weren’t helping.  Certainly, they weren’t making me any cleaner.

So until they get more information and come up with a reliable, available test/treatment/cure for this virus en masse, here are some handy survival tips:

1- TAKE POSITIVE ACTIONS OF YOUR CHOICE – Demonstrate on the streets (alone, or with a few folks 6ft apart please), commiserate with friends and loved ones (more on this below), rant at the TV and politicians (Note: Well, THE politician, wink wink) , research and come up with position papers that will solve the entire thing but Do NOT FEEL GUILTY about NOT doing EVERY ONE OF THESE THINGS EACH DAY.

I support Netflix, I do not support pizza in bed (I mean, there is a line)

Seriously, no one is Mother Theresa, not even Mother Theresa.  She might have done great unselfish things but even she is a construct, a gold standard of perfectionism and self-sacrifice that is non-human and can’t possibly provide you a true unvarnished 100% human X-ray of a real woman.  Or man.

Therefore, do what you can but don’t beat yourself up for not doing enough.  You’re not letting yourself off the hook for anything, you’re simply being yourself.  And you get to wake up and try again the next day, and the next, and the day after that.   Because you’re one of the lucky.

2- COMFORT FOOD TV – This does not mean binge watching The Wire or finding a streaming service offering all 14 episodes of Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz.

Instead it means marathons of The Simpsons, The Bachelor (or Bachelorette), Law and Order SVU/CSI/NCIS/Blue Bloods or WWE (Note: That’s Worldwide Wrestling for my fellow gays).

Gotta love that Olivia Benson brand of encouragement #benson2020

A few days ago someone told me that a really smart person they knew had taken to watching countless back-to-back Big Bang Theory episodes they’d already seen.

But I have that beat.  This weekend I tuned in Logo and in one sitting tore through twelve straight episodes of The Nanny, a show I seldom if ever saw in first run.

THOSE. OUTFITS.

 

Maybe it was Fran Drescher’s voice, or the fact that Renee Taylor, the comic actress who played her mother, reminded me of my mother, or just maybe it’s the fact that, like me, the title character is from Flushing, Queens AND Jewish and likes to wear loud clothes and is a scheming nag when she doesn’t get her way.  But after all those decades, in this particular time of this decade, boy is she hilarious.

3- START A SILLY CREATIVE PROJECT DOOMED TO FAILURE –Maybe it’s the book, screenplay, poem , song or short story you always wanted to write.

Perhaps it’s rearranging the furniture in your living room.

Or even hanging the framed picture that’s been sitting in your closet for a year because you are sure you’ll f-k up your wall if you try to do it yourself.

When I was in my twenties I thought it was a great idea to use high gloss black paint on every wall in my bathroom and to this day I treasure the reaction of my landlady when she saw it.

The point is, why NOT?  God knows you have the time and it will give you something to talk about instead of the virus.

4- “PHONE” A FRIEND – This might sound silly or obvious but there is a lot to unpack here.   Living in a world where EVERYONE is being told to stay inside as much as possible means that for one of the first times in your life you are truly NOT alone.  So use it as an excuse to reach out to…..ANYONE because, well, you actually have a reason.

it’s time to Facetime!

This means someone from your past, present or perhaps…future?  You don’t need to pretend anymore.  We’re all a bit crazed.  Some aberrant behavior is to be expected.   So take advantage of the fact that there’s a wider berth of crazy for all of us.

The office acquaintance, the best friend who is no longer best, the former or future lover of your dreams.  Even the individual you at one point wanted to tell off but now actually miss.  Does it REALLY matter???

And know that in 2020 coronavirus parlance, “phone” clearly means, Skype, text, gchat, zoom or any virtual reality of your choice.

5- BE.  OF. SERVICE. –  Nothing takes you out of your own insanity or isolation more than helping someone else with his or her own stuff.  This means ANYONE and ANYWHERE.  Oh, and there is little noble about this.  Most likely whomever you are helping has it FAR WORSE than you do and you will get to feel mighty good about YOUR life afterwards.

This + thinking about Tom Hanks (and Rita!)

This is how many of us got through the eighties.

And how many of us will get through today.

Justin Hurwitz – “Quarantine” (from First Man)

Hysteria

OMG, THE CORONA VIRUS!

OMG, THERE ISN’T GONNA BE TOILET PAPER!

OMG, DO YOU KNOW THAT AMAZON IS OUT OF PURELL?

OMG, JOE BIDEN IS SENILE!  AND WE’RE GONNA LOSE!

OMG, BERNIE SANDERS IS A LUNATIC!  HOW CAN WE WIN? 

OMG, TRUMP IS SENILE AND A LUNATIC!  SOMEBODY STOP HIM BEFORE HE WINS!!

…And how was your week?

AGHHHHH

It’s reassuring that in stressful times like these citizens across the country are overrunning Costco to buy toilet paper, hand sanitizer and water and not rioting in the streets.  Or is it?

Well, at least no one seems transfixed anymore that the stock market fell over 12% overall in the last month and economists say we’re headed towards a worldwide recession.

No, what’s foremost in people’s minds are dirty butts, starvation while quarantined, and the inevitability of death by a thousand handshakes.

These days we’re all Trudeau #notthankyouplease

Though fun fact:

Do you know what the consumer research company Nielsen lists as the single item with the biggest increase in food and beverage sales for the week ending Feb. 29th?

gotta be booze?

It’s……..

OAT MILK!!!!!!

Oh for the love of…

Yes, seriously.  Sales were up 322%  (Note:  Yes, 3 HUNDRED 22) in a one-week period and 348% in the last month.  Its closest competitor is powdered milk products at 84% and dried beans at 39.6%

Water, in case you were wondering, was waaaay back, pulling up the rear at 11.8%.

What this tells me is that we’ve all gone nuts, especially since several weeks ago I actually tried oat milk for the first time in coffee and literally had to spit the entire mouthful out in the sink.

I’ll stick to my regular latte please

For the non-dairy variety I much prefer soy, thank you very much.   Despite the fact that four months ago someone warned me that if men consume too much soy they will inevitably grow breasts.

This is the least of my problems at the moment and at my age.

I don’t do well with hysteria and have spent a lifetime of therapy fighting against it.  And yet these days it’s all around us.  People are either panicked about not having a 401K or panicked about losing 20-30% of their 401Ks in the last month.

Debbie Downer’s return to SNL this week says it all

It’s true.  I’ve heard people talking about either or both

  1. on line at a Starbucks
  2. at the car wash on a cell phone and
  3. while walking in a mall parking lot

If only I’d known at the time that two of the only stocks to go shooting straight up in that time period was Target and Walmart.

I could’ve saved them and myself a lot of needless aggravation.

And beat the crowds at Target since I wouldn’t give one penny to the ultra right wing, homophobic Trump supporting Walton family that owns Walmart.

Except, wait a minute……

I’m wrong.

It seems that in the 2016 election 60% of the members of the family foundation gave to Democratic causes with many of the younger members actually supporting…. …Hillary Clinton?

WHAT

This seems to get more to the root of the answer of what will kill us.

I’m as guilty as the next person in perpetuating a certain kind of hysteria that will finally get us all in the end   And that would be the knee jerk distrust of the next guy or gal who disagrees with us, offends us or just plain disgusts us.

I don’t know about you but I can’t tolerate one more ……… that ……………….s or ………….s for …………………… or for a…………… No one gets a free pass anymore from me and EVERYONE has to pay the piper.

This kind of thinking will destroy us.

Certainly, I loathe people who disagree with me on big things (Note: Or anything!)  as much as you do but, well, where is it leaving me, or us, in the long run?

Be that as it may…

Let’s take the election.  If you’re a Dem and you really want Trump out of the White House don’t assume your fellow Dem who doesn’t support your candidate is misguided, stupid or too liberal or conservative to know any better.

I mean, you can think it but certainly don’t post it or say it out loud.  It won’t win you any friends and it certainly won’t influence any people.

In fact, it will have the exact OPPOSITE result that you are looking for.

Though it does seem like it’s time to admit, I’m really OVER AMY. #sorrynotsorry

It will only cause your perceived “enemy” to dig in further and foster needless hysteria.  And it will cost you a lot more than an empty-handed toilet paper run at Costco.  It will cost you… well, let’s not even think about that, shall we?

But if you’re a Dem speaking to a roomful of Trump supporters…..you can tell them to take their ____________ hats and ________________ it where the….

Well, I’m working on that.  Though not at Walmart.  Never at Walmart.

At least, yet.

Def Leppard – “Hysteria”