Those of you who know me either in real life or through this blog know that I’ve always been a bit of a germaphobe. I’m a weird sort of germaphobe though, because my deal with germs has more to do with gross people than the actual germs. When I’m camping, I probably eat more inadvertent bacteria than a Roomba in a 7-11, and I don’t care at all. On the other hand, when I go to the store and pick out a shopping cart, I am fairly certain I can actually see the E. Coli standing up on end like an army of little hotdogs as they hop their way onto my hands and up my arms. Or maybe it’s my imagination. Either way, I always keep a pump jug of hand sanitizer in my car. I’ve got to admit, I feel a little vindicated at the moment, since *everybody* now has a 2 bottle a week hand sanitizer habit. Although I've since learned that up until the pandemic hit, I have been doing it wrong and not sanitizing my hands until after I'm back in the car, which means my inside door handle is probably covered in virulent cruft. I also feel like maybe I should keep the bottle out of sight because these days someone might break your window for it. Screw the stereo, grab the Purell!
There’s so much conflicting information out there about what people should be doing that nobody seems to know what the right answer is. If anyone told me three months ago that I’d be sanitizing my mailbox with Clorox wipes before opening it, I would have told them that I wasn’t that far gone yet, but thanks for the concern. Now I’m picturing my mailman as some kind of Typhoid Mary, touching the mailbox of hundreds of random people, some of whom almost certainly have the hygiene practices of a poo-flinging chimpanzee, and transferring that invisible funk (good name for a band) directly to my mailbox. That little handle is probably dirtier than a truck stop hooker, and all these years I never even thought about it.
So things are a bit different now. I’ve watched video upon video talking about how to best protect yourself and your groceries from this virus, and while some of it may go overboard, (I’ve seen a guy recommend dumping all your produce into a pan of soapy water and leaving it there for 5 minutes) some of it might not. I say that because I've also seen videos of various no-brain fuckheads doing things in the supermarket like licking ice cream containers or coughing on produce and posting it on social media like it’s a big joke that doesn’t immediately make me mark them for death, so you can never be too careful.
And this is why, through no fault of my own, I am reduced to doing things like breaking up bags of produce outside, unpacking Amazon boxes on the porch, or holding my banana in two fingers like it’s been used in a porno flick without my knowledge, and wiping it down with 190 proof Everclear before nestling it gently in the fruit basket. Yes, I break up the bunches of bananas too, so get your mind out of the gutter. Also, make sure you text me before stopping over. For reasons.
The empty shelves in the supermarket are sobering. When I first heard about this thing, I figured I’d stock up a bit, so I ordered a bunch of stuff from Amazon, and my wife thought I was a little nuts. Among the things I purchased were toilet paper and paper towels. Why? Well, for one you’ll always use it, eventually, and it doesn’t go bad. Nor does it require refrigeration, unless you're some kind of weirdo. And for the TP in particular, it’s also something you don’t want to run out of. Nobody wants to be reduced to wiping their ass with an old concert t-shirt if it can be at all avoided. Also, you know how guys buy paper products, right? It starts to get out of hand right there in the aisle and just escalates. The thought process is usually something like “Should I buy this pack of 4 rolls? Well, this one of 8 is almost the same price. Shit, this pack of 16 is on sale, and it’s buy one, get one free. I should get four. I don't want to have to make another trip.” This thought process continues until a store employee is suddenly using a forklift to slide a pallet of Charmin into the back of your pickup truck and neither of you knows what the hell just happened. So suffice to say that even though I am no crazy hoarder, I have enough TP for the foreseeable future, but only because I’m a guy, not because of any pandemic.
So far, at least, the supply chain for most of this stuff hasn’t been interrupted, other than by stupidity. People are panic buying, which causes other people to panic buy, which causes the supply chain to get caught with its pants down. Unfortunately, it feeds on itself, so eventually even level-headed people need to go out like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Search for Charmin. It’s like when you are at a concert and everyone in front of you stands up, and you’re like, “Goddammit, now I have to stand up too. I hate all of you assholes.” Same principle, except instead of everyone pumping their fists in the air and screaming at the stage, they’re pumping their fists in the air and screaming at the empty aisle in the supermarket. It’s gotten so bad around here I’m thinking of installing a bum gun. I’m not going hardcore Thailand though. Those are cold-water-only jobs. if I put one in, it’s going to have an electric heater. Our well water is about 50 degrees year round and I’m puckering up a little just thinking about taking a high pressure jet of ice water directly to the old bung hole.
The other thing that’s weird for me is I work from home almost 100% of the time, and as it is, I rarely go anywhere I don’t absolutely have to, so not a lot has changed for me on a daily basis. I fear for the people who can’t work from home, and those whose jobs are critical to fighting this thing. Our health workers, grocery store cashiers and delivery/shipping workers are legit heroes right now. Me, I forget what it’s like needing to go out until I run out of booze, so all I can do is cheer from the sidelines and help any way I can. I’m down to a full bottle of lemoncello, a crusty-topped 1/4 bottle of Triple-sec and a half bottle of Patron. I’m not sure what sort of hellish cocktail I could make mixing those ingredients together, and I don’t want to find out. As a result, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to drinking the rest of the Patron directly out of the bottle while sitting in front of the TV in my underwear. Like I said, not a lot has changed for me.
Another thing I thought about the other day as one of my fillings gave me a little twinge — I don’t think my dentist is taking any patients at the moment, and I don’t blame him. People who make their living working on other people’s faces (dentists, eye doctors, tattoo artists in Chicago) are wisely canceling appointments to reduce their chances of infection. I’m a little concerned that if this filling is cracked and things go bad, I’m gonna be forced to grab an ice skate and go all Tom Hanks on this bitch. Yes, that’s a 20 year old reference. Eat it.
So anyway, while I was opening my mail with gloves on and hoping whoever closed the envelope hadn’t actually licked it, I figured I would write something to help me de-stress about all this, and hopefully give you a laugh or two along the way. I don’t in any way mean to sound insensitive or give the impression that I am not taking this seriously, because this is deadly serious, and I realize people all over are fighting for their lives. Also, it’s not a political thing, it’s a virus thing, and to be frank, both sides of the political spectrum have made me sick to my stomach lately.
I’ll be over here washing individual grapes in my kitchen sink if you need a ridiculous mental image to cheer you up. I’m starting to think Kramer had the right idea.
On that note, stay safe, stay home if you can, and I’ll see you on the other side of this nightmare. Good luck to everyone, and if you happen to work in one of the fields I mentioned, thank you from the bottom of my heart.