Like everyone else I am having trouble thinking about anything other than the coronavirus pandemic and the shockwaves it has sent, and will continue to send, though the system. As it began to unfold I found myself thinking, talking, and posting about it fairly constantly. In an effort to try to keep it confined to a given time and place, both physically and psychologically, I am keeping a diary of it all.
March 27: There’s a thing going around in which people are putting teddy bears in their windows. The idea is that families at home with small children don’t have much to do except to go out for walks, and by putting bears in the windows it gives little kids something to search for while out and about. I don’t own an American flag to fly on my house and I am not about to get involved in one of those neighborhood singalongs, but I’ll do the bear thing.
Carlo still has all of his old stuffed animals in the back of his closet. I had him get one of his old bears and we put it in the window. I hadn’t seen the one he found since he was a very little kid, but I instantly remembered it. Almost choked up a bit when I saw it, in fact, wondering where time has gone. Since then we’ve heard a few toddlers and preschoolers shout “look! bear!” It’s felt nice to do something that brings someone a tiny bit of joy, be it a kid or a parent who desperately, desperately needs some time outside.
All of that — and so much more of this — makes me thankful that I don’t have small children right now. I have a special set of anxieties about having teenagers as the world seems to crumble. I worry about what is happening to their hope for the future and whether that feeling I had as a teenager that the world was filled with possibilities for me feels impossible to them. But on a day-to-day basis, hoo-boy, I can only imagine how hard it is to have a small child who can’t play with other kids, go to school, go to day care or what have you. I loved my kids when they were little and often miss that part of their lives, but I remember being pretty constantly exhausted back then too. There’s a lot of sitting on the floor. A lot of sore knees. A lot of crafts and games and, while I’d read, color, draw and play with toys with them for hours on end and not get tires, I never had a ton of patience for crafts and games for some reason. There was a lot of TV and video content that drove me absolutely insane, even if I always did my best to play and watch along.
Whatever the case, it has to be really hard for young parents right now and tonight I pour one out for those of you with three year-olds. And I can pour one out quite easily. I don’t have to bathe my kids, help them brush their teeth, and put them to bed. I can just tell ’em to get lost, daddy is having a drink and watching “Peaky Blinders.”
My wife’s office had a video happy hour at 4:30. At 5:30 she jumped on a video call for a drink and a chat with a friend of hers from Texas. We’re tentatively planning on having video cocktails with some new friends of ours on Sunday evening. Social distancing is weird in certain respects, but I almost feel like we’re doing more socializing now than we were before. When you actually have to go out and meet people there are a dozen reasons to bail and, in fact, you tend to look for those reasons at times. When the bar is so low — just sit in front of the computer — it’s way less of an ordeal. I doubt this is the future of personal interaction for most people, but I bet it’s a more popular version of it after this is all over than it was before.
I checked in with my mom again tonight to see if they needed anything. Nothing pressing, but if I happened to be out and I found some flour, some sweet onions, and some Cascade, they’d appreciate it. She also asked if I had any 500 or 1000-piece puzzles laying around, as she’s getting bored.
On the one hand this made me a little sad, as I don’t like to think of my parents sitting in the house getting bored. On the other hand, it’s good evidence that they have, in fact, been staying inside the house. Which is something I still sort of wonder about in the back of my mind.
I know they are taking the pandemic seriously — they are well aware that their lives depend on that — but the two of them have been married for 53 years and have not, for a second, relied on anyone else other than themselves in that time. They eloped when my mom was 18 and have never so much as lived in the same town as extended family since 1967. Until my mom quit Home Depot in advance of the pandemic she had always worked. Their being near me now is mostly a function of them wanting to be near my kids when they were younger but if it wasn’t for that they’d likely be living in an RV on a mountaintop someplace.
No matter what it is they are doing or where they are doing it, they have always been an independent and self-contained two-person unit. My dad wakes up at 4am and goes to 24-hour stores at 5am or hardware stores at 6 when the contractors are coming in before jobs. My mom’s default “I have nothing to do” thing is to get in the car and go shopping. Not for clothes or knickknacks, but for, like, a jar of Worcestershire sauce. Indeed, I think she parcels out her grocery list and gets things one at a time just so she has things to do. I can only imagine that this is driving them nuts to have to ask me to bring them sweet onions or dish soap. So nuts that they need puzzles.
Carlo does puzzles pretty often, so I had him gather whatever ones he had in his room that he had already done so I could give them to his grandmother. He found a 500-piece Keith Haring print, a 500-piece M.C. Escher print, and a 750-piece ye olde map of the world. He said the Escher one might be missing a piece or three. I debated not telling my mom that because part of me thinks that her being driven crazy wondering why she can’t finish the puzzle would be hilarious. Hell, maybe it’d be good for her. Keep the mind agile, and whatnot.
I told her, though. If we all make it through this pandemic I don’t want her to kill me.
A Facebook ad appeared today for sweatpants, geared specifically to people being forced to stay at home:
I tweeted about how, unlike most Facebook ads, it was pretty well-taken. The company responded:
A few other people chimed in:
I went and looked and the damn things are $78. For starters. They have some that are $98. I’m trying to imagine what makes any pair of sweatpants worth $78, even now, in an age in which sweatpants are the new workwear. Any feature I try to imagine that would justify a pair of sweatpants costing $78 would probably be illegal in most states.
That said, I do sort of feel like they should send me a pair on the house given that I apparently sent them some business via my free ad. If you’re reading this, Mack Weldon executives, I wear 34/32 jeans — but wouldn’t mind an extra inch or two for loungewear — and I prefer blues and grays in most things, so like, whatever works on your end.