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Even in the middle of a pandemic, it can sometimes be about the little things. Here are some little things that I’ve noticed as we’ve all been coping with this odd new world.
I hold my breath when I pass people. When I was a kid I knew about a lot of superstitions and, being as gullible as possible, I believed in them all. I never stepped on a crack. (Break your mother’s back.) Nor did I speak of something I didn’t want to happen without knocking wood. (This applied to failing tests as well as to sustaining bodily injuries. It didn’t always work. Yet I still knocked.)
Now, beneath my lovely floral mask, I will smile as I pass you. (Even though you won’t see it.) I’ll also hold my breath. A new, but potent, practice borne of superstition. (Hold your breath or COVID death?)
The supermarket ain’t what it used to be. There’s still no bog roll. Is buying toilet paper going to become like scoring a drug deal? Will I have to wander back alleys in my mask, holding my breath and listening for a low whisper, “Charmin. Wanna party? Angel Soft. Yeah. Cottonelle, Cottenelle, Cottoneeeeeelle?” Will I have to go into stores, sidling up to the cashiers (as far as a six-foot social distancing radius will let me) saying, “Hey yo, got t.p. for me? C’mon, just a little ply? I need some ply, man.”
There are shortages of things you’d never expect. Is everyone cooking Mexican vegetarian entrées or what? If they are, why? That’s my jam. Now I can’t do it. I can’t find tortillas, canned beans, or tofu anywhere. I’m one of those annoying people who actually likes tofu. I love a good burger and some fried chicken just as much as the next carnivore, don’t get me wrong. I also really like a tortilla piled high with tofu, vegetables, and beans. I’m trying to be healthy, but what can I do? I’ll just throw up my hands and grab another package of Klondike Bars. Oh, and some peanut M&Ms, too. I’m self-soothing with sugar. Forgive me.
When I sleep, which is rare, I have dreams about the virus. It’s on my mind all day, why wouldn’t it be on my mind all night, too? The dreams are like the stress dreams everyone has about school but with a twist. Instead of suddenly realizing I’m in class naked, I realize I’m out in a crowd fully clothed...but without a mask on. Instead of losing my locker combination, I’m losing my shoes because they made me take them off at the research facility where I’m being tested for the virus. Instead of the class bully chasing me down, it’s a crowd of people who have no perception of personal space much less how much is six feet of distancing.
The day consists of two threes. Three in the afternoon is a downturn time. I go into a workplace slump under normal circumstances at around 3 p.m. Working at home exacerbates this feeling. I’m not sure why. All I know is that around 3, the sun is hitting my desk at a blaring angle and my bottom is totally rejecting my chair. All I want to do is to shuffle into the bedroom and sleep. However, when 3 rolls around in the dead of night, guess who is awake? My 3 p.m. slump is replaced by 3 a.m. sleeplessness. This is usually preceded by one of my COVID-dreams. I wake up with a jolt. Where am I? Where is my mask? Where did all those people go? I don’t even need to look at the clock, but I do anyway. Ah yes, the Witching Hour. Lovely. I go back to sleep eventually, but sometimes not until it’s light out.
These are the little things that have been on my mind lately. As my mom puts it during one of our daily check-in calls, “Well, at least we’re here to complain about it.” Yes, we’re both here to observe, note, and sometimes even bellyache a bit about the little things. And that’s not so little, is it?
Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at email@example.com. Read more of her columns at www.zip06.com/shorelineliving.
Juliana Gribbins is the Columnist for Zip06. Email Juliana at .