A few weeks ago, a friend asked how things were going at my house, what with the stay-at-home lockdown we had been enduring. At the time, we had not been in it very long and, as regular readers will recall, I was, and am, a believer in the mental medication of getting outdoors to commune with nature.
So I told him after nearly 50 years as a journalist, I was used to working alone. I love wandering along or in a forest or a stream and making friends with the critters who live there. It makes one feel pretty special when those critters start to trust you.
But I have to admit, this half-baked quarantine is beginning to get me down. Although I would ask the Big Media to stop calling it a “lockdown.” It is not that we cannot leave our homes; the problem is there is no place to go, except the grocery store. We are told to stay at home – unless we need to buy some essential product.
Even that would not be bad, except the shelves, while not bare, are sorely lacking. The last time I went to the supermarket, I discovered the shelves that normally contained frozen veggies were instead stocked only with signs naming the produce that were not available.
But the real bummer was not being able to just look people in the face and trade smiles. I looked for that as I made my way up and down the aisles, hunting the products on my list. Sometimes if I looked really closely just above the masks, I could catch a glimpse of the eyes as they crinkled in return for a “Hey” as we kept our distance passing by the grapefruit juice.
Unfortunately, I saw that too rarely. Most shoppers seemed blanketed by suspicion – that element of wondering whether six feet is far enough to avoid being dosed with Covid by that approaching shopper. So you say “Hey,” and they look quickly away, hiding the suspicion they’re ashamed to admit they have taken from the television news of shoppers hiding behind masks meant to prevent them blasting the deadly virus across the aisle.
I think I know why a haircut or a mani-pedi is so important to some of us. We long for communal touch, for connection with another member of the tribe, for an uncovered face that can speak a paragraph without uttering a sound – especially a sound muffled by impeding fabric.
Some of us still meet for breakfast, together alone in our respective homes, and engage in lively conversation, pretending – successfully, we tell ourselves – that something is not missing along with the table we used to sit around at that same time and day, when we told each other varying degrees of truths marbleized in communally shared air.
We have been slowly leading to this, separating ourselves mostly by pointing out differences in clothing, or architecture, or language – but suddenly we are told the threat is contained within the lungs of our own clanspeople. We are confronted with the fact that it is not sufficient to be New Orleans Strong, or Boston Strong, or (fill in the blank) Strong.”
The virus has been described as being no respecter of political, or even geographical, boundaries. Turns out, it does not pay much attention to religion or skin color, either. Or gender genetics.
No, I do not need a haircut and my nails are just fine, thank you.
But I’m considering visiting a barber.
Thanks for taking me along. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share. Please click the “Share” button to share it on social media, or copy the URL and send it to friends and acquaintances you think might appreciate it.