Monday, May 25, 2020

After The Virus Is Gone

Just as Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn harmonized on the classic 1971 hit “After The Fire Is Gone,” I’ve been singing my own tune. It’s about things forgotten, trivial though some may be. Human interaction, mainly, and everything that entails.
My version is called “After The Virus Is Gone.” Not everything here applies to me, but to someone it matters.
What have I noticed?
I miss going to the store.
I miss eating in restaurants and complaining about the service, food, and cleanliness.
I miss eating in restaurants with children screaming and throwing food off their high chairs and booster seats six feet away from me.
I miss salad bars, self-service coffee, tea, and doughnuts.
I miss casino buffets.
I miss going to work. I miss the drive and getting up an hour early to beat the morning traffic jam. I miss the office, oh, so much, because there are people there — not just little kids. My kids, precious, though they are, are ready to self-isolate, too. Away from me.
I was terrible at old math, and I can’t figure out new math if my life depended on it. I miss the office so much because they have toilet paper there.
After the virus is gone.
I miss the gym. Not really, but I know some people do. I miss waving at the other moms in the bus lanes and at the soccer fields. I miss wondering if takeout is okay to eat for the fourth time this week.
I miss school fundraisers.
My cat wants to miss me, but I’m never gone.
I miss going to Walmart — I do the pickup, but I haven’t used a coupon, bought any day-old bread, or peered at the marked-down organic chicken because the “best by” date was tomorrow.
I miss driving. Anywhere. I miss yelling at people in traffic, watching people on their phones, reading, applying makeup, and picking their noses.
I watch myself do some of those things in the mirror sometimes, but it’s just not the same.
After the virus is gone.
I don’t really miss going to WW because the number hardly moved, but I go and keep trying. (I wonder if Oprah has gained the quarantine 15?)
I wanna go to a convenience store and get scratch-off lottery tickets, a 128-ounce fountain drink, two mini-packs of Little Debbie powdered donuts, a Twizzler, Slim Jim, and a Red Bull just because I’ve never had one.
After the virus is gone.
I miss going to the movies. Weekend getaways canceled, writer conferences postponed, the library is closed. I miss going to church, the synagogue, the mosque, and Saturday Mass. Seven weeks since the last potluck.
It’s spring when everything is fresh, new, and vibrant after the cold and brown of winter. Spring in the south doesn’t last long — a few weeks maybe between a Blackberry winter, severe weather, and the choke-filled breath of new pollen before the humidity and heat close all the windows to begin a six-month cycle of chilled air and more confinement because I can’t take the heat. Especially in the kitchen. I’m so tired of three meals a day for seven people.
It’s a time of festivals, proms, and graduations. I won’t miss any of that, but people I love will. In 30 years, what will they remember? Disruption. Chaos. Apart from the norm — how will we cope? None of us has seen anything like this.
Rites of passage stolen. Lives taken. Normalcy paused. It wasn’t over in two weeks.
Hugs. Muted conversations. It’s hard to read body language through a screen. A computer. A phone. (Can they please make a flashing sign or light to tell people where to look on a phone?) A door. From six feet apart.
For now, I’m alive. Not infected. Who knows, I haven’t been tested.
I keep my distance from everyone. I am medically fragile. I am still employed. I still have food. I still have shelter.
Thank you to the essential — the healthcare workers, the grocery workers, the truckers, the food manufacturers — I ordered commercial TP from Staples because they had it — the postal employees, law enforcement, and everyone who stays home. Thank you, you might have saved a life. Or mine.
I really need a haircut.
I miss my Mom. We’re not a hugging family. But this Mother’s Day, that’s gonna change. From six feet away, anyway.
After the virus is gone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

In Through There

I talk a lot about my family and the adventures that we have. I've mentioned several times about growing up on a small farm on Cherry Fork Road and the struggles that Mom and Dad had to keep us clothed and fed. I can't say that I remember every little detail because I can't. Sometimes, at family gatherings, one of us will mention a story that we had long forgotten, bringing us to tears and cracking us up at the same time.

Our family likes to tell stories. Nobody could tell a story better than Dad. And every time he told a story each important part would be punctuated with the saying "in through there". I don't know why he said that. He probably didn't realize he was saying it. Maybe, it was how he collected and ciphered through all of those tall tales in his head. One such story might go like this:

"Back when I was a kid, in '43 or in through there, there was a boy lived up the holler that we scared so bad, that he lit up a tree and didn't come down for three days. Damn, chicken shit, what he was. See, one night we was coming home from coon hunting and he got distracted, in through there and got left behind. Us fellows decided to teach him a lesson and hid behind a rock down there on Island Creek. You 'member where that is, don't you? Shit, he come around the corner, in through there, and we all just jumped out at him and he jumped back, screamed and took off a running, straight up the holler and up that big old oak tree, pissing his pants and carrying on like a girl. That was the funniest damn thing I ever have seen."

I've heard this story many times and I still get a laugh out of it. Besides being a great storyteller, here are some other things, in through there, about Dad:

He got drafted into the Army in the 50s and saw Elvis over in Germany.

He was scared of heights.

He loved watching Westerns on television.

He taught all of us how to play poker and shoot pool.

He could cuss a blue streak like no other.

He got up at 3:30 AM every morning without an alarm clock. (We never knew why)

His nickname was Diddy.

He planted a garden big enough (we all helped) to feed our family and still have enough left over to give away to family and friends.

Both of his pinky fingers had been cut off due to accidents as a child.

He liked Hudepohl beer.

He was a pattern marker for the Hercules Trouser Company in Manchester, Ohio, for 25 years.

He could outrun anybody in the neighborhood, including Sheldon, the boy from Hawaii.

He loved his family, deeply.

Sadly, he left us 18
years ago on this date.

Wherever you are, in through there, we miss you very much.


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