Thoughts During the Pandemic

Judy Colella

© Copyright 2020 by Judy Colella

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
             Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

What follows is a series of posts I made on Facebook during the shut-down phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. My husband and live in Central Florida where it’s not as bad as some other spots, but because of our age and his underlying health issues, we’ve confined ourselves almost exclusively to the house, only braving the supermarket with masks and gloves when we absolutely have to. It occurred to me that humor is a pretty good way to get through tough situations, so I wrote these hoping to lighten things up a bit for my friends and family. If at the end of reading these you conclude that I’m more than a little weird, I won’t tell you you’re wrong.

April 18, 2020
DISCLAIMER: What follows is a rant similar to what others may be sharing as the stay-at-home recommendations continue, and is in no way an expression of ingratitude for my husband and I being healthy so far. Thank God for that! So this is a rant. It is only a rant. Had it been an actual self-centered bitch session, I would have smacked myself upside the head with a frying pan.

RANT: My husband insisted I take a leave of absence from work because he was concerned I might bring the virus home, and since he's 72 with chronic bronchitis and a heart condition, I agreed it was a good idea. But there's a serious side effect, the one few people have said anything about, and here it is: He won't. Stop. Talking. Even as I type this, he is talking about some guy's bathroom. Just before that he was complaining about China. And before that, he was giving a speech about how the government should be run. Before that, it was a lecture on Schwinn bikes and how he could get a speedometer for the antique Apple Crate bike he got at the flea market. And before that, I got to hear the ENTIRE PLOT of a movie he watched last night (which was the only time I was left alone long enough to do some writing).

I'm not entirely sure he's taken a breath yet.

This, my friends is a... okay, now I'm being given a full description of someone's roof tiles, complete with hand gestures, and any second now, he's going to say the same thing in a different way. He has no idea what I'm doing and hasn't asked, but typing this is the only thing keeping me from throwing my coffee cup at him... if the guys in white coats and a huge butterfly net wandered by my house, I'd put on a filter mask, run out into the street, and start making squirrel noises just so they'd feel compelled to cart me away to the blissful silence of a padded room...

April 20, 2020
It’s Monday night. He’s still talking.

April 21, 2020 – 2:13 am
I'm about to go to bed, but I'm having second thoughts, thanks to the ongoing saga with my live-in, life-sized, male version of Chatty Cathy. And why the second thoughts? Because last night I dreamed I was being chased down the street by a pissed-off biscotti. Maybe because my husband is Italian. I don't know. But I'm staring at the bed with trepidation not too dissimilar to that of a virgin on her wedding night - you know, that whole fear-of-the-unknown thing (not that OTHER thing). What strange creature will jump out at me in Dreamland this time? Pasta in a straitjacket? Dang.

April 21, 2020 – 3:17 pm
Two words (okay, three, but two of them are hyphenated): FLESH-COLORED EARPLUGS! Yessss!!!! I'm saved!!!!

April 23, 2020
I just got a pop-up that said, "Stop harassing Malware." Seriously? I have never harassed Malware in my life! And how would they know.... oh. Never mind.

April 23, 2020
In the continuing tale of The Man Who Talked Too Much, I came to a horrifying realization. This, by the way, has nothing to do with the fact that he gave me a twenty-minute TED talk on Hot Wheels cars while I was trying to go to the bathroom... TMI? Sorry. Anyway, I heard him go outside, so I went into the kitchen to make the coffee, and was staring out the window as I filled the coffee pot at the sink.

That's when I realized why my husband put up the privacy fence. I mean, yeah, it's a good way to block out stuff you don't want to see in the neighbors' yards and all that, but I suddenly knew a deeper, darker purpose for all that expensive fencery was at play. My husband is skinny—that's not why he put up the fence but it sort of relates. He was watering the plants wearing nothing but a tee-shirt and Fruit-of-the-loom briefs, the three remaining strands of his hair-flap waving gently in the morning breeze.

Did I mention he's skinny? What would be whitey-tighties on anyone else are the equivalent of Austrian curtains on him. Not that I'd object to being that thin myself, but I digress. It occurred to me that the true purpose of that fence was so he could romp through the garden in something that barely contained, er, him, and not worry about becoming a meme on Facebook or going viral on YouTube because some neighbor with a cell phone caught him out there like that.

Why am I sharing this? Probably because he has since come back inside and I need to distract myself from what promises to be a lengthy explanation about the advantages of keeping small monkeys to make monetized YouTube videos.

April 26, 2020
I would formally like to thank my son for installing in our house the world's most effective alarm clock. It's called the Rebel, and is unique in that it has a severe overbite, something alarm clocks are not known for. Without fail, the orange cat that lives next door saunters along the sidewalk every morning at 6:15 am until it is sitting right in front of our living room windows. That's when the Rebel Clock goes into action, throwing itself violently against the window while shouting a clearly enunciated "Woof!" at said cat.

This amazing "woof" sound can be heard by every recording artist working in a sound-proof studio within a ten-mile radius of our house, so trying to sleep while this alarm is going off is impossible. As a result, I have decided that once we can feel safe about going about our business as usual, I will make sure I set all my appointments for early morning, since I know for sure I'll be up. Granted, that usually means up on the ceiling where I've splatted after being awakened in such an intense manner. My husband is looking into getting one of those flat snow shovel things because the spatula isn't quite big enough to pry me out of the popcorn (yes, our house is that old that we have popcorn ceilings).

So thank you, son. I will never have to worry about missing an appointment again.

April 27, 2020
All right, I admit it. If there was a three-acre field with only one hole in it somewhere, and I was walking across, I'd somehow find that hole without even trying and fall in. So while the rest of the world is on lock-down, I'm on fall-down. As I lay half on the driveway and half on the lawn, bleeding gently on the cement, I stared up at the sky and contemplated the mechanics of stepping on the one corner of a half-empty trash bag that had something round in it, causing me to lose my balance and crash to the ground. Not my most graceful moment for sure.

I considered the possibility of needing to go to the hospital, but pictured myself getting infected with the lovely virus going around and within days, shuffling off this mortal coil. What would my tombstone say? "She Lived, She Tripped, She Died..." or maybe, "Here Lies A Victim of Vile Trash Baggery..." Hmm. All of which became moot when my husband, The Man of a Billion Words, wandered out of the garage and asked me what the hell I was doing lying around on the driveway. Apparently I wasn't that badly injured if he didn't notice a river of blood pouring from my severed, well, okay, scraped leg. But hey, cement burn is nothing to snicker at, I'll have you know.

So after brushing a nosey ant off my left cheek and rolling onto my side, I managed to get to my feet, despite an urge to channel that I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up lady. I limped inside, glaring at Word Man's back, bandaged myself up, and now I sit here, acknowledging the possibility that were there only one rock on the entire planet, I would somehow stub my toe on it.

April 30, 2020 
Intercourse. Calm down, I'm talking about the town in Pennsylvania. When you get woken up in the middle of the night with a foot cramp that won't go away, odd thoughts often drift in to keep you company while you contemplate amputation. When I was a kid, my parents would drive to Pennsylvania to visit my mom's brother and his family. It was part of our summer vacation, and during my much younger years, the sign we passed with the word "Intercourse" several feet high never meant anything, except that we were closer to the end of an incredibly long trip, giving my brother and I hope that we wouldn't murder each other in the back seat before we got there. We were still visiting when I was a teen, and by that time, I was wise to the ways of the world... well, no, not really, but I knew the word "intercourse" also referred to something that would assure me a VIP ticket to Hell if I indulged in it.

And speaking of Hell, that's another town, this one in Michigan. Purgatory can be found in Maine (I guess that's the Catholic end of the Bible Belt or something). So why was I thinking of these places? I have no idea. But as I was hobbling around the living room in the dark (I didn't want to risk waking up my husband - he would probably start talking, and I doubted I could survive that, too), I found myself wondering if there were such a thing as a flatulent butterfly. Yes, I need help.

Anyway, I considered how bizarre a butterfly fart would sound. Could you imagine being at that Butterfly Encounter in Oviedo, FL and one of the little critters lets loose? I guess it would be a tiny, high-pitched "Ffftttt!!" Yeah. Okay, I'm getting another cup of coffee now and taking an aspirin. After reading this, you may need one, too...

May 1, 2020
I made the coffee. I sat down to answer an email. Himself came bopping out of the bedroom, grabbed a cup and poured, turned around, and started with, "Can you believe... " Paralyzed, I sat and listened, one eye twitching at the coffee maker. When he stopped and left the kitchen, I launched myself out of the chair, the paralysis gone, and got some coffee, praying he would put on a pair of pants. Sat down, started checking Facebook... and he was back.

"I can't believe... "

I glared at him (still in his underwear).

"Gee, am I bothering you or something?" He gave me one of those arch looks.

"No, not at all. I was just..." Yes, you are, in fact, and please put some pants on.

Picture, if you will, a sequoia-sized oak tree in the autumn wearing Fruit-of-the Loom briefs. The leaves have turned and are starting to fall. Soon, a pile begins to grow, and before long, the mound of leaves is four stories high. Now look carefully under the bottom layer. You'll see two bleary eyes blinking up at you. That's me, buried under the mountain of words my oak-tree spouse has released on my not-yet-awake-brain.

I considered climbing into the vegetable bin under the bottom shelf of the fridge and quietly shutting the door, but realized he'd see me, climb into the bin next to it, and start giving me a dissertation on the life and times of Romaine lettuce as I try desperately to stuff grape tomatoes into my ears...

May 2, 2020
Did I mention that one of the things my husband and I have been doing during this crisis is cleaning the garage? It's almost finished, but it was quite a chore. You know how most people who are not Martha Stewart usually have several piles of laundry to deal with? I'm ashamed to say I had neighborhoods. With subdivisions. Hence the 38 loads I washed during the first week. But ta-da! It's done, and as a result, several interesting things came to light, not just the garage floor ("Oh, look, honey, cement!").

The first thing was that three decades of guilt over most of the mess in that part of the house being my fault was dispelled. Once the laundry was done, about 99.99% of what remained was his stuff. Ha. In fact, he's still trying to find one of the walls we know has to be holding up the garage roof.

The second thing was that my husband has more clothes than Imelda Marcos had shoes. I mean, he could open a thrift store with the tee-shirts alone! I ran out of shelf and drawer space trying to put them all away after that horrifying week of laundering, and I'm still tripping over the neatly-folded piles of jeans, socks, and undershirts stacked on the bedroom floor because there was nowhere else to put them. And we all know tripping over things never ends well for me.

The third thing was that apparently, a man can't have too many screw drivers. When I pointed out that he couldn't possibly need twenty-five flat-heads, thirty-six Phillips heads, fourteen star-heads, nine sets of hex keys, and five electric screwdrivers with interchangeable heads, he gave me a look of disdain and said each one had a unique purpose. Ha. And here I'd been using a butter knife all these years. So I tried to apply his "logic" to the number of pots and pans I own, and got that same look. "A pan is a pan, and a pot is a pot" he said. I almost demonstrated the difference between my Farberware skillet and the cast-iron one, but didn't think it was worth potential jail time to make my point.

Finally, I had to acknowledge that... sorry. I have no idea what I was about to acknowledge. He's been telling me for the past ten minutes about his plan for mowing the lawn. A plan? Dude, just go out and mow the lawn! In case you're wondering how I've been getting away with typing this without him thinking he was being ignored, I don't have to look at either my hands or the screen while I type (old-school typing skills are awesome). So he's getting my now-customary glassy-eyed stare and frozen grin as I nod, type, and lose total track of what I was about to say.

May 3, 2020
Never use your cell phone in the dark to play a game while you’re trying to get drowsy enough to go to sleep. I’m sharing this as a public service, especially for those who live in Florida. Why? Because you may suffer the same disgusting fate as I did last night:
There I was, minding my own business, playing a match-3 game in the dark, hoping to bore myself to sleep. I’m sure the three cups of coffee I consumed an hour earlier had nothing to do with my insomnia, but I digress. Anyway, just as I was about to defeat the level I was on, a freaking bug, no doubt attracted by the phone’s light, flew up my nose.

Sitting bolt upright, I blew furiously through my offended nostril, but the stubborn little cretin had lodged itself firmly within whatever mucous membrane had been flashing a “Vacancy” sign. I blew again. I jammed a finger up there, desperately praying I wouldn’t have to hire a spider to go in there and get it.

While this was going on, I was apparently too involved in my dilemma to notice the look my husband must have been giving me. He had been sleeping. Now he wasn’t. How did I know? Because as I finally located the teensy interloper and was dragging it out, kicking and screaming, I heard, “What the hell are you doing?”

Hold on.” I got out of bed and zoomed off to get a tissue. Yuck. Bleh. But it was finally over, and my nasal passage was blissfully bug-free. Getting back into bed, I collected what was left of my dignity and told him a bug had flown up my nose.

Dead silence. Then, “Stop playing games on your phone in the dark.” Because, you know, I hadn’t just figured that out myself. He turned over and headed back to dreamland, but I swear I heard a controlled, snorted laugh. A moment later, I realized what I must have looked like during the entire incident, and went hysterical, eliciting a growl from my now sleep-deprived spouse.

So my penance today is to listen with genuine attention to every one of his twenty-minute chats, even if he gives one of them while I’m on the throne. Sigh.

I was born in New York City in the early ‘50s, and grew up loving to read. That soon translated to writing my own stories, which I have continued to do. I am also a musician who used to perform but later became a voice, piano, guitar, and music theory teacher. My husband and I have lived in Central Florida since moving here in 1986, and have loved every minute of it. I am currently a writer of fiction in various genres, so this kind of blog writing is new to me, but exciting for that very reason.

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