Behind the Mask

April 19, 2020

I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m in a Coronaviral Spiral. I’m a Covid-19 eating machine. I have little or no human contact except for my Zooms and calls from people checking on me (thank you to my daughters and those friends who are aware that I just might run outside naked just to shake things up a bit – including my lily-white thunder thighs.) Just kidding. My mental state is fine, all things considered.  While I prefer the company of people, living alone for the last almost five years has given me some preparation and perspective for this government-imposed period of isolation, in the name of “flattening the curve.” I wish I could say the same for my curves which are doing anything but flattening. If I keep up my current love affair with the refrigerator, my ass is going to need its own zip code.

These last 38 or 549 days, but who’s counting, have given me pause on a lot of things. They have also given me the opportunity for self-examination, self-reflection, a renewed sense of wonder about things I never have thought about or knew anything about and have presented me with lots of questions about some really weird or stupid shit I never in a million years thought I’d be blogging about. But, did I see a pandemic in my future even eight weeks ago? Did the words “social distancing” have any significance in daily conversation? Nope. So here we are. The only places we can go are the so-called “essential” businesses, grocery stores, big box stores, banks, auto repair shops, and liquor stores. Liquor stores should be at the top of the list, even if they don’t sell toilet paper. Apparently in some states, the powers that be decided it was a good idea to declare liquor stores as non-essential and therefore, ordered them closed during this crisis. Apparently, they didn’t consult with the parents of toddlers, the parents of school-aged children, the parents of teenagers, people who don’t have children but have neighbors who do, people who hate children, people who behave like children, and people who just think liquor stores should be open and at their disposal at all times. I, for one, am grateful to live in a state that acknowledges the wisdom of open liquor stores and where one can purchase wine and beer in the grocery store. What a great way to multi-task.

Speaking of the grocery store, maybe it’s because I try to avoid going until I absolutely need to go (and on the off chance that I might be lucky enough to snag that elusive pack of toilet paper), but are you like me and find yourself uncharacteristically putting things into your cart that you never would have considered buying before? Is it that trendy FOMO? (Fear OF Missing Out) Who among us has always yearned for, but erred on the side of fiscal responsibility, giddily picked up a bag of organic seaweed snacks or the equally tantalizing crunchy seasoned peas? Now is the time! When will we ever have another pandemic in our lifetime to excuse such irresponsible behavior? I did hesitate at the soup section when I saw the attractive box emblazoned with the name “Miso Easy.” I had flashbacks from high school and needed to take a deep breath and step away. And to add one final touch of weird irony on my recent shopping trip during this time of world crisis and uncertainty, I spied the following in the frozen food section: the brand was Sweet Earth, such a lovely idea; the product was Borderless Enchiladas. Hmmmm, I think my 10th grade literature teacher would smack me in the face if I couldn’t pick out the irony there. Rest in peace, Sister D.

Home life during this period of uncertainty has taken on its own personality and from what I have ascertained, a lot of it revolves around food, either because we are all eating because we’re bored or we are turning to cooking – because we are bored. I am guilty of both. On Easter Sunday, I decided to cook a good meal – for me, myself, and I (three of my closest friends) and of course, Bruno would also be rewarded for sharing his home with me by benefitting from errant food placement. Note to self: Bruno and baked ham are not a good combination. Enough said. Suffice it to say, me, myself, and I appreciated the effort made on Easter Sunday as well as on other evenings when a genuine attempt to make a decent dinner to show me, myself, and I that I matter (so do me and myself), and that presentation is everything.  This is not to say that on other evenings, I don’t really care how me and myself are feeling and have a rice cake with peanut butter for dinner. And I am not above tearing open a package of Ramen noodles – ah, college memories! Or I will throw together some admittedly weird culinary combinations simply because they are nearing expiration and I hate wasting food. Don’t scoff until you’ve tried scrambled eggs with beets on the side; radishes, sliced cheese, and toast; Multi-grain Cheerios as your entrée and Peeps for dessert; the list goes on.

With nowhere to go, there are lots of options for entertainment from games, puzzles, reading, network television, movies, Netflix, etc. When I first moved to North Carolina last year, I discovered Law & Order: SVU. It’s been around for over 20 years and going strong. Now that I am an Olivia Benson freak, I can catch up pretty much any day of the week.  I am also here to bare my soul, throw myself at your mercy and beg you for your understanding. I started watching the Hallmark Channel. I know. I know. I scoffed and ridiculed the very same people who got sucked in. I promise you. I did not get sucked in, but I did become fascinated by these poorly acted, for the most part, poorly written, thinly plotted but I am guessing lucrative ventures for the network. So, please give me some slack. I attribute my viewership to research. I have learned the following: many of the actors are Canadian. They have a small cadre of actors, being recycled in and out of the annoyingly similar plot lines. You come to prefer certain actors. The themes are formulaic and cover just a few premises: ambitious girl returns to her hometown to save the family business, travels to a small town to shut down a revered family company, is hired to perform a service, write a book, etc. She meets a handsome protagonist. They initially clash. There may or may not be a third party, old boyfriend or girlfriend to create conflict. There is a lie or misunderstanding that creates confusion. About 15 minutes before the movie ends, the couple either has a fight, or fate inexplicably intervenes and it appears that the love is doomed and both crestfallen lovers part ways seemingly to be doomed to a life of cheap vodka, bad decisions, and tragically, without true love. Magically, with three minutes before the closing credits, they are reunited, all is well, and they share a chaste kiss, because in the Hallmark world, these two have never seen each other naked. Have I covered it? Hallmark is a very strange world is all I can tell you.

Many folks have used this down time to get organized, cleaning out closets, assembling photos into digital formats and purging their garages of unwanted items. Charitable organizations will be flush with stuff and hard-pressed to accommodate all the donations coming their way once the virus goes on its way. I, for one, an admitted clothes horse, have thinned the wardrobe considerably filling several bags for donation. Speaking of clothing, I have learned over the last oh so many weeks, that I have very few apparel choices each day – not by necessity, but by choice. Quite simply, do I wear the black sweats or the grey sweats? Do I wear full length or capri length? Do I wear a long sleeve or short sleeve t-shirt? And depending on the temperature, there is only one choice – my ratty, pilled, grey cable misshapen, I don’t care what it looks like, sweater. I have lost all sense of style and purpose. And honestly, I don’t care. It will come back. It’s like riding a bike.

There are days I don’t even look in the mirror. And to be truthful, there are days I don’t shower. My nail technician is going to need hazard pay. My nails look like talons and things are getting lost under them. I have tried to cut them, but I fear only a hacksaw will do the job. Writing this blog has been an exercise in the old hunt and peck method. I have a new respect for women of certain “professions” who wear their nails longer than most for certain aesthetic appeal. My hat is off to you. Speaking of a hat, I haven’t resorted to wearing one yet, but that day is coming soon. The hair is getting longer, difficult to manage, and of course, the tell-tale evidence that I might have a color indicating my status as a senior citizen, is quickly rearing its ugly head – see what I did there? So clever. I recently fired my new hair stylist and had found one who really listened to me, so I can’t wait to renew our new girlmance. This grey hair bullshit is bad for my mojo.  But to show I am not a total philistine, I did put on lipstick this morning before I went to the grocery store, but sadly I had forgotten that I wear a mask, so what’s the point? It’s a shame really. My friendly smile at strangers is now lost as well, because, it’s behind the mask. Behind the mask: I think I just named my blog.

5 thoughts on “Behind the Mask

  1. You did it again! So look forward to “Widow’s Pique” blog! Hope we can all get through this pandemic without to many scars or nightmares. Hopefully it never happens again in our lifetimes and we can all stay safe and healthy! 👍😌

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  2. Hey Mary, how’s it hanging? Now that I am on shore again, permanently I might add, I’m reading your blog. I want to thank you for the laughs as they are much needed these days. I had a huge smile remembering Sister D, our English teacher, terror that she was. Good memories. All the best

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    1. Thanks, Joanne. It’s therapy for me. Welcome home. I don’t know if you have my cell. PM me, and we can exchange numbers for texting purposes.

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