Sunday, April 12, 2020

In Your Face

We have a neighbor who thinks this whole pandemic is one great conspiracy designed to get Trump out of office, following on the heels of the "fake impeachment." I know there are many people who feel this way but a conspiracy wherein countries all over the world  are willing to sacrifice their own citizens in large numbers to get the Great Orange One out of office seems grossly absurd.

Meanwhile, I'm adhering to sheltering in place and covering my face when I go out. Luckily, I don't have to go out much. Where I live, it's easy to go for a walk and not run into anybody so I don't see a lot of masks in the neighborhood. But when I leave the neighborhood, I wear a mask as do most of my neighbors.

I've seen some creativity when it comes to masks. Some people are having fun with it wearing colorful bandanas, some that look like skeletons, or the mouths of wild animals. I saw one on Facebook that had tiny penises on it provoking this response to the question, "Are those penises on your mask?": "If you can see those, you're standing within six feet. Now, back the eff up!"

If it wasn't so controversial, I would wear a niqab (as if penises on your face wouldn't be controversial). I mean, if we can all go to the grocery store looking like bank robbers, why not a niqab? We've spent so much time being afraid of them that this seems like the perfect time to wear one. The very same people who were afraid of them are now covering their own faces. Why not a niqab? It would cover my nose and mouth, and my hair which is perfect because it would cover up my gray roots. I would do it just for the irony.

I would do it just to piss off my neighbor.

Except I won't.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Does this sound familiar?

People gathered in homes to avoid plague, pestilence, and death. We might not eating lamb but there's been plenty of feasting on whatever we have. Surely, there is wine involved. Waiting for this to pass over, each of us vested with a certain amount of faith that if we stay where we are, we will be safe. Many are abstaining from work. Some have no choice about it while others mindfully avoid work by avocation.

Will this be over by Easter? Decidedly, no. Will this be over in a week? Heavenly, but unlikely. Still, this will pass and who knows what the world will look like when we emerge?

Certainly, the solution is bigger than ourselves but what we make of it is up to us.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

It's been a while since I've been out.

A woman stands in front of a house. She is wearing a full hazmat suit in white. There is a blue hose connecting an air supply to the back of her hood. She peers through her protective face shield at the empty street. There are no cars, no people. She glances back at the house before starting down the desolate road.

She walks for several blocks through a modest neighborhood where everything is still. Cars are in driveways or at the curb. Not all of the trash cans have been put away. Newspapers are piled up and yellowing in one yard. For a second, she thinks she detects motion behind a drawn curtain. She presses on.

She comes to a vacant parking lot where there is an occasional abandoned shopping cart. Gas pumps stand ready for no one. She walks past closed shops at merchandise and dreams of what it would be like to have the items on the other side of the plate glass windows. She wonders what it would be like to even desire such things.

Suddenly, pneumatic doors slide open before her. She steps through and stops. The store is well lit. There is soothing music playing throughout but it sounds artificial with no one to hear it. She advances slowly, looking for signs of life. The store appears well stocked, a cheerful oasis. There are bright colors where the produce is artfully arranged and neatly stacked. She picks up a cantaloupe and raises it to her face shield. She imagines she can smell it. She lets her hand drift over the avocados.

She glances down the aisle and ventures farther into the store. There is fresh meat in glass cases and fresh fish. She turns and passes aisle after aisle, seeing no one, until she comes to a refrigerated shelf stocked with cartons of eggs. She checks her surroundings before reaching for one. Tucked under her arm, she checks again to see if anyone is there. She steals away another carton and begins to move more quickly through the store.

She grabs a carton of milk and then begins to look earnestly for other supplies. She finds water but her hands are full. She kicks a case of water ahead of her on the floor to the end of the aisle. She leaves it to find paper supplies. She comes to an aisle with Kleenex. She sees paper napkins, then paper plates, and, finally, paper towels at the far end. There is a large vacant section in the middle of the shelf that stretches from one end of the aisle to the other.

She carefully puts her procured treasure on the floor and starts slowly down the aisle. She inspects the products that are still on the shelf. She looks at the brand names and the prices. Again, she checks to see if anyone is coming. She continues past the vacant shelves looking deep into their dark recesses until she makes it to the paper towels where she stops to consider her options.

Suddenly, her eyes grow large. She grabs at her face shield. In a panic, she reaches for the shelf and knocks over rolls of paper towels. She whirls around and sees the Kleenex at the other end but it's too late and she knows it. Instinctively, she wraps an arm over her face and sneezes - once, twice - splattering the inside of her shield. Momentarily stunned, she falls to her knees and begins clawing at her face. She coughs and seems to be gasping  for breath. Frantically, she tries to remove her hood but has trouble undoing the fasteners. She tears at it but makes no progress. At last, she is able to remove her gloves and rip her hood off. She lies on the floor, breathing hard. She is both relieved and afraid. She's vulnerable now.

She starts to get up and make her way back to her personal stash of food when she hears the squeaky wheel of a shopping cart. She freezes as a man briefly passes through the open space at the end of the aisle and disappears. How long had he been here? His cart was full. In the space of two seconds, she could see how full his hair was, how soft his shirt looked, and how well his jeans fit.

She shakes thoughts of desire from her head and starts to scramble in his direction, back to her unprotected items as quickly and as noiselessly as she can. She trips over fallen paper towel rolls, back past the empty shelves to the front of the store. She begins to pick up her items when she sees the man touching a screen with his bare hands and sliding items from his cart over a scanner, a chipper beep after each one passes.

He turns and sees her. He smiles. He is between her and the door but now starts towards her with an outstretched hand, naked and open. Moving fast now, she reaches her eggs. From her knees she begins throwing them at him. Her first misses but the second connects. He is stunned, the smile falters. He continues towards her and she takes aim, throwing eggs in rapid succession. He puts his arms up to protect himself then finally turns away. He pauses at his cart and considers what to do when she starts again with the second carton of eggs.

Finally, he flees with the doors sliding softly closed behind him. She pants and looks at her hands. They are obviously dirty and after a moment's hesitation she wipes them on the pants of her suit. She stands and once more checks to see if she is alone. The music continues but she hears no other sound. She comes out from the protection of the aisle and starts tentatively towards the door with whatever she can carry from her small pile until she gets to his cart still in the checkout line.

It's in there. She can sense it. She drops everything and digs into the cart pushing things aside, throwing some to the floor until she finds it - a four-pack roll of toilet paper. She grabs it and leaves everything behind. She runs to the door and halts. It slides open but she doesn't step through. The doors swoosh closed then open again. She stands, frozen. The doors close.

She takes a step and the doors open. She clutches the toilet paper to her chest and steps through. Then takes off running.

Friday, April 3, 2020

This virus is making me go gray. LIterally.

Simulation - do not try at home.
I'm not really blonde. If you didn't know that, you will soon.

For a few years, I've wondered when was the right time to go gray. Some of my friends already have. Some never dyed their hair in the first place.

I started dying my hair about 20 years ago. I was all pepper then, my natural color mostly faded at that point. I always thought of myself as having brown hair. Some of my older photos have embarrassingly shown up on Facebook with very dark hair. People who didn't know me then are shocked when they see them. (Frankly, so am I.)

When I was in high school, I thought it was a medium brown. It darkened in my 20s and then was pretty much devoid of color in my 30s.

It started as color with a few highlights. Over the years, the highlights took over and I became blonde. I remember the first time someone called me a blonde. I'm not blonde! I declared, shocked and slightly offended for reasons that were based in stereotypes. About that time, I shared a photo with my dad who also remarked Whoa! Who's the blonde? Was he kidding or did he truly not recognize me?

Due to the pandemic, many businesses are now closed including hair salons. It's been about five weeks since I last colored my hair which is now becoming obvious. Has sheltering in place provided the answer as to when I go gray?

I don't know if I'm ready, if I'm truly being honest. I only have one hat so something will have to give - either my hair or this pandemic.

Can't we all agree it would be better to do away with this pandemic?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

For All It's Worth

Remember when we were young and we would look at our bodies and marvel, "Look at this!" Maybe with some pride as when showing off new muscles. Maybe with horror as with a new zit.

Now, we look at our bodies and marvel, "What the hell is this?" Some spot, maybe a bump, definitely sagging. Hair appearing in new places and disappearing from others. Such was the case when I discovered my elbows were becoming dark. They looked as if they were bruised, a dark purple-ish color. Another sign of ageing or dreaded condition?

Naturally, I spoke to Google of my concern. Google provided this response: "Dark elbows occur when your elbows accumulate darker skin than the rest of your arm. . . ." Thanks for that, Healthline.

Among several suggestions such as applying yogurt and oatmeal to the elbows, Healthline recommended moisturizer and sunscreen. That seemed reasonable. The remedy worked.

However, it turns out my dark elbows were neither a dreaded skin condition, nor another sign of ageing. It was my desk chair.

I had recently ordered, and assembled at home, a new desk chair. It was put together within a relatively short period of time and without too much gnashing of teeth. There were no leftover parts after assembly signifying that I must have done it correctly. It was inexpensive, yet comfortable.

As it turns out, the surface of the plastic armrests were rubbing off and staining my elbows within only a few weeks of normal, daily use. I had noticed one of the arms was feeling sticky and it left a tar-like stain on a yellow sweatshirt. I took it for something I might have spilled although I couldn't imagine what that could be. I wiped the arm clean and noticed no further problems.

Soon, both elbows started to darken. Gradually, at first. Until one day, my elbows were smudged with the same tar-like stains as my shirt. The source was now obvious. Luckily, I still had the warranty information. Ready to seek remedy, I noticed the email address for customer service was hosted by Yahoo. This instilled no confidence as to what service they might offer.

I decided I would have more luck putting hand towels over the arms. I can't say it looks very professional but it's better than black elbows. It has the further advantage of making the chair look exactly what it is worth - about $45.

It also has the advantage that if I should ever spill something on my chair's armrests, it will be relatively easy to clean up.