Greetings, fellow Quarantinos.
Social distancing is my normal, so a few weeks ago when the State of Texas decreed that everyone had to stay the heck away from me, I felt like I had won the lottery. I, along with the local canine population, was more than happy to stay home and watch Netflix. The happiness of the neighborhood dogs out for perhaps their first walkies this year has overjoyed me (Stadler could care less) on our now twice-daily bike rides. In fact, I read a story this week about a poor puppy who had to be taken to the vet because after two days of quarantine he sprained his tail from wagging it too much.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that I can’t go to the grocery store because somehow, despite the restrictions, the stores are fuller than they’ve ever been.
Introverts notice stuff like this.
My usual shopping pattern was to get groceries once a week at 6 a.m. right when the store opened. I miss doing stupid dances down the deserted aisles to 80’s pop songs blasting over the intercom. “She-Bop” never sounded quite so boppy as it did at 6:03 a.m. in HEB.
As you all know, this method is no longer effective. The lines start as soon as the store opens, and it seems like there’s never a good time to zip in and out.
This week, however, it had been fifteen days since I’d been to the store and my larder consisted of two cans of black beans, some frozen tortillas, and my hurricane rations stash of ramen noodles which has dwindled to four lonely packets on an otherwise empty shelf.
Luckily, I have plenty of loose tea and strange condiments. How long can a person survive on peri-peri sauce? I’m going to guess about five minutes.
Pushed to an obvious limit, I decided to try a grocery run on Sunday. The timing was bad, but I steeled myself to the sticking point and ventured out.
It was a complete, unmitigated disaster.
I wound up a tearful wreck in a Wal-Mart parking lot watching bandana wrapped humans stand way too close together in a line defined on either side by shopping carts. One way in, no way out – like a kill chute at a slaughterhouse. I’d rather starve, although I am going to start wearing bandanas – not because I believe they’re particularly effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, but because I also want to look like an 1880’s train robber in a “clever” disguise.
I headed home to my couch to rethink the problem. I don’t want to get that close to people even when it’s not the plague apocalypse, so I came up with a series of potential solutions to help people who just can’t understand social distancing get the picture.
- Duct tape a chef’s knife to broom handle the tip of which is at exactly six feet. You swing it around yourself to create a circle of death.
Potential problems include: arrest, accidental self-stabbing during transportation of device, and that it’s really difficult to sustain a death circle while loading bags of frozen French fries into your cart. Death circles are a two-handed affair.
Possible alternate use: you could run the pole through the holes near the cart handle and go full-on medieval knight joust style, but this leaves your back undefended. Also, a wheeled cart with basically a lance stuck through it rolling down a grocery aisle may cause heart attacks, fainting, or counterattacks with canned goods. Wear a helmet.
2) Fill a Super Soaker with grape juice. Problems: you will get covered in grape juice because those things leak like sieves, but if you’re permanently sticky anyway, no problem. Bonus: doubles as The Communionator — a safe way for pastors and priests to deliver communion. Must be used in combination with a repurposed NERF Vortex Nitron Disc Blaster for concurrent distribution of the Jesus Pieces (wafers),
3) Construct a hedgehog suit using a leftover inflatable sumo costume. Simply tape sharp thorny things to the exterior of the outfit while it’s in the deflated position. Put on the still airless suit, drive to the store, get out of car, inflate suit causing the thorns stick out. Potential problems: none, obviously.
4) Banjos. Bring a banjo and play it aggressively any time anyone gets too close. Like really play it AT them, full eye contact the whole time. Works best if you have no idea how to play a banjo. Bagpipes are also effective, but you can play those correctly.
5) The zombie defense. Cover yourself in chum. The smell will keep most people at least six feet away so that you can shop in peace. If you can’t stand chum, Drakkar Noir works just as well, but you have to spray it constantly and you have to smell Drakkar Noir the entire time. According to the blockbuster film, “Silence of the Lambs” a generous application of Vick’s Vapor rub directly in both nostrils should help, assuming you consider Vick’s Vaper Rub nicer than chum. Most people don’t.
Caution: neither chum nor Drakkar Noir will work at WalMart.
6) Toilet paper toss: if you’ve been hoarding and have extra, bring it to the store and chuck rolls past interlopers yelling, “GO GET IT, BOY.” Bonus points if you can throw really far. Maybe one of those things you use to launch tennis balls for the dog would work?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the raw materials to implement most of my own suggestions. On Sunday, I managed to procure a gigantic bottle of white wine, two huge bags of potato chips, and a loaf of Mrs. Baird’s Gas Station White Bread (nutrition free since 1963) at the 7-11, so I’m set for the time being. I’ll try the stores again later this week, but until then, it’s just me and the good old musical fruit.
Don’t worry about me. I’ll just blame it on the dog.