Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

pallets of costco toilet paper

My extreme couponing doesn’t seem so insane anymore, does it, Helen?

“Insane.” That was the word you used, wasn’t it? Let’s see if I remember your exact words.

“Nobody needs a hundred cases of pinto beans, Henry. I don’t care if you got them by preying on an acne-scarred cashier who mistakenly honored four competitor’s Sunday inserts and a rebate slip with an illegible expiration date,” you said. “Pallets of tuna fish cans! Pallets! Up to the ceiling. It’s insane, Henry, insane!”

I remember it clearly even though it was years ago. It was an oddly humid winter afternoon when I found you there, rooting around my stacks of Barilla rotini and Jif in search of an exit to the cozy fortification I created to be our apocalyptic escape home. You let out a little victory cry as you squeezed one last time out the steel door, obscured as it was by my towers of Ivory and Charmin.

Well, who wants some soap and TP now, Helen, hmm?

You do. You and those little germ magnets you had with my former best friend. I never wanted children because of this. This day would inevitably come, it was just a question of whether the cause would be the commies, the crazies or the zombies – maybe it finally turned out to be all three. So now you’re “sheltering in place” with runny-nosed sugar fiends whining about their boredom. Ha! Haha-HA! Only one week with no school, no before-school care, no afterschool care, no Tiny Terrorist Soccer to take them off your hands and wear them out and now – NOW – you finally understand me. Tell me this: Is the little sleep you have filled with nightmarish squeals for juice boxes or an endless loop of that Baby Shark song? 

Meanwhile, I’m happy. I’m happy here alone with my sharp thoughts, sharper scissors and the comfort of my winnings from years of carefully snipping the shiny, colorful fliers fools and spendthrifts like you ignored in your scramble for the weekly TV listings or yesterday’s box scores. I smile at the 200 bottles of lavender and chamomile Softsoap on my left, the three dozen cases of Purell with aloe on my right and box upon box of French’s yellow mustard sitting right in front of me. OK, that last one -- not my best couponing coup, I admit. But did you forget that day when canned Vienna sausage was two-for-one during the close out sale at A&P Fresh? I didn’t, Helen. I. Didn’t.

I feel like that four-eyed bookworm Burgess Meredith played in The Twilight Zone, surveying the library volumes he rescued from the nuclear wasteland. Except if my reading glasses break, I’m comforted knowing that I scrimped and saved and used every inch of those mile-long CVS receipts to purchase enough drugstore cheaters to outfit an army of farsighted nerds.

So, Helen, now you’re back. Knocking, pounding, pleading to let you back into my world. You admit I was right. I’m not the insane one, any longer. So you want me, your dear Henry, to be your shelter in the invisible storm polluting the very air we breathe and things we touch. Well, all right. I will let you in. Just keep your damn dirty hands off MY can opener.


  1. Tiny Terrorist soccer ���� I do not miss that era as I gently continue the aging process. Toss Helen the mustard and then wash your hands.��
    Purell with aloe sounds better than a night out at a top rated steakhouse (and we Midwesterners know how to snarf down the beef).

  2. TT soccer still gives me nightmares. Be safe and healthy.


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