Life Before 25-Step Mail Routines
& Other Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors
Today is not a Monday, I’m afraid. Nor is it a Friday. Or even a Sunday.
I’m sorry to be the one to deliver this sad bit of news. It is a heavy burden, but one I shall discharge with dignified stiff upper lip.
In actuality, today is – as yesterday was before it and tomorrow will be after it – Coronaday.
Or perhaps I should say, today is ANOTHER Coronaday.
You know what I’m talking about.
Tell me you haven’t had that weird, almost-out-of-body sense of being a character in a tense indie film about the end of humanity being watched by a home theater audience, that you haven’t heard the distressed-scene score underscoring the monologue of your thoughts while walking the dog around the block. Or that you haven’t had to ask your fellow “self-quarantinees” what day it is. Multiple times. On the same day. Or that you haven’t been getting that bizarre “Bill-Murray-Groundhog-Day” vibe while brushing your teeth.
Don’t lie… I can tell.
It’s that look in your bloodshot, darkly bagged, pleading eyes. I’d be seeing it right now if we didn’t have to stay 6 feet apart.
It’s the longing for “BEFORE.”
As the old tune goes, “Those were the days, my friend / We thought they’d never end / We’d sing and dance forever and a day / We’d live the life we choose / We’d fight and never lose / Those were the days / oh yes those were the daaaayyyys!”
Perhaps we shouldn’t go that far back, but still, each of us has an idea of “the days.”
Remember? Before any of us had ever heard of coronavirus, COVID-19 or physical distancing?
Way back in the day, two months ago, before kids were home, zombized in front of phone screens 12 hours a day and sleeping the other 12.
This was before the hours and days of shelter-in-place time to kill led, regrettably, to drawn-out and sometimes disrespectful social media arguments about whether Donald J. Trump is a dangerous, narcissistic, self-serving imbecile or some kind of orange savior leading his people to the Promised Land.
(Full disclosure: I take the “imbecile” side of the argument.)
And it was prior to a FedEx delivery truck showing up on your street being an unadulterated thrill: “Is it for us?! Please! Pleeeease, let it be for us…”
This was before the host of latent obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors escaped, screeching, from the stringy messes of our miswired minds.
We could still leave the house to grab the mail, not a care in the world. Now there are steps we must take:
- Suit up in a homemade mask and rubber gloves.
- Open garage door.
- Exit home through garage.
- Open mailbox.
- Remove contents.
- Close mailbox.
- Re-enter garage.
- Set mail on floor.
- Recycle junk mail.
- Swab remaining envelopes and packages with bleach-soaked wipes.
- Set on board previously cleaned with bleach-soaked cloth.
- Remove mask and rubber gloves.
- Pick up mail.
- Re-enter home.
- Open mail.
- Recycle envelopes and packages.
- Repeat steps 10-11 on contents of envelopes and packages.
- Replace mask and rubber gloves.
- Re-exit home.
- Close mailbox, swipe handle with bleach-soaked wipe.
- Clean outside and inside knobs of door between garage and home upon re-entry.
- Re-remove mask and rubber gloves.
- Spray gloves with bleach-infused home disinfectant.
- Wash hands with soap and the hottest blasted goddamn sons-a-bitchin’ MOTHER-TRUCKER DUDE! water available. A full 20 count, if you please.
- Breathe unmasked sigh of relief.
Yep. Those were the days, all right, my friend, when the stars in the indie films of our lives still chit-chatted in their dressing rooms before the curtain flew up on this whole coronavirus/COVID-19 shit-show.
Back when days still had a “feel.”
Cookie-Cutter. Invariable. Nondescript.
Monday had a feel.
It was an “8 years old again and off to visit the uncle who always calls you ‘Slick’ before telling you to get him another beer” kind of feel. (I’ll spare you all the hyphens.) Tired and weighed down, but doggedly resolved to plow on through.
Friday definitely had a feel. It was an “I’ve been chained to a desk or shoveling shit from the back of a truck into flowerbeds all week but I’m finally off for a couple of days” feel. Excitement! Freedom! Maybe beer!
Sunday definitely had a feel. The “I stayed up way to late last night but, Yes!, I don’t have to do a thing today I don’t want to” feel. Lazy, mellow and, by evening, melancholy. Work again tomorrow, old chap.
There’s actually some science behind all this “Tuesday has no feel” talk. According to a 2015 study, “Overall, researchers found Monday (described as ‘boring,’ ‘hectic’ and ‘tired’ and Friday (associated with ‘party,’ ‘freedom’ and ‘release’) had more mental representations than Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and therefore were more distinct.”
But, no, my friends, today is not Monday. Nor is it Friday. Sunday, either.
Welcome, instead, to ANOTHER Coronaday.
These days, every day is Coronaday, and every Coronaday feels pretty much the same as the Coronaday before. And the Coronaday before that. And every doggone Coronaday through all these distanced weeks.
O.K., Then. Coronaday.
But, hey, that doesn’t mean this Coronaday can’t be an O.K. kind of Coronaday.
That is, unless you’re sheltering with your in-laws, a girlfriend whose cat you’re allergic to or a boyfriend whose obnoxious habits only revealed themselves as the assaults on the senses that they are when it was too late to move on. Pandemically speaking.
If that’s not you, then here are some pastimes that, in the words of Jean-Luc Picard, might “make it so.”
- Facetime. Facetime. Facetime.
- Read a good book. Or re-read 10.
- Exercise. But not too much.
- Watch an exciting or thought-provoking movie, even if you’ve seen it, like, 19 times before. (“Rango” anyone?)
- Binge new Netflix shows. But not too many.
- Binge old Seinfeld episodes. There can never be too many.
- Get some non-rectangular, non-technology “social,” i.e., actually talk, in-person, with your spouse and the kids who were never around BEFORE.
- Practice and perform an impression of “Uncle Slick.”
- Take a walk. If you have dogs, let them take you. Cross the street if someone is being walked by their dogs straight your way.
- Do something or watch something or read something or talk to someone guaranteed to make you laugh, or at least smile. Every day. Like walking my dogs, the Edith and Archie song, Mother Trucker Dude, Star Trek, Seinfeld, Rango, Halestorm and The Doors do for me.
- Throw a party. Balloons, streamers, glitter… the whole nine yards. Invite your family, roommates or whomever you’re sheltering with.
- Skip the 25 steps; the mail will still be there tomorrow.
- Speaking of Halestorm, my favorite comes from the band’s Lzzy Hale: “Music. I cannot stress this enough. Now is the time we truly get to see the healing powers of music. Listen to it, play it, share your playlists with friends.”
Whatever it takes, go with it. Because whatever day this is, we are indeed living through some “Strange Days.” (Cue The Doors.)
We’re going to be at this for a while longer, or at least we should, and maybe a lot longer given the insights of actual, real-life scientists and medical experts. You know, as opposed to the gut feelings of a spoiled, overcompensating, orange-tinted man-child.
You feel me?
Or, as my father used to say, back in the day –
“Hang in there, Baby!”
Seriously, though, we’re all trying to cope with the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic, loss of income, inability to see loved ones and on and on. If you’re depressed, overwhelmed or stretched thin emotionally, there’s help. Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “COVID-19 Daily Life & Coping” page or call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990.
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