My wife and I are very different people. She is generally upbeat, believes deeply in the power of positive thinking.
I am a realist.
So, we've always joked that we could never work together. She would fire me, because — let's face it — she'd be the boss in any scenario where we'd be co-workers.
Enter: The Coronavirus Self-Quarantine of 2020.
When it became apparent that we'd both be working from home — essentially working together — we decided it would be best for the health of our family if she set up a home office outside of mine.
Two-plus weeks in, miraculously, I am still employed as her husband.
I realized early on how challenging and unique this quarantine would be for our family and the world at large. So I started a daily journal of the goings-on in our home, where we live with our 9-year-old son, L.J., a dog and a cat.
First off, these are stressful times, and the gravity of this pandemic is not lost on me. But finding laughter amid the uncertainty and fear seems just as important as staying informed, washing our hands and stockpiling toilet paper.
— L.J. woke up with a dry cough and a low-grade fever. Jessica is worried he has the coronavirus. She intimated that we should self-quarantine for two weeks.
— I ventured to Walgreens for a prescription refill and tissues. My senses were oddly heightened. Like, someone walked past me while talking and I reflexively leaned away from her open mouth. I wanted to get out of there ASAP ... but not before I spent 10 minutes picking out Reese’s and Hershey's miniatures that were 3 for $7.
— Saw a parody for a coronavirus quarantine schedule on Facebook. Very funny. But it neglected to set aside an hour every day to "firm up hellfire home-defense plans for arrival of coronarmageddon."
— We got a hot tip on some cabbage and potatoes, so I cautiously entered Food Lion, which was a hive of activity at 2 p.m. on a Monday. I stared down anyone who came near me. I tried to breathe as little as possible. I helped an old man get some Raisin Bran from the top shelf but was worried he was gonna try to touch me when I handed it to him. I stocked up on Utz chips essentials. Also, is it me or is my throat scratchy?
— Two days in, Jessica was already ready to strangle me because my Utz chip crunching was annoying her.
— Two days in, I had a thought: Most people are self-absorbed egomaniacs. Imagine what we’re gonna be like after several weeks of spending time around just ourselves.
— We watched "The Goonies." L.J. loved Sloth. But there’s no way a kids movie made today would include a deformed, mentally handicapped man who is kept prisoner by his family and is laughed at by everyone.
— The day started at 6 a.m. with a crisis: L.J.’s Nintendo Switch would not connect to the WiFi. He almost lost it.
— I almost lost it a few hours later when the corned beef for our St. Patrick's Day dinner nearly didn’t fit into the crock pot.
— While playing on his Switch later, L.J. repeatedly yelled “Get to the chopper!” because there was a helicopter in "Fortnite." He has no idea this line is from the movie “Predator” — which was on Directv last night. I tried to let L.J. watch it, but his mother said no way — it's too violent. So we watched “The Goonies” — which includes a deformed, mentally handicapped man who is kept prisoner by his family and is laughed at by everyone.
— I created my first “school” lesson on St. Patrick for L.J. based on a web article. My father always told me I should've minored in education. L.J. immediately started whining about how long the article was. I immediately realized why I didn't minor in education.
— Silver lining: At least this social distancing might expedite L.J.’s ambition toward becoming a professional gamer.
— I found several wrappers in the basement waste basket. Someone has been getting up very early and raiding my hoard of Reese’s and Hershey's Miniatures.
— Jessica found out Safeway canceled our online grocery order. She is beginning to worry about the apocalypse.
— I was in my office working when I heard L.J. forcefully spitting something out in the kitchen. He had taken a swig from his Sprite before noticing there were ants on the top of the can. I wasn't sure how far his droplets spread, so I lectured him that it's not a good idea to spit in the house during a pandemic.
— L.J. continued telling me about the chopper in "Fortnite." I continued trying to act interested, but I am no Tom Hanks. And right now, I am not sure I want to be Tom Hanks anyway.
— With virtual learning inevitable, we added another device to our home collection by buying a Chromebook for our son to use in “school.”
— Went to the liquor store for my dad to fortify his beer supply. When I placed the 12-pack on his front porch, he thanked me — but it was obvious he was expecting more.
— L.J.’s new Chromebook arrived. He christened it by eating Utz crab chips overtop of it and smearing chip grease all over the keyboard while playing a "school" game.
— I read a story about what to do if you order carry-out like we did last night to support a local restaurant. Apparently, we didn’t follow any of the rules that were laid out.
— Turned on President Trump’s presser. He described something as “tremendous, tremendous.” In a sign of how little we have watched TV news during this presidency, Jessica said, “He’s not a very good speaker.” I turned it off. Later, I saw clips from the presser, in which Trump berated a reporter who’d asked a legitimate question — thereby providing a tremendous, tremendous example of why we don’t watch TV news during this presidency.
— My next-door buddy Dan, who got off Facebook last year because people are stupid, took over his wife’s account to post a long, pointed message on our neighborhood page to ask people to not be stupid. He said, “Stop going to parks; stop having porch parties; stop allowing playdates; stop allowing your teenagers to dictate how life is lived. If you want out of this anytime before the end of the summer, it is YOUR job to social distance and spread the word. Stay home, put down your Instagram, Candy Crush, Pornhub, or whatever, and take this OPPORTUNITY to connect and reconnect with your loved ones. Make the most of this time.” So, thanks to his common-sense diatribe, some folks in our ‘hood now have butts that are as chapped as their hands.
— I noticed the back-right wheel on my 13-year-old lawn mower is loose and will probably fall off soon. Meaning, since I am an idiot who can’t fix anything, my grass is going to grow into a jungle during the quarantine, and the HOA is gonna fine me — even though the jerks who don’t practice social distancing or pick up their dog’s crap continue getting off scot-free. If I get fined by the HOA, I will have Dan direct a nasty Facebook post at them from his wife’s phone.
— Our cat, who is 18, puked for the third day in a row. The dog, meanwhile, made a coughing noise. Jessica is concerned he has coronavirus.
— Noticed that even though so little is actually going on now, I feel overwhelmed about keeping up with everything that’s happening. Also, I’m feeling real pressure to say/create/share things that make fun of everything that's happening. This is hard.
— Moments before Jess was about to bake the chicken breasts I’d defrosted for dinner, she noticed the expiration date and asked when I had froze them. I told her I didn’t know if it had been before or after they were expired. We argued and yelled. She was mad at my bad memory. I was mad at her for getting mad about my bad memory. We threw the chicken out, because a bout with salmonella would likely send us to a hospital, where we could also contract coronavirus. We pivoted to breaded Perdue tenders.
— L.J. came downstairs and noticed we were having breaded Perdue tenders again. He complained. I yelled at him. It was about this time I thought that getting salmonella couldn’t be so bad because it might get me out of the house for a bit.
— When I walked away for a moment, our cat, who had puked for the fourth straight day, stepped up on the table next to the couch and ate some of my breakfast brownie.
— L.J. said, “We’re definitely gonna be quarantined for a few more weeks probably.”
— We watched “Batman” and “Caddyshack” because I have chosen to continue using this quarantine to add more screen time to my son’s life — bringing the total to 14 hours per day — for the purpose of culturing him with old movies that feature weird people like a fully-functioning homicidal artist and Rodney Dangerfield.
— L.J. screamed in fear. He had stuck his right middle finger through a plastic ring, and it wouldn’t come off. I thought I was gonna have to take him to the hospital to get it removed. As I examined the predicament, I was also thinking of how I could create a homemade hazmat suit for our trip to the ER. There has to be a YouTube tutorial for that, right? I started to panic. Then, thankfully, he popped the ring off.
— My son is constantly chewing gum.
— I’ve noticed how much I hate the noise of people chewing gum.
— Jessica made L.J. a banana milkshake for dessert. He refused to eat it because she wouldn’t let him eat it in front of the TV, where he was attempting to fulfill his 16-hour daily screen-time allotment (yes, I bumped it up two more hours today).
— Jessica, who is a principal, conducted a virtual faculty meeting about distance learning. She told her staff it’s important to always “keep calm and breathe.” She learned that from one of her supervisors. I laughed under my breath, because I’ve never cited an inspirational quote unless it was to make fun of it. And then I wondered how we are still married.
— In the Bright Ideas daily calendar, today’s exercise for my "student" suggested reading the sentence “Where are you going?” four times, putting an emphasis on a different word each time, then discussing the meanings. Regardless of those meanings, we are going nowhere.
— Jessica and L.J. went for a walk, during which our son asked his mother if married people have to have sex. She said it seemed like this had been weighing on his mind. I do not wish to comment further on this.
— L.J. did a reading about "The War of Worlds" radio broadcast from the 1930s. Much surprised him. “They had cars then?!” he asked. After another history assignment, he couldn’t believe people had TVs in the 1970s. When he grows up, his kids are not going to believe there was a time when people shook hands, hugged, or touched each other in any manner.
— Jess ran another faculty video call. “WE GOT THIS,” she said while signing off. About an hour earlier, in an email to a fellow FNP editor, I said, “This sucks.”
— The dog stared at me again from about 11 a.m to 7 p.m. I’m starting to feel very sorry for him.
— “What’s been your favorite part of the coronavirus quarantine so far,” Jessica asked L.J.
“Napping,” he said.
For me, it’s been the riveting game we just played: “What sounds can our deaf 18-year-old cat hear?”
— After watching "Judge Judy" again, I’ve decided that when we get out of quarantine, I'm no longer messing around. When I am around people who start acting stupid, I’m gonna stop them by yelling, “Just a second!” Then, I will tell them they’re stupid. It works for Judge Judy, and she makes $47 million a year.
— My neighbor Billy watched a young man from across the street walk behind our house and snatch the lacrosse net that Billy had placed beyond our fence. The kid then dragged the net across the street to his backyard. So, it appears we’ve reached something close to the “looting neighbors’ backyards” portion of the quarantine.
— I had nasty words for Rosie. Some foul language was used. Because, dammit, during this work-at-home period, she hasn’t been doing her job well enough.
Rosie is our Roomba vacuum.
— Today was my day off. Jessica had to go into work briefly. She called me to say she’d locked her keys in the car. She got mad when I wasn't more enthusiastic about having to go help her. Gee, sorry. At the time, I happened to be engrossed in the 1989 “Monday Night Football” thriller between the Bengals and Vikings on YouTube, and it was just getting good.
— I told Jessica I’m worried about another Great Depression. She said, “Well, we’re going to Disney in December anyway.”
— While walking the dog, I stopped to chat with a gentlemanly neighbor on the end of our street. I told him about my lawnmower wheel problem. He said he would be happy to let me borrow his new mower. And I thanked him. Because now I won’t have to go loot it from him.
— I caved and started watching “Tiger King” on Netflix. Big cats, eccentric breeders of exotic animals, murder-for-hire. It’s wild, and it’s perfect for the times because we’re all kinda caged animals right now. But this docu-series would be even better if somehow Jerry from “Cheer” was involved, because Jerry makes everything better.
— Our dog has been chewing on a marrow bone for awhile. The way he‘s chewing on it, part of his jowl is going into his mouth and scraping up against a bottom tooth. So his face is bleeding. So it appears we’ve reached the portion of the quarantine where the dog chews a hole in his own face.
— With the dojo closed, I helped L.J. do his virtual karate lessons. I hope to continue this. It will come in handy against the neighbor looters.
WE GOT THIS.