One Sunday afternoon in March of 1976, I ran into Dave. I was in a beer store in Durham, North Carolina, standing at the cash register, pocketing the change from my purchase, when this guy stepped up to the counter beside me. He looked familiar.
“Are you Dave?” I said.
He gave me a wary look, like maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t.
“Dave from Ireland?”
His face lit up. “Yeah,” he said, “I’m Dave from Ireland. Hey!”
We’re setting the table for lunch at her house. I’ve brought a pot of ragu and tagliatelle, which we’ll eat with a generous dusting of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. If I were on death row, this would be my last supper request.
Her husband, I gather, is in a training, thinning, low-carb phase just now. She sets down a medium-size salad bowl where his pasta should be. It’s not a salad. He gets cannellini beans and tuna, with chopped celery, parsley and scallions, a couple drops of vinegar, and olive oil, a lot of it.
“Your Bruce Jenner shirt,” my wife says, “is on the ironing board downstairs.”
It’s a Thursday morning in Coronavirus time. We’re having coffee in the kitchen. Later today I’ll go to the grocery store, an outing that used to occur daily. Now I go once a week, if that. For these trips, along with gloves and mask, I wear clothing I don’t care about, shirt and pants that might accidentally rub up against virus and will need to be washed right away. I’ll have to strip to my shorts in the garage before my wife lets me back in the house.
“Look at those fatties,” I say, pointing to the goldfinches perched outside the kitchen window. “They’ve emptied the feeder again.”
Three times in the last week I’ve seen “welp” in print. Like this: “Welp, now O.J. Simpson thinks Carole Baskin from ‘Tiger King’ killed her husband.”
And this: “Welp, I can die happy now. Chocolate cake stuffed inside this pup-cone!”
This morning, I was scrolling through articles on Flipboard and saw this lead from a publication called Well and Good, an article by an anal surgeon: “Welp, I hate to break it to you but [wiping] isn’t the best way to keep your butt clean.”
I look over my shoulder at the clock on the oven, 11:19 a.m. Not yet, I think. A few more minutes.
These are counting days. We count the deer we see on our morning walks, the orphan gloves dropped and lying at the edge of the sidewalk; the coyotes and vultures, one each yesterday. We count the days we’ve been sheltering in place, peruse the daily Covid-19 statistics in Michigan, in the US, and around the world. We open the fridge and count eggs.Continue reading “If This Is Shelter”→
“So sorry to hear of your loss,” I wrote. “We’ll be thinking of you guys.”
It was an email to friends ten years our senior, a couple who had recently lost a father 94 years old. Not to Coronavirus but to plain old old age. It was an ordinary passing–although no passing is ever really ordinary. I re-read the sentence, stuck on “you guys,” thought about it, then rewrote. “I understand you’ve had a death in the family. So very sorry.”
We’re in the kitchen. She’s applying a lotion that’s supposed to help with my lower back pain. I’m a drug man, myself. Every six hours I’ve been hitting the Ibuprofen and extra-strength Tylenol. “Better living through chemicals,” my dentist friend Dennis says. Better living through stretching my MD friend Rob says. He gets what I have, taut hip flexors. I’ve seen him walk kind of crooked and bent over. Rounds at the hospital, he said, could be murder. All that standing around. He stretches. In a pinch, he’ll take the drugs. Continue reading “The Big This”→
Between our house and the house next door, running from the street to the back of the lot, this ditch conveys water to a large storm drain. Surface water drains into this ditch. Our sump water is pumped into this ditch. The water from the long ditch across the street, a major tributary, flows under the road through 12-inch pipe and into our ditch.
Six feet across, four feet deep, in a hard rain this ditch moves a lot of water. Unfortunately, along a third of its length, six tall, prolific cottonwood trees loom over it. They drop loads of crap–pods and clots of cotton spring and summer, a continuous blizzard of leaves in the fall, sticks year around–a plague of tree matter that winds up in the ditch and is dragged by the flow of water in a heavy downpour all the way back to the storm drain, which clogs, backs up, and forms a lake that can only be unclogged by hand. Of course, our backed-up ditch affects the one across the street. We’re all in this together. Continue reading “The Flood Will Come”→
Tizi says, Hey why don’t you Google the local stores and find out if they have special hours for senior citizens?
And I think, But why would I do that?
And then I remember.
I haven’t developed the habit of thinking of myself as a senior citizen. Then it hits you, like a pie in the face. A week ago, talking to my son in LA, I described our distancing regime during the pandemic. Good, he said. Just that morning it had occurred to him that we were in greater danger. He’d remembered: we’re old. Continue reading “What Comes Next”→
I was first in line at the Lahser and Maple Kroger yesterday morning, a Sunday. The doors would open at 7:00. I’d been waiting in my car for fifteen minutes, cars pulling into the lot after me, first one, then two or three at a time, killing headlights, engines. I was there more out of curiosity than immediate need. The day before I’d been to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Menards at 7:00 a.m., checking on what they were out of. I bought a can of Lysol. There were three left on the shelf. A few days before that, in a late afternoon stop at Kroger, I saw one half gallon of 2 percent milk on the shelf. One. Continue reading “TP Me”→