Can Humor Calm Our Nerves?

This is a winner of ChicagoNow’s Best Posts for March 2020.  Thank you for reading and sharing.


I came home from shopping at Aldi a couple days ago.  Actual driving and shopping took about 40 minutes. Not too bad, considering.

I spent another hour in a tizzy, washing and sanitizing the groceries once I arrived home. This was the latest trick I learned from a video on WGN, our local news station. A Minnesota doctor gave a thorough procedure of washing store-bought items to avoid any chance of the items carrying the coronavirus.

CRAZY TIMES = CRAZY ME

Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Where am I?

I’m on Earth.  Listening, hoping, fearing, and praying like many others.

The washing and sanitizing is done.  Food put away.  Counters cleaned once more.  My hands feel tight from all the soap and water, so I grab my hand cream I keep in a kitchen drawer and reapply it for maybe the fourth time this morning.

Back upstairs, to the loft where our home office is located.  I work remotely all day, exchanging heartfelt messages with co-workers and laughing over silly things while we try to keep things lively and not fret over the daily news blasts.

Finally, it’s 5:00 and I log off from the computer.  It’s Friday, yet somehow it seems different.  No plans to go anywhere.  Just stay at home.  My plans include eating and watching television.  Many Fridays I can’t wait to do just that.  But now, everyone is looking for an outlet.

WASH YOUR HANDS!

My husband arrives home – with more groceries!  Grocery shopping is his newest hobby.  I think he prefers the European way of shopping – only picking up several things every few days.  Except he’s forgotten the warnings I told him early this morning about picking up more germs at the grocery store.

Look, I brought you some red wine,” he says so nicely, holding a bottle of cabernet sauvignon.

I look at him like he’s nuts.  I raise my voice, “I told you not to go shopping.  Stop touching that.  It’s contaminated!”  I run into the bedroom, shutting the door with meaning.  I’m so annoyed that he’s bringing germs into the house. And who’s going to clean all that food?  Me, that’s who.

Where’s my phone?  I need my Calm app to meditate and decompress.  The anxiety and worry plus being shut within the house for two weeks now is getting to me.  I need to relax and not become upset over groceries of all things… because this is just the beginning.  And we all need to get along.

COPING

The next morning my husband convinces me to go with him just for a drive.  He knows me well.  “You don’t even have to get out of the car,” he promised.

The first stop is for an oil change.  He drives to the dealer, and I follow in my own car.  This way he can leave his car, while we run errands in my Chevy.

I gave him the stink eye when he jumped into my passenger seat.  “Since when is an oil change an essential errand? Couldn’t this wait?” I demanded.

“They diagnosed the funny sound I kept hearing and determined the power steering pump needed replacing.”

Okay, that’s important.  I concede that it’s a good thing we dropped the car off.

“Now I just need to run into Pete’s and get milk and potatoes for my mom and dad.  You can wait in the car,” he suggested.

I watch him run into Pete’s, dodging the rain puddles on this gloomy day.  The skies are an ugly grey. Why can’t we at least have sunshine here in Illinois?  It’s the end of March, for goodness’ sake.  I grab my phone and scroll through for social media updates and news briefings.  Nope, I’m tired of everything I’m seeing.

I look out the window and watch a store employee picking up trash in the parking lot.  He uses a long grabber stick to snatch the junk people leave lying on the ground.  He tosses everything into an empty grocery cart.  Everything is soggy, making it grosser than usual. The worker walks next to my car.

Should he be that close to my vehicle? Oh my goodness, Heidi, get a handle on yourself!

I peer out my rain-soaked window and see inside his cart.  Plastic grocery bags, soda containers, burger boxes.  And so many latex gloves.  All in the latest colors.

Across from me is a couple loading purchases into the trunk of their car.  The husband wears blue gloves.  Except, his wife is bare handed.  What is wrong with people?  Following disparate protocols is like… well, like an Independent marrying a Republican.  They just cancel each other out.  What’s the use in even trying?

I think back to the wine my spouse brought home and how I freaked out that he touched it.  I’m losing my mind.

MOVING ON

My husband returns with the groceries for his folks and we move on.  He runs the food into their house, while I sit in the car and play a brief meditation on my Calm app.  Breathe. Relax.  Focus on yourself.  The here and now.  I cannot control outside events.  Breathe. Relax.

My husband finally exits his parents’ home and hops back into the car.  “They should be done soon with my Honda. We can go back to the dealership and wait for it.  Do you mind running by the Dunkin’ Donuts so I can bring the guys some doughnuts?”  He smiles at me.  Sometimes I forget how handsome he is when I’m aggravated.

It’s back to the dealership, where he asks me to wait for him just in case the car’s not quite ready.  I don’t mind waiting inside my car.  At least I have the radio, and I don’t have to walk outside in the cold rain.  I’m immersed in my phone again, when he knocks at my window.  I unlock the door and he gets back in.

“It’s nearly ready,” he said.  “Boy, everyone’s paranoid and there are signs all over the place telling people to keep six feet back.  I had to sign the paperwork for my car, and I reached way over to the cashier window to sign for it but had to keep my feet on the yellow tape on the floor.  I tell ya, I felt like John Belushi in The Blues Brothers movie when he picked up his belongings at Joliet prison.”

I couldn’t help it.  I grinned, looking out my driver’s side window so he wouldn’t see that I was warming up to him.

“Not only that,” he went on, eyes twinkling. “I was telling the guy that I had to cancel my hair appointment.  I said, ‘my hair’s so long, I’m starting to look like Farrah Fawcett!’

“And you know what the kid said back to me?”

“What?” I asked.

“’Who’s Farrah Fawcett?’”

I burst into laughter.

And that, my friends, is how I’ll be managing these stressful days.


Thank you for reading – PIZZA FOR BREAKFAST

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