Wheaton’s Way

A definite change of pace

It’s amazing the difference a week can make. On Wednesday, 11 March, I was dressed as a pirate wench for an event on the beach and my biggest concern was that I was going to keep tripping on my long skirt and fall flat on my face in front of everyone.

Fast forward to this week, and I am hunkered down at home, realising that our six cats get up to far more mischief than we ever knew, and wondering how long I could live on SpaghettiOs before losing my mind … or my teeth. Trying to write in my home office while having two ginger males constantly yowling and pawing at the glass doors is all kinds of fun. I can’t imagine what it must be like for parents who now have their children at home for a good while.

The shopping at the grocery stores has been insane, as we all know. I went one night to pick up some things, including a bottle of bleach, which we really needed – we were almost out at home. I felt guilty asking where I could find it on the shelves, like I should apologise for needing some bleach. I wanted to wear a T-shirt that said ‘Not hoarding. Dirty laundry,’ or to over-explain to each person that saw me that I didn’t have lots of bottles at home – this was it. I had whites that could be whiter and bathrooms that had to be disinfected. Please! Understand!

There were actually none at the supermarket, so I got some other essentials, like tampons.

Kirk Market’s lot looked like long-term parking at Owen Roberts Airport on a public holiday weekend. It occurred to me, as I drove to another location to hopefully find some bleach, that at least I wasn’t somewhere where people hoarded feminine hygiene products, leaving the shelves empty. What would a homemade version of those look like? Is there something on YouTube? And by the way, while we are on the subject, why are we still having to pay customs duty on those things? But I digress …

You might say, “Why would anyone hoard tampons?” but then why are people buying so much toilet paper? And bottled water? I actually bought some fruit for the first time in a long while. I had read that eating fruit and vegetables was one of the keys to building a good immune system – like this was suddenly a revelation. Forget about my blood pressure and cholesterol levels all these years; now that the coronavirus is around, it is time to consume a legume! There’s a country song in there somewhere.

I finally found the bottle of bleach at a home goods store. I thought bleach was bleach was bleach, no matter the brand, but now we are in times of checking that there are sufficient ingredients in hand sanitiser to warrant it as effective, I am in the habit of looking at all labels. Imagine my surprise when it said, “Sodium Hypochlorite: 6%; Other ingredients: 94%”. What other product could possibly get away with that? Imagine a pint of ice cream. Cream and strawberries: 6%; Other ingredients: 94%. Yummy.

It is extraordinary to me how I, a person with a university degree, cannot figure out the sequence of touching objects/hand-washing/not touching my face. I give my hands the ol’ 20-second scrub with soap, and then instantly touch a towel I had used before, or a surface, or a tap handle … and then I touch my nose. It’s like one of those drinking games where if you get it wrong, you have to drink a shot of some spirit, and the more you drink, the worse you become at it. But here I am, stone cold sober, and I am touching surfaces like it’s a competition, then pawing my nose, mouth and eyes, and finally heading to the soap. I think self-isolation is an excellent idea because otherwise trying to keep up with this kind of routine is exhausting.

One of the things I have really got to avoid at this time is becoming completely sedentary. It’s not like I was jogging to work each day, but at least I was moving somewhat. I had to climb stairs to the office, and once in a while, some walking around the building was required. Working from home could really turn someone like myself into a couch potato. Maybe this is the time to actually work on my fitness and try to lose some weight; after all, I’ve got all that fruit.

P.S. I in no way am underplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus situation, nor those who are being affected by it. I know how hard this is on people – I just believe with all the hard news out there, we could all do with a giggle. Laughter can truly be the best medicine, particularly at times like these.

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