Wheaton’s Way

Captain's Log, stardate: 09042020

So, here we are again – another week sheltering in place, which is nothing but a good thing when you look at how some other countries are handling this. I tell you, all you need to hear is Chris Cuomo from CNN describing what it was like to deal with COVID-19, and if you absolutely have to leave the house, you’ll want to wear head-to-toe saran wrap sprayed down with 95% alcohol and a full-face motorbike helmet.

Days of fever and lying in pools of sweat – like the worst hangover in the world times a million over two weeks. No thank you.

I sometimes feel like Bridget Jones, marking the number of pounds I’m up each week. Actually, it’s not quite that bad, but I’m certainly not losing any either. And, for some reason, my ‘muscles’ feel like they’re seizing every time I get up. As I rise from the couch, I resemble Jerry Stiller circa ‘The King of Queens’. If I’m lucky, I’m in the completely upright position by the time I reach the fridge.

Social media has been awash with quizzes, trivia, brain teasers and countless other distractions making the rounds. I’m beginning to think there are multiple answers to someone’s mother having four sons, where you have to deduce the name of the fourth one. I say this, because so many people announce that they got it wrong, incurring the subsequent penalty of having to post the third photo in their roll, or something similar. Maybe I’m getting my games mixed up.

Then there is the one where after answering a few questions, you can find out who your celebrity quarantine buddy will be. I got Chris Hemsworth, which was very exciting when he was first revealed. I started to transform my home into whatever version of Valhalla I could manage with A. L. Thompson’s and the like closed, only to see that others on Facebook had also been assigned him. How was that going to work? If he’s self-isolating with someone else, that’s 14 days right there. When do I get my turn? And what am I going to do with all those gilded eagles I bought? Come on Cayman Consignment, time to get ‘essential’ status.

There is no doubt that tensions are running high and good humour is in shorter supply than usual. I’ve a feeling that before all of this is over, a decent amount of online unfriending will be happening. Venting frustrations along with playing blame games and generally judging others are hot topics of conversation right now. Some are justified and others are … interesting. Finding out that someone you really thought you knew believes staunchly – and won’t hear anything to the contrary – that gargling boiling water and rubbing jam on their arms is the surefire cure for coronavirus is like discovering that your best friend is convinced the moon landing happened on a film set or Uncle Harold is a flat-earther. No judgment, but let’s just say that there’s nothing like a pandemic to bring out the best, worst and bonkers in people.

Lynne (my tolerant friend and housemate) has been slowly making her way through the random comestibles we have in the house. You know what I’m talking about – one-off boxes of frozen goods that you buy on a whim, or a huge selection of teas that you got as a gift last Christmas because you drank one cup of Earl Grey in front of an acquaintance.

On Tuesday, she started with the box of Amy’s Mushroom & Cheese Swirls. What emerged from the oven looked nothing like the picture on the front, and based on the way each swirl sucked the last vestige of moisture from our mouths, I would not recommend them in a time where keeping hydrated is key.

Determined to put that disappointment in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible, Lynne turned to Annie Chun’s Organic Potstickers, presented in a bag. Two plusses from the git-go were that they were already fully cooked and microwaveable. In no time at all, we were transported to the mysterious Orient in a completely non-travel, social-distancing kinda way. Those little parcels of goodness were delish – thumbs up from both of us.

After that odd repast, I went back to writing, but about 30 minutes later I had to get a drink of water. Lynne was standing by the kitchen counter with multiple cups of tea in front of her. “I’m trying three kinds at once,” she explained. “This one is English Rose; this is Russian Caravan; and this is Tippy Assam.”

Oh, help. She had broken into the Whittard box.

“I brewed them all exactly the same way,” she continued, “but do you see how they are different colours?” She seemed thrilled with the experiment.

As I hid the jam in the cupboard, I wondered if Hemsworth was still an option.

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