The Social Event of the Pandemic

I went to the grocery store today.

It was a big occasion. My first standalone grocery store trip since the beginning of the pandemic. Usually, I get groceries after work. Not today. Today, the refrigerator hit zero, and I was forced to make a special trip.

You know. A trip where I get up, and put on pants, and leave the house. On my day off. I haven’t done that in a while. In fact, I try never to sully my time off with grocery shopping.

Shopping on my way home from work means that I’m mostly presentable. It means I still have my shirt, shoes, and mask on, anyway.

Oh, yes. That’s right. Mask.

Mask, mask… where is my mask?

I do own masks, now. Nifty, washable, reusable ones. They don’t pull at my ears, and they don’t go to the landfill every time they get dirty. They also make me look like a ninja. (You know, if ninjas were American women wearing jeans and a red t-shirt that says “Don’t make me blog about you.”) They’re a lot more comfortable than the ones with the ear straps. They cover my hair, so that no one knows I look like shit, and they don’t slip around while I’m trying to breathe.

Could I find one?

Nope. Of course not. Maybe that packet of oatmeal at the back of the cupboard isn’t that old.

I found a mask sometime after I ate.

Sometime after I panicked over the idea of not having a mask.

I can’t go out without my mask. I definitely can’t go into someone’s place of business without it. Not if everybody who works there is wearing a mask to protect me. If other people are wearing theirs, the least I can do is reciprocate.

There’s the science end of things–and yes, I want to protect the people around me as much as I possibly can. I don’t want to make anybody sick. I don’t want anybody to die.

And then, there’s the small-town, home-training, basic courtesy thing. Refusing to wear a mask would be… Like refusing to return that “farmer wave.” Like not wiping your feet before you go into someone’s house. Like refusing to shake hands…. well, like refusing to shake hands was “before.” (I am still practicing my non-contact “kick” greeting.)

So I ate my…uhm… I guess we’ll call it “lunch.” I’m not quite as sure that I can call it “food.” But you know. Sacrifices must be made.

After lunch, I finally found my mask.

Grabbed my coat, grabbed my keys. Headed to the store to get that TV dinner of my dreams.

Realized about halfway to the store that I had forgotten that darned mask.

Yup. I turned around and went back to get it.

I had to. People really are working hard to keep me safe around here. I owe them that.

And besides… people are still talking about who left their car idling back when gas was being rationed during World War II. It’s worth it. Just ask Bob “Heating The Car Up During The Winter Is NOT Essential, No Matter How Much Scrap You Haul” Smith about that.

Then, I decided I deserved ice cream.

We all deserve ice cream.


  1. A.S. Akkalon


    Ah, the things that used to be no big deal, like going to the shop, that are now huge missions. Welcome to the new world! (And I’d love to see a pic of this mask.)

  2. Reply

    Not only do you deserve ice cream, you deserve hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, and one of those cute little wafers that they put in sundaes when I was a kid.

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