I woke up at seven today, even when I didn’t have to, because my fourteen year old chihuahua has a collapsed trachea and some sort of dog dementia. His name is Boogie and he starts each new day by honking over and over like a laryngitic donkey and pacing the floor, rhythmically clicking his toenails on the hardwood, until someone gets up to let him out. Then he goes down the stairs into the yard, forgets where he is, and stares at the grass for ten minutes. He eventually remembers what he went out to do and eats some grass or makes his pee pees in the yard, but for some reason, he refuses to walk up any stairs. If you’re not waiting for him, he will stand down there and bark until someone comes to get him and carry him up like a hairy black vulture donkey. A baby hairy black vulture donkey, because he is very small. I’m overly accommodating to the neighbors so when it’s me letting him out, like today, I usually just wait for him to finish doing his thing so I can quietly carry him up and by then I’m awake.
We’d run out of some staple items, most notably ketchup, and I’m the designated grocery getter during this lockdown, so I went to Natural Grocer’s. I wanted to get some tea that they sell there, as well as ketchup, broccoli, cucumbers, frozen corn, cauliflower, pickles and virus killer tincture. The tea is called chunky watermelon. I once told one of my sixth graders (I’m a teacher, I don’t just randomly have more than one sixth grader to talk to) this name and he feigned puking into his mouth. The name doesn’t put me off, it tastes like watermelon jolly ranchers. It’s made with dried apples, beets, melon, and naturalflavorsthatdefinitelyarentbadforyou. And it’s pink! And when you put creamer in it, it looks like Strawberry Quick. One time time my sister chugged a bunch of Strawberry Quick and then puked it up later in a parking lot. Not because it’s gross, but because my mom didn’t give us sugar and so we would never waste it when a stranger or my Aunt Mary gave it to us. She had to finish it fast because we had to go to the nursing home to see my great Granny. You can’t really chug dairy like that. All that pink Quick, wasted after all. But the watermelon chunky tea is great if you get the chance to pick some up.
So the trip was for the tea and the ketchup mostly. Fresh vegetables are good too, I guess. I make really good frozen french fries by spritzing them with olive oil and then dusting them with nutritional yeast and garlic powder, but the amount of ketchup that we had at home wouldn’t fill a thimble. I don’t actually even really like ketchup that much. I use it sparingly, like a summer top sheet. My partner uses it like Nana’s thirty-ply North Dakota winter quilt. Sometimes she just keeps the bottle next to her plate and applies a long stripe of ketchup down the length of each fry, individually, in order to ensure maximum coverage. So it seemed a necessity to get out there and get some, or the fry experience would be totally shot. Natural Grocer’s had only two kinds left on the shelf, by the time I got there. One was some sort of fodmap ketchup. I don’t have anything against fodmappers, but I don’t want to eat their ketchup. The other was $5.39. Seriously. It must have been made with albino tomatoes picked by virgins on the full blood wolf moon off the peak of Kilimanjaro being paid a living wage to do so. It was also “unsweetened” and “spicy.” I mean, sweet and spicy go together like Donny and Marie, sure they argue a little, but it makes a great show. I do have to say, I’m curious about how it will be, eating $5.39 ketchup. I’m think I’ll feel like Marie Antoinette.
Times are strange right now. Here we all are, hunkering in, thinking about old throw up stories, envisioning the bastard that has twenty $1.79 ketchups in his pantry, googling “dry cough,” “chest pains,” and “do I have corona virus?” every twenty minutes. People used to deal with epidemics all the time. Once we all started gathering together in ever growing bunches, we were sitting ducks. The ancient Greeks, the ancient Romans, medieval Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East all suffered major epidemics that wiped out huge percents of their populations every couple hundred years. I teach my students about how the rich Romans would ride away to their country homes to escape the plague, while the peasants died by the hundreds. I doubt their summer homes stayed illness free, but it’s still worth noting that they tried. King Henry VIII knew how to practice social distancing and quarantine, he barricaded himself into his room and refused to see anyone except the servants who fed him, dressed him, combed his hair, and wiped his butt, but no ambassadors were allowed until after the illness had passed.
Epidemics still arise, but we, as a human unit, usually have the ability to disassociate ourselves from them when they are happening to someone who is not us. We’ve grown so much in our heads over the last hundred years that we feel like the past is the past and those types of things don’t really happen anymore. I felt surprised to find that the laws of nature still apply, that my body isn’t that much different than those of the ancient Romans. My system is just as vulnerable, though I have better tools to bring to battle, namely better healthcare and facebook videos that show me how to properly wash my hands. Did you know that a fecal smear so small you can’t even see it can contain a million virus particles? Another thing I learned on facebook. I’m glad I’m not Henry VIII’s butt wiper.
For me, I’m going to start writing things down. Things that happened today, things that happened in the past… Someday Boogie is going to be gone and I’m not going to see the sunrise over my back fence because I’ll still be sleeping. But at least I’ll have a record of it here.
I’ll finish with a picture of our vulture baby with his weenis edited out for privacy.