“We’re getting low on toilet paper,” says my husband, the King of Quarantine Supplies. “Don’t want to get caught with our pants down on this one,” I reply. (Yes, it’s this kind of jaunty repartee that keeps the home fires burning.) “Put it on the list and we’ll get more next time we’re out,” I say. “We’re also very low on beer and wine,” he notes. This perks me up. “Well, time to shop!” I pronounce. I can do without toilet paper but certainly not wine.
Along with social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, teeth grinding and middle-of-the-night worrying, other habits of mine have changed since the pandemic began and my husband and I started quarantining at home. Somehow we have gone from maybe-a-few-times-a-week drinkers to almost-every-nighters with me partaking the most.
I’m amazed and slightly concerned and embarrassed by the constant supply of booze bottles in our recycle bin. One day my husband caught me attempting to cover them with other recyclables: “You know, even if we can’t see them, we both know those bottles are still there, right?” This logic is sound, yet millions of women wear SPANX and men wear untucked shirts, so let’s be honest: We all like to delude ourselves and others, especially about our bad habits and poochy parts. Sometimes we’re just not ready to face our personal reality, especially when reality in general seems rather overwhelming.
My husband and I aren’t alone in our bottle-producing bevy. According to media reports adults over 30 (You know, people with responsibilities who have also experienced several decades on the planet), are drinking more than ever before. Experts warn this isn’t good for our health. I imagine my liver with a ticked-off face and several of my limited quantity of well-functioning brain cells dying tortured, poisonous deaths. This knowledge stresses me out even more, and makes me want to drink. Definitely not a healthy reaction. I know I need to rein in things.
“Okay,” I declare to my husband over morning coffee, “I’m only going to have only one glass of wine a night.” He smiles at me in that neutral way that smart partners do. It’s a smile that says, “I’m on board but I’ve been down Morning Proclamation Road with you before and have a pretty good idea where this crazy car is going.”
The day goes on and my good intentions smack harshly into reality. No matter one’s life situation, things are more worrisome, boring, harder, stressful and/or scarier than before. Just following what’s going on in the world feels like a cast iron skillet to the head. By the end of the day, I’m ready to chill out.
I ration my one glass of wine while we’re cooking dinner, and it slips down my gullet so fast I wonder if I actually poured it. The wine bottle confirms I did. Dang! Nonetheless I do this move: splash just an inch in my glass. It doesn’t count, right? It’s barely there. Just a smidgen! Who would begrudge me this? My husband, totally neutral, Mr. Switzerland, does not say a word, bless his heart. Of course, this one-inching goes on for many inches. My denial-brain, however, sticks with its original story that I’ve had just one glass. The tattletale wine bottle says differently, but I jam it behind the orange juice to shut it up. But I just can’t stop imagining a disgusted look from my liver and more dying brain cells.
Oh, well. Tomorrow’s another day. I’ll try another tactic. I’ll take another route down Morning Proclamation Road in my crazy car. When I do so I should probably pick up some toilet paper. We’re still low on that.
By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Colorado freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.