Notes from a self-quarantine …

TRAVERSE CITY — There’s a scene from the 1989 Batman movie with Michael Keaton where the Joker has poisoned the nation’s makeup supply and TV news anchors suddenly look all pale, disheveled and baggy-eyed, in other words ordinary. That’s where we’re at today in Lockdown Nation. I don’t wear makeup, but I’m right there with the hair thing. I look like Teen Wolf, the middle-age version.

I’d hate to be a barber or hairdresser when this thing is over.

I have time now to contemplate such things, so after much deliberation, I have decided that Michael Keaton was the worst Batman ever. The best, in order, Adam West, Christian Bale and … nope, I was wrong. There are only two. Why are Batman movies so bad?

Oh, like you’re doing anything more productive in your quarantine. C’mon. I know someone who is organizing her sheet closet.

There are upsides to self-quarantining. The lovely yet formidable Marcia and I have been empty nesters for several years now, but now, suddenly, we have four college students living with us — two ours (Annie and Henry) and two of their friends. It’s wonderful to have a full house again. It really is. But, whoa, the grocery bills! Plus, I think I can hear my wifi router from the other room begging for mercy. We have, at last count, seven cell phones, one iPad, seven laptops, and two TVs all sucking bandwidth at the same time. If you need to get hold of me, the fastest way is probably by sending me a letter.

For you Gen Zers: A letter is a piece of paper that you write on — with a pen — then put in an envelope and “mail” to someone via that aluminum or plastic box on the post in front of your house. (You always wondered what that was for, didn’t you.) That thing is called a “mailbox.” And the person who comes by in a truck every day to check it is called a “mail person.” What they do is take the letter and physically deliver it to the address you’ve written on the envelope. It’s like texting, except slower.

With six people in the house, the main topic of conversation is about who finished what food product, as in, “Dammit, who put the yogurt container back in the fridge with one spoonful left in it?” or about who flushed while someone else was taking a shower.

We should all be helping local restaurants survive this thing by getting takeout. That said, I’ve never had a take-home restaurant meal that was nearly as good as it is on-site. I miss restaurants more than anything.

Working from home isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. Pros: Pants are optional for Zoom meetings, and the refrigerator (of course.) Cons: You end up working more because you’re not commuting, and when you goof off you somehow feel guiltier than when you goof off in the office.

I’ve heard dozens of people explain to me the reason they’re hoarding toilet paper, and it still makes no sense. If I’m hoarding anything, it’s contact lens solution. There’s a lot stronger survivalist mentality running through this country than I’m comfortable admitting.

I asked a grocery store manager why so many food shelves are empty, assuming he’d say hoarders. But it’s really about the supply chain, he said. “We’re ordering the same amount of food but only getting 10-20 percent of it.” So, now you know.

I notice on Netflix that pandemic movies are suddenly popular. Seriously? That’s the last thing I want to see right now. What’s with you people?

If you need a laugh, check out American singer Chris Mann’s video on self-quarantining, to the tune of Adele’s hit “Hello.”

Yes, this is going to be a bad week. Take care of each other. And of yourself. We’ll get through this.

“We become wiser by adversity; prosperity destroys our appreciation of the right.”– Seneca

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com.


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