June 2, 2020

Quixotic Quarantine: One Man’s Musings


Fritz Jellinghaus

I went out to the car this afternoon, the first time in two months since being quarantined, hours spent searching the house and every coat pocket for my car keys which I finally found in the freezer underneath a package of frozen peas where I must have dropped them coming in from the market, pre-quarantine, in a hurry to do something that I can’t now  remember I used to do.

The peas might well have been contaminated by then, so I washed the package and every package adjacent to it, including one-by-one about thirty ice cubes. You can’t be too careful.

I didn’t remember the code to open the garage doors, so I had to go back into the house and look it up on the paper taped to the refrigerator door marked in big red letters, “Confidential Personal Codes.” There it was, 36-2-547. Phew. The pharmacy was holding a prescription I couldn’t remember ordering, and it had to be picked up by five today. It was now 4:45. 

When I got into the car and started the engine, easy enough, the windshield wipers were still on from the rainy night pre-pandemic when we came back from dinner with friends we now only see during longer and longer cocktail visits via Zoom. I didn’t have time to look up “Wipers” in the car manual which was somewhere in the trunk under molding clothes awaiting the re-opening of my dry cleaner. 

So off I went, ignoring passing drivers beeping and pointing fingers at their windshields, flashing high beams in friendly warnings of police ahead, which I would have acknowledged if I’d been able to find my own headlight whatchamacallit. There were 18 cars ahead of me at the pharmacy drive-in window, and I could have listened to music or news if I’d hit the right knob instead of the one that rolled down the two back windows. 

When I got to the front of the line—the 5 p.m. deadline extended, the sign said, until midnight—I couldn’t remember which knob opened the driver’s window so I started to get out of the car door, wearing a mask and gloves, when the woman inside, wearing a mask and gloves, screamed at me to stay in the car so she could hand me my prescription through the window.

I had to crawl over the front seat into the backseat to the only car window that was open. I took the prescription and contorted myself back into the driver’s seat, too embarrassed to look at her. 

“You know it’s not raining, don’t you?”

I didn’t know what I knew. The wipers, the entire car, was a complete mystery. I might as well have been piloting Apollo 252.

The prescription was a mystery, too, and I pulled the car to the side of the parking lot to open the package. I didn’t care that I forgot the sanitizer pads to wipe it clean. Inside was a small bottle: three tablets, 5 mg, Valium.

Too little too late.

Cream Cheese

I ate an entire block of cream cheese yesterday.

Not in a sandwich or on a bagel like a civilized quarantined person, but like an oink at the trough, as if it were the last bit of cream cheese on the planet. And not with a teaspoon or off the end of a knife, either, but with a device that could have been manufactured by John Deere for heavy lifting.

They say when the lockdown is over, there will be lots of pregnant women, alcoholics and fat people. I’m doing my share.


Staying Home.

I just stumbled across my calendar, blew off the dust, and saw that I have to go out next week to pick up meds.

I’ve been so used to a sedentary life—coddled by the comforts of home and blessed by Cynthia’s congenial company and our neighbors who have shopped for us, old and at-risk as we are—that the thought of cleaning up my act, shaving and combing my hair, all eight of them, makes me, frankly, cranky.

If the meds aren’t going to improve my attitude any time soon, I’ll pick them up some time next year.



  1. Patricia Spratt says

    Fritz, you make everything better. Glad the Lymeline readers get a piece of your brilliant mind.

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