I’m So Ashamed. A Day in the Life of a Coronavirus Slob


I know you won’t believe this, but before the coronavirus hit, I didn’t own a vegetable brush. Not only did I not scrub my produce, but on more than one occasion, I ate the label on the apple. I believe that my large intestines sport a permanent tattoo that reads “Granny Smith.”

Now, I brusha, brusha, brusha to fight the new corona—it’s dandy when I’m neat!

And it’s not only produce that I wash thoroughly. In the past, I occasionally washed my hands with cold water, especially if I were in a gas station loo and wanted to make a quick exit—how foolish to want to escape deadly infection with cold water when we all know that hot water makes all the difference.

What’s more shameful, I often washed for only 18 seconds or less. Yes, I did. Hide the children.

Now I sing any of the songs that take 20 seconds to sing as I wash my hands in water hot enough to boil an egg. As it turns out, most songs take 20 seconds to sing, from You Are My Sunshine to Ave Maria. At least the way I sing—my voice breaks after about that length of time.

I have auditioned for many a part in many a show, always hearing the same word—“Next!”. But the coronavirus gives me a reason to sing out loud without facing criticism. So if my practicing coronavirus safety sounds suspiciously like an audition for Mamma Rose in Gypsy, I can always point out that “Curtain Up! Light the Lights” is a 20-second song, making it unpatriotic for anyone to tell me to shut up.

Which brings me to my entertainment devices, like keyboards, mobile phones and TV remote controls.

Truth be told, these items should be disinfected regularly with or without coronavirus as they are repositories for all kinds of germs and bacteria. And yet, except for a lick-and-a-promise with an occasional cloth—mainly when my fingers started to stick to the peanut butter clump on the letter G or I could no longer read the word “menu” on the remote—these daily devices were never cleaned.

No longer!

I scrub the veggies twice—once before I put them in the refrigerator…and once again before I eat them. I wash all my mail, although recently I only get letters soliciting donations for coronavirus-related charities. I even wash my telephone.

Oh, you may say, “Of course, you wash your telephone. That goes without saying.” Well, someone like you would say that, but as a real pre-coronavirus slob, I took pride in a nasty phone as a sign of productivity. That oily tuna fish feel and telltale smell meant that I had worked through lunch.

And don’t even get my started on grocery bags.

Before coronavirus, I would carry them from the store, put them on my counter, take out the items and bring them to the pantry or refrigerator. Don’t faint. Judge if you must but keep calm. Now, since coronavirus, forgetaboutit.

Today, I unpack my groceries outside my house. I bring a washed down box left to “age” for at least seven days before use. I place each supermarket item in the box, still wearing my mask and gloves and bring the box quickly upstairs, where I disinfect every package, wash every fruit, wipe down every jar, put the stuff away, take off my gloves, throw them in the washer and wash my hands…for 20 seconds in hot water, sometimes for 22 as my voice is getting stronger from all that singing. I fall backward in exhaustion on my bed, now covered with plastic like my Mom’s couch in Brooklyn in 1962.

Sometimes I slip up.

I found myself drinking soda from a can the other day, and my reaction was so violent that I would call a doctor if I dared to see one.

If I now loath putting my lips to a can of soda, what more loathing might my new fastidious habits engender?

Truthfully, I never liked shaking hands. I wear rings, and some burly person would invariably squeeze the sharp point of a prong into my delicate finger, and I had to smile broadly while in pain. Today, and for some time to come, I wager, no one will shake my hand regardless of their good feelings toward me or how much they want to sell me a car.

For this unintended consequence of the virus, I am grateful.

Another lasting aversion that I suspect I will harbor will be skiing, bank robbing, masquerade balls and Halloween—anything or anyone that occasions a mask is not for me. I’ve had enough of wearing light blue on my face. It’s not my color.

Neither is grey—that is the color of my hair right now.

To make it worse, I look a bit like a Shar-Pei at my Zoom or Uber Conference meetings. What genius decided that Botox and fillers was not an essential service?

Oh well, I have decided to turn off the computer video while online. I do this for everyone’s sake and wonder why others don’t as well.

Is it wrong to point out that we all are beginning to look a bit slobby with our outgrown hair, tee shirts, stubble for the guys and a hint of a mustache for the girls? Is it really elevating our socialization if we can see how lousy we all look during a chat session?

Of course, I could dress up for these meetings, put on makeup, do up my hair, even wear shoes. But who would know? If a person is neat during sequestration and no one sees them, are they really neat?

And so, it goes—ever more philosophical issues to ponder…ever more things to clean.

I long to be mischievous—dare I say deviant—just for a little spice. But somehow my prurient interest is not aroused by the new porno trends like “Hunky First Responders” or the guilty pleasure of buying three—not two—cans of anchovies.

I am a Puritanical (no coincidence that Purell has the same root as Cromwell’s religion) wreck. Oh well, I’m off to put my toothbrush in the dishwasher, after soaking it in 70% food alcohol, disinfecting the handle and dabbing it with a smidgen of Clorox and…