So, I was social distance walking (SDWing) with my friend Tina in our subdivision the other day. We’d just reached the halfway mark when a perky SUV slowed down beside us. I quickly recognized it was my extremely friendly neighbor, the same one who brings me fresh rhubarb every summer, the same one who shoots down mistletoe for me so I can use it as decoration for New Year’s Eve.
So, I was all smiles when he pulled up.
“Hey, Tara, you getting ready to sign up for Social Security?”
Confused, I social distance leaned in (SDLI).
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Are you getting ready to sign up for Social Security?”
Then he rubbed his hair with his hand.
And then, aghast, I realized he was joking. Joking about my head full of grey hair.
I am a Coco Chanel girl. Have been since I was 20, have always been rather proud of it, have never thought much about switching. It’s the kind of perfume that makes me feel both fancy and hopeful that people will say, “What are you wearing? It really suits you.”
Because to suit something Coco Chanel is responsible for? I have no problem with that, letmetellya.
This morning, I noticed my old Gourmet magazines on the bookshelf and nearly burst into tears (turns out fall and pandemics make me overly nostalgic). Then I thought of all the magazines that have influenced my life and actually did tear up.
This afternoon, the dogs and I were in the driveway circling around the biggest box that has arrived at our house in a decade.
It is one of those packages that, even if light, you couldn’t possibly pick up because no one has that kind of arm span. It is almost perfectly square and the white pallet straps have bitten into the cardboard in a few areas. When one of the sweet neighbor boys rode past on his bike, he couldn’t help but ask, “What’s inside that thing anyways?”
The UPS man had delivered it rather stealthily and, frankly, I didn’t blame him. I can imagine with deliveries of this sort, there are plenty of requests from recipients for help, requests that start with “Do you think you could just …” and include the words “dolly” and “stairs.”
So, Tilly, Fitz and I were on our own circling this behemoth and Fitz, at least, was doubtful we were ever getting it inside.
Over the past week, I’ve been staring at a flower pot on my deck. Not constantly, mind you, as that would be worrisome, but, if I’m honest, I’m out there looking pretty regularly. And each time I do, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
The pot is filled with petunias, snap dragons, a dusty miller and, most importantly, a chrysanthemum I planted last fall that made it through the winter. For the past three months, that mum has been growing steadily and last week, well, last week, it started to bloom. Yesterday, it had one flower the exact color of Thanksgiving. Today, there are three.
To me, it is surefire evidence that fall is here, and I’ve never been happier to usher in a new season. Not just because I like fall in general, but because it means we’ve made it through another big block of pandemic time.
When the pandemic is over, I’m just going to warn you: I’m going to be dressed up pretty fancy. And not just, like, the first day after. At the rate I’m going, I should have a solid six months’ worth of jazzy outfits ready to head out on the town whether I’m in them or not.
Why so? For some reason, I’ve started shopping for clothes.
To be clear, I have absolutely nowhere to go, unless you consider heading down to the basement an outing. But I’m shopping nonetheless. And, considering I’m a party of one, I’m having an incredible time.
Yesterday, I assigned myself the job of washing the floors by hand. It’s something I’ve done about twice in my life, always telling myself I should do it, but then opting instead for my handy-dandy Swiffer. But yesterday, I decided, no, I was going to do things right, so poured Murphy’s Oil Soap into a bucket, strapped on some knee pads and got to work. Soon, my job had graduated to wiping down floor boards and, eventually, it ended only because I ran out of Murphy’s Oil Soap.
I haven’t been social distancing for so long that I think this story is overly interesting, except that it does reflect a pattern in my life that has only surfaced since we’ve found ourselves in a global pandemic.
Being at home all the time has made me want to take extra-special care of our house and just about everything in it.
“I eat so much mayonnaise they were going to send me to the Mayo Clinic.” — Tom Robbins
Goal: To conduct a highly scientific taste test involving three different brands of mayonnaise, including Hellmann’s, Duke’s and Kewpie. Miracle Whip will not be considered since, by its own admission, Miracle Whip is a mayo combined with “tangy dressing.” Also, Miracle Whip is terrible.
Well, let’s just be frank (but not with beans). I owe you an apology, and that is the reason why I’m writing. I have taken you badly for granted. I’m not proud of it and, simply, I have no excuse.
Except, I guess I actually do have a few. Let me tell you things from my perspective.
In the condiment world, I considered you the Taylor Swift of sauces: always there whether we wanted you to be or not, sweet but not very deep, OK for a cookout, but not for a dinner party. I even resented the small amount of work you required. When you came in a glass bottle, your reluctance annoyed me, and it didn’t take me long before I was stabbing a knife in there insisting you come out. Now that you come in plastic, you still require shaking and, I’ll be honest, I’m a little afraid of your watery bit ruining my bun.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the honor of having this column picked up by the newspaper here in Somerset.
While this has been a thrill in and of itself, it’s been enhanced by the people — friends, neighbors, acquaintances, people whom I’ve never met but who work with my husband — who have texted or stopped to tell me they’ve enjoyed reading about my tiny escapades.
It’s reminded me of what a great joy it is to be published in a place where I live. And with everyone reading the same thing, it’s also reminded me of how much a local newspaper ties a community together.