Avoiding The Virus

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Carmine Capobianco is a columnist at The Waterbury Observer and the author of the book, "Tall and Short Tales of My Hometown", based on growing up in Waterbury.  Carmine wrote this piece about being quarantined at home during the pandemic:

I was the first person sent home to do my work. I’m on chemotherapy so my white cells dropped. I also have diabetes. So, if I get the Coronavirus, I’m a goner. That’s it. Done.

So I went home and my bosses have been great. Probably because they don’t want it to kill me.

Now I don’t have to get out of bed really early and do the “Three S’s”, get dressed and drive a half hour to work. I had a routine. I pop some carbs into the toaster, a Keurig cup into the coffee maker and grab the finished products to consume on the car ride to work. But first I would drop my son off at the bus stop. On the ride in, I would listen to WATR and play “Guess the Birthdays” as I ate and drank. When I arrived at work, I would brush the billions of crumbs off my shirt and start the day hoping the butter substitute didn’t add another oily stain to a virgin shirt.

Now, I don’t have to do all that and I wear stain free shirts.

The alarm goes off and I press snooze a few times and, still tired (chemo freakin’ does a number on ya), I reluctantly get up after the third whoop of that dang phone alarm. The only reason I put on pants and a shirt is to stay warm. I go where my desktop is and bring up what is on my computer at work magically on my home 39” monitor. The work isn’t any more stimulating or fun on a much bigger screen. There is no one around to laugh at my stupid jokes. Sometimes I feel that, at work, I am a comedic genius.

Around 10 am, I do the carb and coffee thing. My gal leaves a “mopeen” (Italian for dish towel) near where I do my work so that I can tuck it into the neck hole of my shirt like an old-time movie comedian of the 20s or 30s. I always think of the overly redone scene where an old-time comedian would tuck the skirt of the tablecloth into his neck hole and, at a later point, he is forced to stand up pulling the tablecloth and all the food he has been trying to eat, including that beautifully cooked chicken, onto the floor. Heehee. Gets me every time.

I’m guessing I still get an hour lunch, so at 2 pm, I reheat leftovers and watch the full 42 minutes of Law & Order: SVU.
When work is over, I try to spend a little time indulging in one of my hobbies (such as writing articles like these) or doing something that may be important like paying bills.

Eventually, my 11 year-old son comes over. He lives part of the time across the yard with his mom and depending how long he can stay will determine our activities after he practices piano. It may be watching TV or YouTube, chatting or, if I feel up to it, going for a short walk.

After he leaves, the rest of the day is mine until dinner. I usually watch some Hulu or Netflix and then have dinner with my gal in front of the TV. We spend a few minutes pre-planning the TV agenda and try to come up with something that will be mutually agreeable. For some reason she claims that I win the choice most of the time. I tell her that’s not true as I am a sucker for a good romantic comedy and she will never agree to watch The Exorcist.

As 10:30 pm rolls around, I am done and she puts on “Grey’s Anatomy” and binges. I peacefully slumber close by and about 2 or 3 am, I get up, take 1000 pills and go to bed. I do this four more times until Friday arrives and my son comes over for the weekend. We do a few things together like walk or bake or wrestle or play bean bag toss and at some point he’ll go chat with his friends and they scream at each other as they race virtual cars around an arena. I’ve played with him a few times. I suck.

At certain points, his mom will call him back for a bit and they’ll walk to the pond with the neighbors, keeping a safe distance. I’ll squeeze in another SVU.

I love when we can “Zoom” and I can “see” my three daughters, my grandson and/or my sister and brother. I think I’ve spent more time with them during this virus thing even though it’s virtual.

At certain points, my gal will grocery shop. She has several masks and gloves in her car and she is very very careful. She buys what she can that is on the shelves and she always gets me what she refers to as a “prize”. My son gets one, too, on the weekend. Last week, for me, my favorite was hermit cookies.

For now, I can’t take anyone out to dinner. My gal can’t kiss her granddaughters. My son can’t have any wild 11 year-old sleepovers. I can’t hug my daughters or grandson.

This Corona thing sucks big time. Lots of people are on Facebook sending me videos and memes about the virus and they are getting tiresome. I get the same ones from several friends. The song parodies are no longer amusing and jokes like, “I’m not good enough to get Corona. I have Bud Light” or “If you’re going to get Corona, get it with a twist of Lyme disease” now fall flat.

This is serious. I watched Zombieland 2” a few weeks ago and the movie’s heroes were holed up in the abandoned White House. Yes. THAT White House. They were safe there from the zombies. Eventually, they got way too bored and decided to move on. They fought their zombies who were easily eradicated with a bullet to the head, a smashed skull or a decapitation. Eventually, a new breed of zombie evolved that was harder to kill.

I hope to God that Corona doesn’t mutate like that new breed of zombie.

Right now, we can beat it as there are many more survivors than casualties. But we seem to dwell on the casualties. And it breaks my heart that when someone dies, they die alone. In their hospital beds, they say goodbye via Skype and there are no family members to hold their hands. And no one can come to a memorial honoring their lives. And the survivors mourn even harder.

Please don’t concentrate on toilet paper hoarding and stuffing your freezer with forty pounds of ground beef. Look to and pray for the heroes that are working long shifts at the hospitals making some patients comfortable in their final days and getting other patients well enough to go home, the doctors and nurses that are there at cancer centers making sure their patients get the medication they need, the heroes that are feeding the homeless, the heroes that are sharing food and masks with the elderly and the heroes that are doing the best they can to help us all get through this crisis.

Although it feels a bit like it, this is not the Zombie Apocalypse. We can’t see the virus to take it out with a head shot.

Practice safe distancing. Wash your hands - especially before touching your face. And for the love of God and everyone around you, stay home. Be smart. Let’s wipe this thing out. We can do it. COVID-19 deserves a headshot.