For months, I worried about the possibility of Bernie Sanders becoming president, G-d forbid! Despite knowing that it was unlikely to happen, I had nightmares about it. But things in my life have come full circle and now my worry is less about socialism and more about antisocialism.
As a people-loving, outgoing, gregarious, and sociable individual, I have long been critical of those I perceived to be antisocial. Those days are gone, currently a distant memory. Due to worry about contracting the coronavirus, I have decided to act maturely and wisely. And to that end, I have socially distanced myself from everyone.
Because I watched many televised interviews of doctors from the CDC, as well as the interviews of many other experts in the field of communicable diseases, all of whom recommend as little socialization as possible, I am currently remaining at home and alone. For accuracy, I should explain that I am not simply staying home but that I have taken it a step further. I have more or less barricaded myself behind locked doors. As a septuagenarian who has asthma, albeit mild asthma, I have concluded that this is the prudent thing to do. Should I be one of those unfortunate enough to contract the virus, the possibility exists that, for me, it could be serious and possibly fatal. And while I look forward to being reunited with my late husband, Arnie, a k a Hubby, I am content to wait a while longer for our reunion. The problem, however, is that while, hopefully, I won’t die from the virus, I may die of boredom.
Nobody is allowed to come into my home. If my daughters or any of my grandchildren, who are being referred to as carriers due to their enormous amount of socialization, wish to deliver food to me, I have asked them to please leave it outside by the front door. And last week, I amazed myself when I did the unthinkable and refused to play in my regular mah-jongg game. Taking it a step further, I then sent texts to all of my mah-jongg and canasta-playing buddies and informed them that, for the foreseeable future, I will not be playing in any games. There is a good chance that I will have withdrawal.
Shabbos was day five of my self-imposed retreat from society, and, thanks to being home for so many days, I’ve already gained three pounds! Friday, which was day four, I had a brainstorm. So long as I would be remaining at home, I would do some cooking to occupy my time. But instead of asking my daughters or any of their children to shop for the ingredients I would need, I would do something else. Desperate to get out of the house, I would go to the supermarket myself. Of course, I would do the smart thing and avoid a crowd of people by getting there at 7 a.m., when nobody else would be there. My plan was a simple one. I could shop to my heart’s content and be out of the place in 30 minutes. What I didn’t count on was that everyone else in town had the same idea.
When I saw how full the parking lot was I knew that the sensible thing would be to drive away. But these are desperate times, and desperate people do desperate things. So out of a desperate desire to live like a normal person for the first time in days, I searched, found a parking spot, and entered the store. Once inside, it took less than a minute for me to realize that I had made a poor decision. Over the past several days of watching television I had seen people wearing masks, but seeing something on television is not the same as seeing it in person — firsthand, so to speak. The sight of a store employee wearing one set my teeth on edge. Was the man I saw wearing a mask because he was sick or was he wearing it because he was afraid he would get sick? I considered asking him, but common sense kicked in and I thought the better of it.
The supermarket was nothing short of a madhouse. It was just as crowded as it is in the days before Pesach and right before Rosh Hashanah. I gave up! Holding on to my still-empty wagon, I headed for the exit. It was the first time I have ever left that place without spending any money! Still pushing the wagon, I left the store, walked to my car, and got behind the wheel. I drove back to my newfound sanctuary — my house — and as soon as I got inside, I got into a hot shower and soaped myself silly. I was unsure if doing that would make me any safer, but it was the wise thing to do because it did a lot for my mental well-being, which, in these frightening times, is important.
By the time all of this ends and I feel free to go out and be among people again, I may have to shop for a new wardrobe. A few weeks or months of this and I may be a size larger than I am today. This is no laughing matter, but that’s the way it is!
My best wishes to all, and may we all stay safe!
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-295-4435.