Coronavirus Chronicles: (Not) keeping up appearances


The coronavirus pandemic has impacted my appearance in countless ways, although the CDC failed to mention this side effect. The sickness began with my slippers, spread to my pajama pants and then quickly took over my hairbrush. I haven’t worn clothes off a hanger in at least a month now, much less proper shoes. Most of my outfits come from my closet floor these days, where I left them the night before.

I wonder, if I order a really nice pair of sweatpants, can I wear them to work when this blows over? Would anyone really care? I’ve grown used to wearing adult play clothes. Today we’re having an after-work hangout on Zoom and I’m preparing like it’s my senior prom. I showered, blow-dried my hair, put on earrings and a shirt with buttons. I even put on a couple of silver bangles. I thought about blush and eyeliner, but then I remembered that I never do that even when I’m not a shut-in.

Besides completely giving up on personal hygiene and style, my diet has taken a turn. I used to consider kale a staple. It’s been replaced by frozen Tyson Buffalo chicken tenders. Just yesterday I was FaceTiming with my sister, who incidentally doesn’t work so she feels free to call me when I’m in the middle of editing something. She went into a whispered confession about how she’s become addicted to Hershey bars with almonds since the pandemic started. I told her not to worry, and then reached down into the trash bag next to my “desk” in my junk room/home office space and pulled out my own Hershey wrappers. We are sisters, I told her.

My oldest son is with us and he’s a sous chef when he’s employed, so he’s been making all manner of soups. I feel really awesome when we have those, like I’m getting “back on track” and I’ll be able to “zip my jeans up” in no time. But then the next day, I’m back to chicken tenders and brownie batter. It’s a gastronomical rollercoaster ride.

The other fun part about working at home is reading all the Slack messages from my coworkers that say things like: “Going for a walk, be back in an hour.” “Getting outside for some fresh air. Be back soon.” “I’m leaving to walk the dog.” “Taking a quick bike ride.” I can feel my rear-end spreading in my makeshift office chair as I’m reading these. Are they serious, or just making this stuff up?

I haven’t taken a walk in two months. I have no time for this.

I see that a lot of people are taking selfies showing their roots, talking about how they need to “get to the hairdresser” for their dye jobs. Of course, they don’t call them “dye jobs.” We’re all like “Oh, wow, you still look great!” when inside we’re saying, “Holy crap! I never knew . . .” I gave up on hair dye years ago and embraced my gray hair. Well, not so much as an embrace as a toleration I guess. Either way, it’s all I’ve got and I figure I’m lucky to have it.

I wonder what everyone else misses most right now. I miss my work buddies and their highjinx. I miss packing the car up and going to Boston to see my daughter. I miss thinking about going to the Ritz to see the Edbury All-Stars on Thursday nights. I miss getting anything at all at 7a. I dearly miss my Wednesday Writers Group at Cleaveland House. I miss the little gatherings with my Greenwood Ave. neighbors and sneaking off to the Ocean View with my husband. Sigh.

Well, we’ve all got to make it. I have to believe that we’ll all be back at all our favorite places sometime in the not-too-distant future. That’s what I think and that’s what I hope. Before too long, I’ll be brushing my hair every day and wearing shoes with laces.