By Di Chapman
Perhaps we’ve been released from our sheltering in place by the time this column appears, so I decided it would be fun to look at some of the things we did when there was nothing to do. Universally, I heard from my family and friends that the time sheltering was used for long overdue cleaning, organizing, and calling our mothers. There was washing the car more than a few times, polishing the high school Captain of the Football Team trophy, and dusting the vinyl collection. There was trying on our jeans from 2017 and contorting our torsos to button them. We all had things we did when there was nothing to do.
Before I dive into my humorist take on life in lockdown, I want to give my sincere sympathy to all of you who experienced the tragedy of this virus in family, friends, acquaintances, heroes, coworkers, or so many others who were important to you. They were in your life one day, and gone another; or they will never be the same. They will not be forgotten, nor will your sadness.
So here, dear friends, are some of the things we did while there was nothing to do:
We dug out our Suzanne Somers ThighMaster, light weights, and step bench. Ladies, those ThighMasters were in the attic, and heaven knows our time of shelter in place reversed plenty of hard body sculpting at the gym. Our sagging thigh skin is right up there with the desperate need for nail visits and hair coloring. We’re all pack rats by nature, and the 1980s and 90s were memorable decades. We ladies waxed poetically about Jane Fonda’s cassette audio tapes. I worked my abs, thighs, and caboose to that lady’s voice commands, “work those buns, hot cross buns,” every day. We reminisced about video cassettes, like Buns of Steel. We pulled out the old boombox, grabbed our girlfriends, audio tapes, and CDs and hit the driveway with social distancing, yoga mats, and jiggle-control spandex leggings.
Gentlemen, you weren’t exempt from this. You rummaged through the garage and found those manly barbells, a weight lifting belt, and sweatband.
We carried on five different text conversations at once—sending pet pictures to our fellow animal lovers. Pets don’t need to be doing anything in particular because they’re always cute no matter what they’re doing. You have the golden retriever waiting to steal the cat’s treats as soon as they hit the dish. You have the sleeping kitty snoring audibly under the covers. There’s a kitten in the bathroom sink. There’s a cat who has overtaken the dog’s bed, and the big dog who has draped himself across his pet parents’ bed. Or the cat and dog who love sleeping on their backs with their paws in the air.
They are so totally fodder for photos and videos all. We’re crazy about our neighbor’s kitty Felix, for whom we’ve become Aunt Diane and Uncle Mark. I snapped pictures of this little guy constantly, sending them out to my sister and every friend I know who has pets. Look, we all know that pets only have so many facial expressions, but it doesn’t stop us from snapping them over and over.
We conversed all day long with said pets. I have always found pets to be great listeners. “They’re rewarding company,” a girlfriend once told me. Look, the nutcase that I am has always conversed with pets, and their little faces look at me with such interest. We lost our Miss Kitty last August, but my husband and I developed a close relationship with Felix. I call him our nephew, and we have the best conversations. “Felix, Sweetie, are you enjoying the sunshine today? What do you think about Uncle Mark and Aunt Diane going for a walk later, Felix?” Of course what he hears is “Felix, blah, blah, blah, Felix? Blah, blah, blah, Blah, Felix.” So he doesn’t speak human. Who cares?
We discovered that we have neighbors. Our trails were closed, but all of our beautiful neighborhood streets were alive with walkers, runners, families, strollers, and one, two, and three doggies on leashes. Our immediate neighborhood has always been an amazingly friendly place, but throughout years of walking, we’ve always had surrounding neighborhoods to ourselves. And then, there’s now. We’ve been waving and greeting each other with “Hellos” hollered across tree-lined streets, making way for social distance when we meet others on sidewalks with “Hellos” exchanged again. Hmmmm. We wondered. Where were all these great people?
We created new words. Some of us Poindexters on this planet really dig making up words, and I am among them. It gives me a real thrill (clearly, it doesn’t take much), along with smug self-congratulations. Consider two words that could be born out of the shelter-in-place lifestyle: Boredomoniousness. Hohum-osity. Did anyone else think of these? No. Chalk one up for me.
A friend of mine talked about her love of playing Scrabble with her sibling, and I mentioned to her that I enjoy creating new words. “I do, too!” she exclaimed. She is a writer herself. Another friend who writes told me the same thing. She plays Scrabble with her daughter. My new words just pop into my head. Perhaps I have something brilliant in common with Einstein. Thank heavens it’s not my hair.
I know that as we march forward into the “opening up” of America, I’ll continue with cleaning, hiking, writing, and texting. Felix and I will have our valuable conversations, I’ll circulate pictures of his facial expressions, and I’ll keep chipping away at the blubber on my thighs. And I’ll create a new word or two.
In the meantime, check these out on Google:
They weren’t there because they weren’t words? They are now.
Stay safe and healthy everyone.
Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at firstname.lastname@example.org