01/29/2021 4 By BuddyCushman

I entered the Fred Meyer grocery store just after 8:15 this morning, holding a shopping list of weekly foods for my son Spenser – who was home asleep in a warm bed. In addition to the shopping list, I had in my long, hand-me-down coat left pocket a rag soaked in bleach, zipped in a plastic bag, and a bottle of Trader Joe hand sanitizer in my right coat pocket. My phone, left front jeans pocket, was off, not to be touched out in the populated social world, and the plastic debit card in the right front pocket, already free from the wallet.

I was wearing a face mask.

I took the bleached rag and thoroughly washed down the handles of a small shopping cart, and in the store did my best to stay away from shoppers (not a lot) and employees (tons), the store undergoing a big remodel. When I paid at a solo check-out I pushed the card into the reader, and having to tap in the four-digit pin, took the bottle of hand sanitizer and cleansed my hands before leaving – again before directing the key fob to pop open the trunk – and once more before turning the ignition and touching all kinds of driving stuff in the car.

When I arrived home and was let in an open door, I washed my hands a long time in soap and hot water, bleached lightly everything I’d bought with the same rag, everything not going in the freezer, save for the avocados (for Susan and me) and potatoes (Spenser and Marie). I bleached the kitchen counter, the fridge and freezer handles and inside refrigerator shelvings I’d touched, kitchen cabinets I’d opened, and every doorknob in and out of the kitchen and house front and back doors. For kicks I bleached the mailbox. Then I washed my hands with soap and hot water again.

I’m 72. I’ve had the first of the two vaccination shots. This routine just described is played out with every weekly trip to Fred Meyer’s, every other week to Trader Joe’s. Other than walks, I don’t go anywhere else.

Are these the times that try men’s (and women’s) souls? I suppose we each get to say. Somewhat, of course, for sure. For me, I was darn happy I got to wake up again today. Pretty fucking glad.

(BTW – Ceramic duck created by Irene Cushman, my mom, circa 1975.)