Sunday, March 29, 2020

"Diary of a Mad House Couple"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
At the risk of being shot on sight, which is a possibility for me even under normal conditions, I am confined to my house with my lovely wife, Sue, who is beginning to wonder what would be worse: getting sick or being quarantined with me.

If you think you are bored out of your skull while confined to your house, too, read this diary.

Monday: Day one of the official hunkering down begins when Sue, a teacher’s assistant, learns that school has been canceled indefinitely.

“My job has been canceled forever,” I tell her.

“You’re retired,” she points out.

“That’s why,” I respond.

“What do you want to do?” Sue asks.

I wiggle my eyebrows. She rolls her eyeballs.

“Is that all you can think about?” she huffs.

“Of course not,” I say. “Sometimes I think about hockey.”

“My God,” Sue sighs. “This is going to be hell.”

Tuesday: We turn on the television to see medical experts (none of whom is a politician) tell us to wash our hands.

I go into the bathroom and follow orders. I lose count of the number of times I have lathered up, which works me into a lather because the total must exceed the entire population of Luxembourg.

“We could have our own soap opera,” I tell Sue.

She shakes her head sadly.

I paraphrase the Stealers Wheel song: “You’re stuck in the house with me.”

Sue goes to bed. Tomorrow will be another long day.

Wednesday: Sue says she has to go to the store for essentials.

“Beer and wine?” I ask.

“Soap and sanitizer,” she replies.

“Buy some lotion, too,” I say. “The skin on my hands is starting to peel off.”

“The store may be out of it,” Sue says.

“I hope not,” I say. “At this rate, I’ll bleed to death.”

Sue takes wipes and gloves with her.

“Be careful,” I say. “And don’t breathe until you get back home.”

Thursday: The situation is, of course, very serious. Tens of thousands are infected and many have already died. But I am starting to get really annoyed at newscasters and politicians who urge me to follow strict guidelines “out of an abundance of caution.”

“As opposed to what?” I ask Sue. “A minimum of it?”

I also have noticed that everyone in the United States — except me — now has a medical degree. They’re all experts in what I should or shouldn’t do and do not hesitate to say that whatever I have been doing to stay safe is totally wrong.

I hope the real doctors find a vaccine soon.

Friday: It has been five days since Sue and I have been quarantined. While we have been happily married for almost 42 years, we are starting to get on each other’s nerves.

“Togetherness is nice,” she says, “but there is such a thing as too much of it.”

“Just wait until you’re retired,” I say.

“If this is what retirement will be like,” Sue tells me, “I may have to get a part-time job.”

“Get one in a liquor store,” I say. “We’re almost out of wine.”

Saturday: I go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. The pharmacist is wearing a mask.

“Are you robbing the place?” I ask her.

She smiles (I think) and says, “No. This is out of an abundance of caution.”

I stifle a scream, pay for the medicine and make a beeline out of there.

Sunday: I tell Sue that we can’t go to church.

“We haven’t gone in years,” she reminds me.

Instead, we give each other the sign of peace and share a kiss.

“We’re pretty lucky,” I say.

“Yes, we are,” Sue replies sweetly. “Now wash your hands.”

Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, March 15, 2020

"Little Shoppers Give Me Food for Thought"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
Whenever I go to the grocery store, I am the designated driver for my wife, Sue, who likes to say, after I get lost in the beer aisle, that I put the cart before the horse’s aft.

So I was grateful to get a food shopping demonstration from my granddaughters Chloe and Lilly, each of whom was recently a “customer in training.”

That’s what it said on the sign above their little carts, which are designed to let youngsters shop with their parents and grandparents and stock up on ice cream, cookies and other goodies that they would consume exclusively if only their parents and grandparents would let them.

In addition to Chloe, who is about to turn 7, and Lilly, who’s 3, the supermarket expedition featured me, Sue and our daughter Lauren, the girls’ mommy.

Everyone had a cart except yours truly because, I am sure, they were afraid I would stock up on beer, munchies and other goodies that I would consume exclusively if only my wife would let me.

One thing I noticed about the kiddie carts was that they each had four wheels that all went in the same direction. This is never the case with regular carts, which have wheels that go north, south, east and west all at the same time.

If cars were like that, you’d have a fender bender every day and your insurance rates would go up so much that the only mode of transportation you could afford would be, of course, a shopping cart.

As we navigated the store, an older gentleman came around the corner with his cart and said to Chloe, “If I had known you were going to be here, I’d ask you to do my shopping, too.”

Chloe, whose cart was already half-full with items that included cereal and oranges, which Lauren put in there instead of ice cream and cookies, smiled and replied, “I’m shopping with Mommy.”

I said to the guy, “She’s a customer in training.”

“She could teach me a thing or two,” he said, adding: “Where’s your cart?”

“I’m a bad driver,” I explained. “Training wouldn’t help.”

Lilly, meanwhile, started to load up her cart with sweets.

“She’s trying to sneak them in,” Lauren told me. Then she said to Lilly, “Put them back.”

Lilly grumbled and handed them to me so I could restock the shelf.

A nice lady passed me in the aisle and said, “You’re doing a good job. Maybe you could work here.”

“It would get me out of the house,” I said. “But I’d get fired for eating the profits.”

The store was filled with so many customers and their carts that it looked like rush hour in a construction zone. I was afraid tempers would flare so much that there would be a drive-by shouting.

But everyone was very nice and accommodating for the girls, who routinely cut off other shoppers in an effort to keep up with Lauren and Sue. I tried to play traffic cop, though even if I had a whistle, it wouldn’t have done any good.

Finally, we got to the checkout area, where the girls brought their carts so the contents could be rung up.

“You’re a good shopper,” a cashier named Ann told Chloe.

“Thank you,” Chloe said as she handed Ann several items for scanning.

“Are you going to pay for them?” Ann asked.

“No,” said Chloe. “Mommy is.”

Lilly went with Sue to another cashier, a young man named Eric, who said she did a good job.

“I know,” Lilly told him.

On the way out, Sue said to me, “The girls are better food shoppers than you are.”

“You’re right,” I admitted. “They even made sure I didn’t get lost in the beer aisle.”

Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, March 1, 2020

"An Old Goof Has a New Roof"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
For years, people have said I am all wet, even during droughts, so I wasn’t surprised that until recently, my house was all wet, too.

That’s because there was water, water everywhere and, since I ran out of beer, not a drop to drink.

Water was coming in through the ceiling, through a skylight and even through a kitchen cabinet. It was enough to make me go through the roof, which not only would have made the situation worse but might have given me a concussion, not that anyone could tell the difference.

So my wife, Sue, told me to call the insurance company.

“I hope we have an umbrella policy,” I said.

Sue ignored the remark and said, “I want to see if the roof is covered.”

“It’s not covered,” I replied. “That’s why we have a water problem.”

“You’re going to have a problem,” said Sue, who specifically mentioned how she could benefit from cashing in my life insurance policy.

Two days later, an adjuster named Doug came over to survey the damage.

“Do you think the value of the house would increase if I had an indoor swimming pool?” I asked.

“It might,” Doug said. “You could bring in some sand and beach chairs.”

“Would the insurance company pay for it?” I wondered.

“No,” said Doug, adding that he has seen far worse situations. “In one case, the entire first floor was under water,” he recalled. “Cars have driven through houses. We’ve covered the damage. There was even a lady who spilled bleach on her carpet. We replaced it.”

“If I want a new carpet,” I said, “should I spill bleach on it?”

“You can try,” said Doug, “but I won’t be your adjuster.”

He did, however, send us a check and suggested we call a general contractor.

Anthony Amini, owner of Performance Roofing and Siding of Long Island, New York, was the man for the job.

“He was a great war hero,” I told Anthony. “Killed at Gettysburg.”

“Who?” Anthony asked.

“General Contractor,” I said.

Anthony saluted and sized up the situation.

“Your roof is old,” he said. “It’s outdated and worn out.”

“Sounds like me,” I responded.

“My roof was the same,” said Anthony. “I had a leaky skylight, just like you. When it rained, I had to put a bucket underneath it.”

“My wife wanted me to put a new roof on my bucket list,” I said.

“So did mine,” Anthony told me. “She said, ‘You do two or three roofs a week. Do this one.’ I said, ‘OK, babe.’ Now we have a brand-new roof.”

“I bet you know a good roofer,” I said.

“I do,” said Anthony. “He’s a very nice guy and a very handsome guy. And he did a great job.”

It was the same kind of job he did on our roof. And, with a hardworking crew of eight guys, it was done in one day.

“You had some issues in the valleys,” Anthony told me.

“How about the mountains?” I asked.

“There, too,” he said, adding that he gave me new boots.

“I could have worn them when the ceiling leaked,” I said.

“You also got new gooseneck vents,” Anthony said. “One of the old ones had a hairline fracture.”

“I should have called a doctor,” I said.

“It wouldn’t have been covered under your medical plan,” said Anthony, who also put in new ice and water shields and replaced the skylight in the family room.

“Things are looking up,” I said, looking up at my beautiful new roof.

“It’s guaranteed for 20 years,” Anthony said, “but it should last for 30 or 40.”

“I probably won’t be around then,” I said. “But since the ceiling doesn’t leak anymore, I can kick the bucket now.”

Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima