Are you ready for the Coronavirus? This month, Sam shows us how she is preparing for the possible Coronavirus pandemic. Seriously, Sam? is a column that looks at the lighter side of suburban life.
In early January, my husband turned to me as we were getting ready for bed and said, in his gravest and most serious voice: “Don’t panic, but tomorrow I think you should go to the store and stock up on food. Fill the extra freezer in the garage. Just in case…” It was slightly hard for me to take him seriously with the floss hanging between his teeth; still, I knew that he knew that I am the first to panic in most situations, so there was probably something serious going on for him to risk riling me up right before bed.
“In case of what?” I asked, bracing myself while continuing to hang my head over the sink, pump saline rinse into my left nostril and snort it out of my right (I have bad sinuses.)
“Just this thing in China. I don’t think we will actually need it,” he reassured me, “but if everyone freaks out and starts cleaning out the supermarkets, at least we will be prepared.”
Given the lines at Costco and run on Clorox wipes at Target this weekend, you might think my husband is the second coming of Nostradamus. He’s not. What he is, is a finance dude who is keenly attuned to the global economy and, therefore, sometimes has early insights into things like panicked reactions to new global illnesses. It’s his job. Still, in the dynamics of our family, I am usually the one freaking out about things like contagion and pandemics, and he is usually the one telling me to calm down. So, I can’t say that I wasn’t worried when he told me to stock up, even though he told me not to worry.
The next day, I stuffed my freezer with 25 pounds of chicken breasts, grass-fed beef and lean ground turkey. I purchased an excess of 30 bags of frozen peas, carrots, broccoli florets, mixed berries and pomegranate seeds. The pantry got extra quinoa, brown rice and canned beans. For the fridge, many pints of unsweetened almond milk.
To calm my nerves, I made fun of my husband’s preparations to my friends (“Can you believe he ordered N95 masks from 3M?”) while hiding the details of the what I now had in my freezer. I was hoping they would reassure me that he was being ridiculous. And, mostly, they did. Until this past Friday. That was when they started texting me pictures of their supplies, and I realized that I wasn’t ready for this thing at all.
It turns out that there are multiple approaches to attempting to prepare for a possible pandemic. Mine was to be overstocked in a way that supported my regular life. The one where I am perpetually on a diet to lose the 10 pounds that have been hanging around my midsection for half a decade, and where I try to get my kids to read more and watch less iPad. It was really a little counterphobic. My friends did it better. If this was to be end of the world as we know it, they would be quarantined at home feeling fine. Their supply photos featured counters full of Oreos, Fruit roll-ups and Doritos. They would be making Velveeta nachos and hot fudge sundaes topped with Redi-whip. I, on the other hand, would be luxuriating in baked chicken breasts and kale.
If I had been a little more willing to openly panic, I would definitely have made sure I had enough supplies to bake a month’s-worth of chocolate chip cookies, and the Haggen Daz to accompany them. Had I not been trying to keep a stiff upper lip, I would have focused on downloading all 99 episodes of iCarly, the full 6 seasons of BoJack Horseman and, possibly, every single Sopranos and The Bachelor, instead of buying dry erase boards and home-schooling textbooks on Amazon. Yes, I am the person who cancels dinner with my adult friends if one of their children is sick, but, in the face of Coronavirus, I would resist the mass hysteria and uphold my status quo.
Of course, at the end of the day, no matter how we choose to prepare, we can’t know if we have done it right. Because we don’t know what is coming. Currently, it looks like this virus won’t be the one to get Gucci to design a hazmat suit; but we all might be stuck at our homes for a few weeks. Or maybe we won’t. In meditation, we spend a lot of time trying to get comfortable with this kind of uncertainty. We are taught that we should use these moments as opportunities to feel more awakened, to notice and appreciate our present moment. I guess for me that means that, if we do get quarantined, I can be ok with the fact that I don’t have the Kraft mac ‘n cheese and hunks of chocolate that I would have bought for comfort, had I acknowledged my panic. And to be forever grateful that my husband has enough wine in his 3000-bottle cellar, to keep me drunk enough not to care.
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