Stage Fright

So, on Twitter, people are confessing at what stage of quarantine they currently occupy.

     For example, Pigeon Fancier wrote: “What stage of quarantine are you at, me I’m wearing a foofy bathrobe 24/7, drinking everything out of a champagne flute, calling the house spiders “dahling” in a transatlantic accent”

     As for myself, I’m at the stage that I’ve grown so used to wearing a mask that once this is all over, I’m contemplating taking a job as a stagecoach robber.

     And, I’m at the stage of quarantine where I’ve taken to shouting, “Social Distancing!” at crowd scenes in movies, such as The Ten Commandments, the beach scene in Jaws, and the ball in Walt Disney’s Cinderella.

     After years of familiarity, I’ve put together a list of where on the quarantine spectrum friends and family possibly (probably) reside.

     Petey, well-known for his taciturnity, is at the stage where he’s become positively chatty with folks he meets while walking the dog.  He actually spoke with a neighbor the other day for a full 90 seconds.

     The Kid has been so deprived of human companionship that furniture and accessories around the house have become anthropomorphized.  The child spends much of the day breaking up medical disputes between Doc Martens and Dr. Pepper, and refereeing refrigerator brawls between Duke’s Mayonnaise and a bowl of spaghetti that’s gone bad and joined a gang.

     My mom is a notorious clean freak, whose dirtiest surface in her house is still clean enough to perform neurosurgery on.  She’s at the stage where she’s begun removing the drywall from rooms to, “Really get into those nooks and crannies”.

     My father, who gets more done before lunch than I do in a month has begun cutting the grass with a pair of nail clippers, because edging and trimming with them gave him the control he was looking for.  Whenever my mother took a bath my father, the former Coast Guard rescue swimmer maintained a constant vigil in case of an accident.

     My mother has since switched to showers.

     For a couple of weeks, family friend Chef Chrissie has been playing a version of Chopped; a game in which you have a time limit to prepare dishes using four random ingredients.  Because Chrissie lives alone, he plays against an imaginary opponent with make-believe judges.

     He’s still looking for his first win.

     Maxie, one of my oldest and closest friends, and his husband Mark have three dogs.  They’re at the stage where they’ve made costumes and backdrops to stage an all-canine rendition of Downton Abbey.  The unfortunate effect is that two of the pooches have become unforgivably snooty.  And the pup who plays the butler keeps drinking all the sherry.

     Another friend of mine has drafted a list of enemies from high school, forty years ago.  She has no idea where most of them are today, but if she were to run into one of them, she has a rapier-sharp retort for the sick burn given to her in third-period French class sophomore year.

     A young friend of mine who has twin toddlers is at the stage where she’s been thinking about teaching her children to become bartenders, except their little legs are too short to reach the freezer and no matter how many times she shows them, they can’t make a decent dry martini.

     I hope you enjoyed what is mostly a fictional list.

     But quarantine is awful, and hard on us all.  If you’re struggling and need some help, or just want somebody to talk to, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on their Helpline at 800-950-NAMI.  Or in a crisis,  text “NAMI” to 741741.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at

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