Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Duration: Death by Parsley

 

I am lucky to be married to a good chef. She doesn’t get to cook very often, since her work extracts nearly every molecule of energy. She comes home frayed, and I hand her a beverage and wave to the meal that awaits. Her ability to feign delight is an ongoing theatrical production rivaled only by Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” in London, and I appreciate the subterfuge. Long marriages require many small sweet deceits.  

The first weekend of the lockdown she decided to make fish stew. This betrayed a somewhat different approach to life in The Duration.

Well, I said, checking the master list of supplies, we have the following fish. Four salmon, four tilapia (breaded, Italian spices), four cod (breaded, Southwestern), four crab cakes. There might be some fish sticks back there, you could cut them up and put them in some broth, and there you go.

“Noooo! Real fish stew.” She was browsing a recipe site on her iPad. She was making a list. I took a look. 

Hmm. We have paprika. We don’t have white pepper, but we have black pepper. It would do, no? Isn’t pepper a matter of degree, not hue? We certainly don’t have parsley.

Then she said she was going to go to the store for it.

Hold on a moment. Holllld on. You’re going to go out? To the store? Are you out of your mind?

This from a guy who loves the grocery store! Always have. But now I see it full of shuffling zombies with ropes of spittle hanging from their mouths and noses, coughing on everything while the store’s PA system plays ’80s hits. Remember when they used to describe the beat of a song as “infectious?” Those were the days.

She decided to go to the big store instead of the small one, AND take Daughter for a driving lesson, AND take the dog so he can have a ride. It’s as if she said, “instead of the salmon, I’m going to risk all you hold dear in order to procure a flavorless garnish.”

I run the calculations: worst-case scenario, she gets COVID, Daughter runs into a pole, Dog runs away through a broken window. 

“We can track him by the blood,” I almost say, but I just clench shut on the worst-case scenario. We are all so mightily, heartily, weary of worst-case scenarios. We are also mightily, heartily, weary of the media’s ghoulish glee in trotting out visions of a skeleton parade every damned hour. If they ran a story about the pleasures of taking a hot shower in these stressful times, the first paragraph would say “New projections show that 100% of the people who get into the shower could possibly slip and crack their head open on the tiles.” 

Maybe they’re right. I doubt it, but you don’t know how to calibrate things these days. The mortality rate’s still low, and here’s a famous healthy person who just died. It’s contagious but you don’t need masks, oh wait you do. Here’s an increase in reported cases without context, compared to another country, and also this country, and here’s news from a country whose politicians lie about everything, and here’s a tweet from a nurse who sounds like the Borg have just beamed into the ER and are assimilating everyone, and also Trump said this but no here’s the full quote and also Rob Reiner is unhappy.

Land sakes, it makes a man want to hug his wife and child and dog but you can’t, because they’ve just driven off into the DEATH FOG.

Metrics! Give me metrics! If this was the “War of the Worlds” scenario it would be easy.

1. Is there a Martian Tripod outside destroying everything with a death ray? If not, you may leave the house. Be alert for tell-tale sounds indicating Tripod activity.

2. Is there a Martian Tripod in the local area destroying everything with a death ray? If yes, you may leave the house, but be quick about it, and do not spend a lot of time rapping the cantaloupe to judge its ripeness.

3. Is there a Martian Tripod in the next state over, destroying everything with a death ray? If yes, you can stop at the drug store for some hair dye and cotton balls, if you must, and okay an oil change, fine, but I’m not sure you grasp the gravity of the situation.

Off they went. 

The trip was uneventful. Everyone washed their hands. They bought rice, so I spent a relaxing hour disinfecting every grain. Very zen. Fish Stew Dinner was fantastic! For dessert, Rotaria broke out the special Spanish toffees she’d brought. The girls worked on a puzzle for a few hours, then had riotous FaceTime convos with friends in distant places. Daughter was video-chatting with friends in Brazil and Taiwan, and everyone was wearing a mask for comic effect. 

What drives me a titch loony is the idea that the 14-day window to see if you’re a subject of the Emperor Covidius resets every time someone goes out and … and exists in an enclosed public space. Daughter has passed her quarantine from NYC. I’m a good week and change past the day I thought I’d gotten it from a coughing clerk and blamed my eventual demise on a trip for Altoids, but now I’m looking at a fortnight wondering whether the germ will sweep the house over parsley.

I have a supply run scheduled for Thursday morning, and this time I am buying an expensive single-malt. If I’m going to get the plague, I want the last trip out to have some meaning. 

That said, announcing “Over the top, ladies; do you want to live forever?” when I enter the liquor store is probably not a good idea. Although if you’re going to say it, that’s probably the place.

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  1. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    So you say, “You can track him by the blood.” I don’t know what breed your beloved Booser is, but it sounds like you at least are part bloodhound!

    And thanks for the inspired look at the world of your household and the state of a brain somewhat hassled by the “Germs that Will Kill Us All.”

    Also, isn’t parsley one of those good herbs that you can steam up and breathe in and it will certainly disinfect whoever breathes in its steam once and for all?

    • #1
    • March 30, 2020, at 1:05 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m allergic to parsley. Just sayin’.

    So, just to be clear, that tripod making all that racket down the street, that’s not just the Covid police? I should be looking into that?

    • #2
    • March 30, 2020, at 1:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My wife too has decided to pass the stay-at-home by cooking. Danger: Weight Gain Ahead!

    • #3
    • March 30, 2020, at 3:31 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. E. Kent Golding Member

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    My wife too has decided to pass the stay-at-home by cooking. Danger: Weight Gain Ahead!

    Possible weight loss if replacing restaurant meals. Home cooked tastes better and is less fattening.

    • #4
    • March 30, 2020, at 4:39 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    My wife too has decided to pass the stay-at-home by cooking. Danger: Weight Gain Ahead!

    Much like the freshman 10, they’re calling the weight gain the Covid 19.

     

    • #5
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:17 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Blondie Thatcher

    Keep ‘em coming, James. If/when this ever hits my hospital like a ton of bricks, I’ll have to read these to my coworkers. We will need the levity. Might even get a few subscribers out of it. 

    • #6
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:19 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Historians and psychologists will look back fondly on this period: they will write countless papers tracking how America collectively went mad from mass hysteria and cabin fever.

    • #7
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:29 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  8. Stad Thatcher

    James Lileks: They bought rice, so I spent a relaxing hour disinfecting every grain. Very zen.

    Priceless!

    I’ll bet there are some people out there who go to extremes such as this, but I know James isn’t one of them. Right? I mean, this was a joke I’m sure . . .

    • #8
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:36 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    James Lileks: They bought rice, so I spent a relaxing hour disinfecting every grain. Very zen.

    Priceless!

    I’ll bet there are some people out there who go to extremes such as this, but I know James isn’t one of them. Right? I mean, this was a joke I’m sure . . .

    Who, James? The Poster Boy for OCD? He’s an inspiration, he is.

    • #9
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:41 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Lois Lane Coolidge

    The guy at our package store told us that you can use 151 as effectively as a disinfectant as any hand sanitizer on the market, so you’re just getting health-saving supplies if you stop by the rum aisle whilst out getting your scotch. ;) 

    • #10
    • March 30, 2020, at 6:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. D. B. Robinson Member
    D. B. Robinson Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    James Lileks: [N]ow I see [the grocery store] full of shuffling zombies with ropes of spittle hanging from their mouths and noses, coughing on everything while the store’s PA system plays ’80s hits.

    I believe that I may just have sworn of grocery shopping for the duration after internalizing that vision.

     

    • #11
    • March 30, 2020, at 7:41 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. JuliaBlaschke Coolidge

    Hubby went last time and got stupid things not on my list and only about half of the things on my list, so I was thinking of donning a face mask that may or may not work, dousing a few paper towels in lysol and putting them in a plastic baggie and courageously mounting my Jeep and setting out for the Safeway. Of course when I get there and find the shelves bare of most of the things I need it will just put me in a worse mood. But they probably do have parsely! But then so do I. Growing in a pot on my porch.

    • #12
    • March 30, 2020, at 8:01 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Old Bathos Moderator

    Woman arrested for deliberately coughing on produce.

    I wonder if there were people like this in London during The Blitz. How come there were no “Florida Man” stories during WWII?

    • #13
    • March 30, 2020, at 8:01 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Locke On Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Woman arrested for deliberately coughing on produce.

    I wonder if there were people like this in London during The Blitz. How come there were no “Florida Man” stories during WWII?

    They didn’t need click-bait to get people’s attention?

    • #14
    • March 30, 2020, at 8:21 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. Henry Castaigne Member

    James Lileks: That said, announcing “Over the top, ladies; do you want to live forever?” when I enter the liquor store is probably not a good idea. Although if you’re going to say it, that’s probably the place.

    From now on, whenever I got into a liquor store I will proclaim that question. 

    • #15
    • March 30, 2020, at 8:39 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m not croaking for a condiment, let alone perishing for parsley.

    • #16
    • March 30, 2020, at 9:53 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  17. Stad Thatcher

    JuliaBlaschke (View Comment):
    Hubby went last time and got stupid things not on my list and only about half of the things on my list

    And I’ll bet that’s never happened before. (Snicker snicker . . .)

    • #17
    • March 30, 2020, at 11:33 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Stad Thatcher

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Woman arrested for deliberately coughing on produce.

    I wonder if there were people like this in London during The Blitz. How come there were no “Florida Man” stories during WWII?

    I imagine people running around making buzz bomb sounds were scolded . . .

    • #18
    • March 30, 2020, at 11:34 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    JuliaBlaschke (View Comment):
    Hubby went last time and got stupid things not on my list and only about half of the things on my list

    Heck, get stupid things not on my list and only about half of the things on the list.

    • #19
    • March 30, 2020, at 12:22 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. ShaunaHunt Coolidge

    I’m a great offender of the grocery list. But my food storage has comfort foods and items, as well as the necessities.

    I have terrible cabin fever because I haven’t left the house forever. I miss my little jaunts to freedom and time to myself.

    The Duration posts are days of sunshine in my day! Thanks!

    • #20
    • March 30, 2020, at 3:57 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  21. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    I’m not croaking for a condiment, let alone perishing for parsley.

    But standards man! We must maintain our standards!

    • #21
    • March 30, 2020, at 4:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. Richard Fulmer Member

    James Lileks: They bought rice, so I spent a relaxing hour disinfecting every grain.

    I’ve been soaking my rice grains in rum. How do you do your disinfecting?

    • #22
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:10 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  23. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    James Lileks: They bought rice, so I spent a relaxing hour disinfecting every grain.

    I’ve been soaking my rice grains in rum. How do you do your disinfecting?

    I just peel them.

    • #23
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:25 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Richard Fulmer Member

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    James Lileks: They bought rice, so I spent a relaxing hour disinfecting every grain.

    I’ve been soaking my rice grains in rum. How do you do your disinfecting?

    I just peel them.

    Whoa. I’ve seen Oat Milk in the stores, and I’ve wondered how one goes about milking an oat. I’ll bet that peeling rice grains requires a similar technique.

    • #24
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  25. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    James Lileks: They bought rice, so I spent a relaxing hour disinfecting every grain.

    I’ve been soaking my rice grains in rum. How do you do your disinfecting?

    I just peel them.

    Whoa. I’ve seen Oat Milk in the stores, and I’ve wondered how one goes about milking an oat. I’ll bet that peeling rice grains requires similar a technique.

    First you gotta get yourself a tiny stool.

    • #25
    • March 30, 2020, at 5:39 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Henry Castaigne Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Woman arrested for deliberately coughing on produce.

    I wonder if there were people like this in London during The Blitz. How come there were no “Florida Man” stories during WWII?

    I imagine people running around making buzz bomb sounds were scolded . . .

    Stiff upper lip old chum. 

    • #26
    • March 30, 2020, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):
    how one goes about milking an oat.

    ONE GRAIN MORE!!!

    • #27
    • March 31, 2020, at 5:15 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  28. Tree Rat Member

    JuliaBlaschke (View Comment):

    Hubby went last time and got stupid things not on my list and only about half of the things on my list, so I was thinking of donning a face mask that may or may not work, dousing a few paper towels in lysol and putting them in a plastic baggie and courageously mounting my Jeep and setting out for the Safeway. Of course when I get there and find the shelves bare of most of the things I need it will just put me in a worse mood. But they probably do have parsely! But then so do I. Growing in a pot on my porch.

    Last summer I came across some very old seed packs, mixed flowers, vegetables, herbs, who knows. Rather than sensibly entrashing them, I added them to the small plot where I foolishly and optimistically try to grow tomatoes and potatoes (or, as reality would call them, deer food). Somewhat to my surprise, but certainly at least bemusement, some of the seeds actually germinated. Not many — except for multiple varieties of parsley. It took over the patch, a bright green carpet that lasted all through the winter and is still there today. Most amazingly, while the apparently starving deer (judging from appearances) even nibble on evergreen needles, they do not mess with the parsley.

    • #28
    • March 31, 2020, at 7:18 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  29. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Reagan
    GLDIII Temporarily Essential Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So you guys have wives that actual cook dinner for you?

    Must be nice….

    Back when we would split the cooking 50/50 it was fine, but ever since the boys, then 6 and 4 years old, innocently told mommy they prefer the food that daddy cook’s it has been almost my sole province.

    They are now 27 and 24. 

    • #29
    • March 31, 2020, at 1:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):

    So you guys have wives that actual cook dinner for you?

    Must be nice….

    Back when we would split the cooking 50/50 it was fine, but ever since the boys, then 6 and 4 years old, innocently told mommy they prefer the food that daddy cook’s it has been almost my sole province.

    They are now 27 and 24.

    “Innocently”?

     

    I’ll bet she paid them off to say so.

     

    • #30
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:10 PM PDT
    • 2 likes