Two-minute Tale of the Pandemic

A story by Nancy Creighton Collins from 2020

On March 12th, 2020, the first coronavirus case is detected in Maine. No one panics. We just do what Mainers always do before a catastrophic event: we go to the grocery store. This time feels oddly different. Everyone is hoarding toilet paper, but no one knows why. We stock our cellar with cans of Bruce’s favorite cat food. Husband Jack and I can eat most anything. Bruce, a rather fussy eater, might starve without his Friskies Salmon Paté. We make a special trip to Trader Joe’s in Portland to fill the back of the Prius with cases of Merlot and Cabernet, just in case the pandemic lingers.

Soon schools and businesses start shutting down. The YMCA closes. The library shuts shortly after Jack checks out every book they have on pandemics.

As we run out of food, we order curbside pick-up from Bow Street Market in Freeport. We check, “Substitutions Allowed.” Now is not the time to be picky.

On pick-up day, we discover that checking “Substitutions Allowed” is a huge mistake. I can’t wait to bake a cherry pie, but the can of tart cherries I requested has been replaced with sweet cherry-flavored candies, the kind used in fruit cake.

As the weeks go by, Jack recites his long daily monologue comparing COVID-19 with the Spanish flu and the Black Plague of 1348. Our house feels smaller. The cat spends more time outside. She has cabin fever too.

Finally, the weather warms up. The pandemic drags on. More of our neighbors are walking dogs. Men who don’t have nagging wives now sport ponytails. I am wearing the same pair of sweatpants. My gray roots are showing. When this pandemic is finally over, I plan to shave my legs, get out my summer clothes, and give my hairdresser a generous tip. I might even bake a cherry pie for Maine’s beloved CDC Director, Dr. Shah.

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