Sunday, July 26, 2020

COVID-utilization by Christine Michaud

Stage 3 is on the horizon; people are emerging from their homes. I watched Marcel leave this morning suited up with mask, sanitizer, wipes.  We’ve done it! After months of lockdown in the same space, both of us are still living, no major bloodshed. Everything’s going to be all right. Isn’t it?

Now it’s just me and the fur kids at home.  I’ve just poured a coffee, sat down on the couch where I sat every morning in COVID lockdown until it was time to go sit somewhere else. I’m not as eager to jump into the germ warfare as Marcel is, I’ve made a safe nest inside our home.

Speaking of home, it has come to my attention that the state of my house has been the topic of conversation around this place for a while.  Certain residents appear to have a bone to pick with the staff, and by staff, I mean me.

The dog has begun holding daily meetings in the kitchen corner with the cat and what might either be a mouse or that olive I dropped last night. (I really should look for my glasses.) Anyways, I’m pretty sure the discussion is about me.

Whatever. They can have their dumb meeting, I’m the only one out of all of us that can open the fridge door.

Who’s laughing now.

Speaking of the fridge… it’s nine o’clock, breakfast was like forty-five minutes ago, a little early for lunch – I need a snack.

It’s a small struggle to lift myself off the couch.

“What is there to eat?” I chant my mantra out loud.

The dog’s ears prick at her favourite word – meeting adjourned.

I give her the stink eye as I head over to the kitchen.  I pull open the cabinet for a plate … and the cabinet’s empty.

“Crap.”  I turn around and the sink is full, a teetering stack of dishes threatening to plummet to their demise.  Immediately my brain flies into high gear, calculating between my level of hunger and the chore of wading through those dirty dishes.

And this is why the cookies are always the first to go.  I just stick my hand in a box, pull out a cookie – need a plate?  Nope.  If I’m feeling crumbly, I can get away with a paper towel – don’t have to wash them. 

Alas, all the paper towel snacks are gone.

I look back towards the leaning tower of meals gone by.  You know, I’ve been meaning to get new dishes.  My eye wanders over to my laptop, open to Amazon’s homepage.  We’d have to eat like animals, straight off the counter for a bit, but with my Prime membership a setting for eight could be here in two days.

Guilt and my bank account bring me back to the sink full of dishes.

While Marcel, has been working long, physically gruelling days, I really haven’t been doing that much.  I’ve devised a schedule full of nothing, curiously without any spare moments left over.  I’ve sunk into a strange dimension where time whirls by while the minutes drag.

I have eyes; I can see the mess surrounding me – I have to pick the dog hair out of my morning coffee, just like he does – he really doesn’t need to verbalize it.  But he does, our earlier conversation still ringing in my ears…

“What do you do all day?  Seriously Christine, I thought I had grown a beard overnight till I wiped the dog hair off the mirror.”

Huh.  I could have sworn he had a beard.  I really should pay more attention.

“I gotta head out.  Maybe you should try to clean up in here today.”  He shut the door behind him before I could respond – chicken.

How has he not figured out the more he nags, the less I’ll do?  I was just going to start cleaning.  I can’t do it now – he’ll start thinking he can tell me what to do.

I sigh.  “Fifteen minutes till I Love Lucy comes on,” I warn the disbanded assembly of furry mutineers (and possibly an olive).  I’ll clean for fifteen minutes. Then I can relax with a tea and … not a cookie.   “Damn it.”  My entire day is ruined.  I consider running down to the store on the corner to pick up a little something to enjoy with my tea, but then I’d have to put on shoes, a mask, and I guess, brush my hair – so much work.

I look at the sink.  I open the fridge door again. Stare sightlessly. Hmm, I’m going to need a pan if I’m going to make something to eat.  I look at my shoes – too much effort.  I groan.  So many dishes.  It’s almost impressive he managed to cram them all in there.  For all the energy it took him, Marcel could have just washed them.  Okay, maybe that’s not fair, I might not be equally contributing to the household these days.  I guess I could do the dishes without complaining. I’m good like that.

Not two minutes into honest housework and a nauseatingly familiar odour insults my senses.  I let the bowl in my hand plunk back into the sudsy water as I sniff furiously around the sink.

That is when I see it.


I pick up Marcel’s favourite spatula, (not that he cooks), holding it over my head, ready to strike the hideous green sponge skulking behind the dish detergent if it moves.

It’s back.

That green and yellow, bacteria-laden, disease-infested, odour-permeating, half-disintegrated sponge.

The bane of my existence.

He’d found it in the garage where I hid it, probably sniffed it out, and brought it back into my kitchen.  For a guy who doesn’t do the dishes, my husband has developed a very strong opinion on how to do them and, most importantly, with what.  Before lockdown such opinions didn’t exist.  But rest assured, I have supported his stand on dish scrubbing as any loyal wife should – by telling him he can wash the dishes with anything he chooses, whenever that fateful day might come.  I’m not holding my breath.  I look back at the sponge – yes, I am.

Whether he holds stock in the Scotch-Brite company or he’s psychotically stubborn, every time I turn around, there’s that stinking sponge contaminating my kitchen and smelling up my house.  I can’t explain my husband’s attachment to this disgusting rectangle of stank. I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  But, for richer or poorer, healthy or sick, sane or insane, he’s all mine – and for the life of me, I can’t toss that vile sponge in the garbage. 

I hear the car pulling into the driveway.  There he is, sitting behind the wheel, his mask hanging to one side, swinging from his left ear.  I watch him reach behind him and grab a grocery bag.  My eye immediately goes to the yellow and green package sticking out of the top.  He’s bought reinforcements. 

Using Marcel’s inexplicably favourite spatula, I maneuver the offending sponge, balancing it precariously on the tip, careful not to make contact, and toss it out the window.  I don’t have great aim, if I had been aiming for him, I’d never have hit him square in the side of his head.  That’ll give the critters something new to discuss at their next meeting.

COVID has been said to alter our perspectives, show us what is important, re-align our priorities.  We’ve all had the chance to get to know the people we share our lives with in a new light.  Some days I wish our life was on a dimmer.  But that’s okay.  Everything’s going to be all right. Isn’t it?

Christine at socially distanced beach
Christine Michaud currently resides on a few acres with her very understanding husband and three dogs.  While waiting to be able to travel again she spends her time reading, writing, and kayaking on the creek that runs through their property, thoroughly annoying the wildlife with her camera.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor,  Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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