Two days ago, I could take it no more…I grabbed a power washer and went to my back patio, cleared it of any contents and began to spray away the dirt, mold, mildew and grime like I would like to wash away this stupid virus.
Now, in my current state of social constipation, I am anxious to talk to anyone….ANYONE. But, with no one around, the sun shining and, the light breeze blowing through my hair, I hooked up my hose to the power sprayer and began cleaning.
It began with me saying out loud to a stubborn bit of mold to yield to my power sprayer…”You get out you old poopy mold!” My imagination hasn’t changed much since I was a kid, so the mold said, “Never!!!” He even told his “mold brothers” to join hands and resist the alien invader with the hose in his hand. “This is OUR patio!” he screamed. Content to have a conversation, I resorted to my secret weapon…DECK CONCENTRATED POWER DETERGENT! Needless to say, superior technology crushed the resistance and I came out victor…but, now; once again, there wasn’t anyone to talk to.
So, since I was finished with this portion of the job and; having nothing else to do for the duration of my solitary confinement, (I admit, I’ve become depressed because I like interaction with people), I decided to go, practice social distancing and get some plants for my back patio.
Just getting into my truck was exciting! I jumped into the cab and said “Hello” to the dashboard and all the coffee cups on my floor board. “How you guys been?” Yes, it was pathetic…but when you are staved for interaction, anthropomorphic dialogue is my only option. I had a BIG smile on my face. Looking back at that as I write this, I could sense the three month old empty StarBucks cup was quiet and angry with me for not having visited sooner. My tool belt in the back seat was as lonely as I was and jabbered the whole way to the garden nursery.
Jumping out of my truck and trying my VERY best to practice social distancing…I walked with anticipation like a child on the midway at the county fair…itching to get on his first ride. As I rounded the corner my mouth fell open as I heard voices over the intercom and…could it be? PEOPLE walking…but NOT ONE of them talking to each other. My inner Irish Setter wanted to jump up on everyone and say, “Hi, hi there, Hi, oh I’m so glad you’re home…hi, hi!” But, getting a grip…I held back my head and walked in to retrieve the plants…after all this is my duty right now…don’t breathe and get out quick!
Well, THAT plan worked for two steps. Standing six feet away I addressed the lady watering the lemon grass. “Hi, how are you? Having a good day? Isn’t it nice weather? I’ll bet you love working out here in this beautiful sunshine! How is your family? Do you have enough toilet paper? What has YOUR family been doing during solitary confinement? I caught myself in mid-multiple-sentence and put my hand over my mouth. She looked at me and smiled and went back to watering. I re-grouped…”Okay…be cool, she’s just a little afraid to talk…don’t spook her…act casual!”
I picked up a plant or two and saw a lady trying to manhandle a 30 lb bag of mulch. “I’ll help you!” I said. She backed up at least 12 feet and nodded. I asked how many and believe it or not, she held up three fingers! Again…out of my mouth came, “Oh, okay three…you need three? Great, are you working outside today? What are you planting? Does this mulch have dye in it…it’s SO black!” she stared at me like I had spoken Russian, nodded and walked away. I was puzzled. I placed my hand up in front of my mouth and checked my breath, “not minty fresh but okay”…I thought.
I gathered some knock out roses, and a lot of annuals because of their bright colors. I feel I have been sensory deprived so I got LOTS of colors. When I was loaded up, I went to stand in line, a perfect six feet behind the person in front of me. What does an extrovert do when no one is talking? I began to whistle. I whistled the star spangled banner, I whistled “Oh, I wanna dance with somebody…I wanna feel the heat with somebody….YEAH I wanna dance with somebody….With somebody who loves me!” Whitney would have been proud…. but it was like a dial tone in that stupid check out line!!! NOTHING.
Now I’m desperate…people, people everywhere and not a word to speak! I seriously thought about faking a faint, but realized no one would move to help me. I got to the checkout girl and began my last ditch effort for human contact. I thought to myself, “Now, careful Doug…don’t spook her…just smile and say, “Hello!”. But…NOT.
“Hi!” I’ll bet you’ve been busy today!!! (insert panting like a dog and jumping up for attention). I continued, “Now, I have two of these and one of those and four of these and six of those….” She scanned silently. She pointed at the register to tell me how much. I asked, in a vain and useless attempt how to pronounce her name she replied, “Tracy”. I had failed…There was no one to talk to.
I scowled as I walked to my truck and loaded it up. Between three weeks ago and today something had changed and I hoped it wasn’t long lasting. It reminded me of a song by Steven Stills a long time ago.
Do You Remember the Americans?
Standin’ by a snow drift in the pale moonlight
Hitchhikin’ West on a highway at night
Tryin’ to get to Frisco, lookin’ for my girl
Here come a trucker, hope he don’t mind long curls.
I remember years ago hitchin’ this same road,
Never saw a trucker leave a man out in the cold.
“No riders” sign on the window never meant a thing,
Nowadays they just roll on lookin’ kind of mean.
Kind of makes me wonder, scratch my head and kick the snow.
Four years overseas, who are these strangers in my home?
Where are the country people, does anybody know?
Do you remember the Americans, where did they go?
Were they simply bought and sold?
Getting back on my patio at home, I admit I fell into a depression. I was not made for isolation, and none of my anthropomorphic friends could console me.
Be human my friends. We are Americans…this may seem like the worst thing that ever happened to you, but I assure you it is NOT the greatest challenge we have ever had as a nation. During war and gas crisis…during Watergate and Vietnam. Through the Depression and Dustbowl… we have endured…hardships have come and they have gone but the one thing that got us through…was that we were TOGETHER…and we were Americans. Human kindness is more contagious than this virus…and it produces incredible results.
While you’re out there today, don’t let the news or anyone else steal your soul! SMILE at people…speak comforting words… we are not each other’s enemies! Social distance may be in order, but love and caring…reaches across boundaries that cannot separate kindred spirits. Don’t be bought and sold by fear…SING out loud, shout across the way to your neighbors…drop off a flower on their front porch!
DO YOU REMEMBER THE AMERICANS? WHERE DID THEY GO?