Social Distancing

Day 8

Today, I did my second non-essential trip out to the shop for essentials. The trip was non-essential as part-time wife currently has no room left in the cupboards or fridge or freezer (please note, not fridge-freezer, and I will have a bone to pick with that about her – or with her about that – in a future post) for any essentials; any time she gets to a shop, she acts like she is in supermarket sweep and buys rings round herself with my money, just in case. Just in case I spend it all on cigarettes, I should add. Interestingly, even though the house is now creaking with food, this has had no effect whatsoever on the phrase most used by the resident teenagers when they cannot avoid social interaction with their parents – the part-time wife is a full-time mother by the way; I am not totally sure how these things work. The phrase in question is only used as a last resort after they have emerged from their respective caves, come downstairs and started angrily prowling around the kitchen wing of the house, opening and shutting various cupboards, sighing and displaying admirably poor foraging skills for primates. They will then stand – empty-handed – in the middle of the stone floor of the galley area of the kitchen complex, look vaguely in the direction of one or other of us, and plead, ‘Is there anything to eat?’

For a while, I was at a complete loss as to how to answer this question. Particularly when, as it often did, it made its appearance about 22.3 minutes after their three-course lunch, or within a beagle’s gowl (an imprecise measure of distance or, at a stretch, time used in Ireland) of the nightly, sumptuous, 14 plate tasting menu provided by yer woman. It was only after years of observing which substances actually satisfied their plea, booty which was then stored under their arms and carried back to their lairs for private consumption, that I was able to translate it fully from teenage-speak to human-talk. What the phrase actually means is, ‘Is there any sugar?’ Not your standard bag of Tate & Lyle or McKinney’s, though; what they are after on their raids on adult territory is sugar that has been processed and packaged and coated and dipped and encased and rolled and submerged in chocolate (best-case scenario) or (worst-case scenario) in some vaguely healthy-looking cereal or grain. As for actual food, they will (mostly) eat that when forced to, but their basic fuel is the white gold of Western Society. Hence the pimples, which sort of serves them right, I feel. They will also eat fruit, but that is just sugar in a different packaging basically. While marketed as healthy to the rest of the world, it is anything but for us diabetics, and has wrecked my blood-sugar records on many an occasion. I should point out that this foraging for white powder is standard behaviour for the teenagers previously known as my children; it is not as a result of the lockdown.

How are you getting on with the lockdown in whatever country you are in? I presume, unless the country is Antarctica [not actually a country, Phil; it’s a continent – Ed.], that you are in lockdown, and restricted, like me, to one non-essential trip per day for essentials. I no more needed to go out to the shop this morning than the man in the moon, but out I went anyway because I wanted to get more fegs and cash to pay the wee boy down the lane for the plumbing work (see previous post) so that he can’t spend it on his non-essential trip to the shop for essentials – some shops do not want cash now in case we hand over Covid-19 to them on our notes, in case that had you confused. Yer woman caught me going out the door, though, and interrogated me as to what I thought I was up to, me being an at-risk group of one and all. She is an Irish Mammy, after all, and worse than RTÉ sometimes with its dire warnings about not going out because it’s going to be a bit windy. I didn’t mention the fegs – have I mentioned yet that one can never, ever, have enough emergency packets of cigarettes stashed about the house in unusual places in preparation for that three o’clock in the morning emergency nicotine hit when the all-night garage in Antrim is just too much of a drive away? She bought the line about the cash for the wee lad, and then burdened me with a list of three further essential items that, apparently, are not already breaking the shelves in my cupboards. To wit, potatoes (check), mature cheese (pushing it) and white wine (ah, come off it!).

Tomorrow I shall expound on the flexible and ever-expanding nature of the meaning of the word ‘essential’. For now, it appears to be lunchtime: I wonder is there anything to eat?


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