Illustration: Megan Mericle
I think I hear someone—oh, it’s just my brain talking.
A sneak peek into the future and Day 561 of isolation …
“You got the stuff?”
“Yeah, I got the stuff. You got the money?”
“Yeah, I got the money. Show me the stuff.”
“Here it is. This will treat you right.”
“Seems a little light.”
“It’s all there, man. Four rolls. 500 sheets per roll. That’s two-ply, that ain’t no crappy one-ply. Smooth as a baby’s bottom.”
My TP dealer is overcharging me again, but what choice do I have? He’s got the market covered from one end to the other. Nothing much has changed since President Kimberly Clark and running mate Mr. Whipple were flushed into office on the promise of “a Baby Yoda in every hand and a roll of toilet paper in every bathroom.” So, you take what you can get. Besides, I’m running out of back issues of Healthy Living magazine.
After months in isolation, maybe I’m getting a little paranoid, a little punchy. It’s natural to feel stir crazy, especially since TBS is airing marathons of “Stir Crazy,” starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. I’m talking to myself more and more. “No, you’re not.” Yes, I am. Plus, I’m still recovering from injecting disinfectant a year and a half ago. The mind wanders in a mixed state of boredom and delirium.
Today is a big day for me, however, with actual human interaction. The installers are finally coming to encase my house with the government-issued Surplus Cellophane Retractable Wrap Display, or SCRWD.
Then it’s time for my weekly run to the supermarket. Everything’s virtual these days—virtual sports, virtual medicine, virtual conversations, doing virtual work at home to make virtual pay to sustain my virtual life—but it’s still difficult to get food out of a computer monitor. That may be a moot point, though, with shortages of all foods except for government surplus cheese and a large stash of Twinkies recently unearthed in a 1950s Cold War bunker in Altoona—cheese and Twinkies always endure.
I’ve got to pick a mask for the errand. I can’t believe “The Masked Singer” show made a killing in designer face masks, which, unfortunately, were distributed only to B-list celebrities. But I have my choice of masks left over from Halloween: Harley Quinn or Dr. Fauci.
I hope I don’t get caught up in a skirmish between the Masks and the Faces. They keep battling in the streets, but it’s hard to inflict much damage from 6 feet away. The last standoff happened about three weeks ago. No, wait, it was yesterday. It’s hard to tell how long a day is anymore.
My cat is talking to me. I don’t have a cat.
I’ve now explored every inch of my home and made friends with an interloper, a gecko I’ve named “Gecky.” We play tic-tac-toe (I sometimes let him win) and I’m teaching him how to use the TV remote.
The TV is my ruler and savior. Give thanks and praise to the Creator of Programming.
Theoretically, there’s plenty to watch, especially since TV is free again after Congress decided the masses must be entertained and passed the We’re Finally Stopping Cable Companies from Ripping Us Off Act of 2021.
Even so, I find myself actually looking forward to “Matlock” episodes and, of course, my favorite Lifetime marathons, like “Psycho Cheerleaders,” “Undercover Cheerleaders” and “Psycho Undercover Cheerleaders.”
TV will have to wait. I’m still trying to find work since every business in the United States was absorbed by the Nestlé company. It’s a tough job market, too. Many more people now qualify as hermits and are candidates for any job that requires something to be “hermitically sealed.” I could get some online interviews, though I don’t like using Skype. I’m afraid people will be able to watch me in my living room all evening.
Of course, that might pass for entertainment. But I’m finally realizing why the internet was invented: people still can communicate “face to face” around the world. I’m inside but I see you out there.