The other day, the clerk at the grocery store picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer and handed it to me, the sort of thing that makes you think you're surrounded by a cloud of flies.
"No thanks," I said, wanting to add, "CDC guidelines have dialed back on the whole sanitizing-surfaces thing, because we now know that COVID isn't spread by beeping groceries, and, besides, I have some in my car I'll probably use out of rote habit, the way I now touch the screen in self-checkout with my knuckle instead of fingertip. It was only last month I broke myself of the habit of opening doors with my feet, if possible. I must have looked like a Munchkin auditioning for 'The Karate Kid.' "
Turns out she wanted me to take the bottle. They were free. In the early days we treated the stuff like the last dram of whale oil to keep the lantern lit in deepest January; now they can't give it away.
Did you stock up? I have gallons of goop, set away for the next pandemic, which probably will come from dogs and be called ROVER-24 or something. Some dire day, I'll bring out the old sanitizer like a fine wine: ah, the 2020 vintage. Top notes of citrus and paranoia; clean finish of alcohol and isolation. Pairs nicely with homemade bread.
The masks are a different issue. I have 176 paper masks left over. I think I know what to do with the masks, but let me digress for a moment.
You've heard of the cicada hordes in the East, right? They emerge every 17 years, reminding us that nature is patient and cyclical, and also disgusting. I'll still take a billion of them over one June bug.
June bugs are the stupidest insects on the planet. Spiders are architects; ants and bees build societies. June bugs are clumsy drunks that run into your face, buzz a loud SORRY DUDE, stagger off, and either end up in your hair or down your shirt. I was sitting outside one year with my laptop and a soda, and a June bug went down my shirt; somehow I managed to dump the entire soda into the computer before bolting out of my chair and catapulting it across the lawn so I could rip off my shirt with both hands.
A June bug got into the house a few nights ago, and I was tasked with dispatching the invader. It's not hard. They tend to sit down and do nothing for a while, possibly passed out. You don't know if you should whap it with a newspaper or call it an Uber.
(By the way: What if you're one of those modern people who doesn't have a newspaper? Do you go to startribune.com, download the PDF of the front page, print it off and roll it up?)
Anyway, I nailed the thing, and tossed it outside, where perhaps it lay on its back for an hour, thinking, "Anyone get the plate number?" before staggering up and running into a wall. If they're as dumb as I think they are, we can get rid of them by talking loudly about, "Oh, I love July" and "This is the hottest July ever," so they will think "Welp, that's my cue" and die.
Back to masks: If you have an extra hundred, consider selling them online as June Bug Ingestion Prevention Devices. No one wearing a mask has ever had a June bug blunder down their gullet while talking. While you're at it, fill a pot with sanitizer, wait for a June bug to land and then toss a match. You can fill in the crater with fresh dirt. Or use it as a mask landfill. Your call.
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