Pandemic Pandemonium, Chapter 1

I was one of the few “lucky” ones. I worked from home. I enjoyed very much the quiet solitude that came from dramatically reduced human encounters. And the complete lack of traffic on my way to the spare back room. I complemented my insincerely professional look of company-issued, increasingly cardboard-crisp shirt with an even crisper Manchester United tie. The tie, totally unsanctioned by my employer, is a conscious nod to my repressed middle-school-aged inner child, and my proud contribution to internet fashion. It is also the second adrenaline-pumping risk I take on the job after the laptop radiation. Below the waist, I went weekend casual, as per the Florida state-mandated indoor dress code, with sun-starved chicken legs crowned with boyfriend boxers the last girlfriend purposefully left behind eons ago. I had already become a poor imitation of Howard Hughes. The same hygienic fortitude and social finesse, but with much less financial gusto. Then the pandemic hit. Suddenly, everybody started working from home. I was no longer a lone soulless internet grazer. I was joined by countless others. As a side order with this god-awful new reality, came the fact that now everybody was doing everything from home, not just their jobs. With all this widespread home-schooling, home-quarantining, and general home-hoarding, not to mention all this working-from-home, working from home became a challenge. Before all this, my family was never home together at the same time other than at bedtime when everyone went to their separate slumber pods, thus minimizing any risk of togetherness. We now found ourselves having to make some grand adjustments to survive our newly congested hallways, bathrooms, and the overall airspace. According to a certain individual I do not wish to identify for fear of retribution, whom I will refer to as “a household member of opposite gender with veto powers”, our normally quite roomy house stopped being roomy. We started losing square footage and air volume for no apparent reason. We were experiencing a severe shortage of breathable air and quiet serenity. Somehow, we popped a leak somewhere, and apparently it was not where three children whined annoyingly, two dogs barked loudly, and a certain female yelled lovingly. It turns out, the leakage concentrated around my little corner of the house where I had set up shop for quietly working from home, away from all the disruptive elements. Just like all other mysterious phenomena at our house such as missing items, broken toys, unexplained smells and unprovoked smirks, this, too, was deemed my fault. Something had to change. They had the numbers. I had the neatly nested red circles on the back of anything I might wear. As any self-respecting hunter knows well, by moving, a target can avoid getting hit in vital organs. But with that comes the risk of debilitating wounds with life-long disability implications. Faced with equally rewarding choices, I decided a coin toss is the prudent thing to do. The coin was shot in the air with a perfectly symmetrical hole right in the middle. She may not be able to tell a ladle from a spatula, but she sure can handle a firearm. Another reason well-justifying my decision to marry local. So, I had to move. Thus changed my ‘working from home' situation. Technically, I am no longer working from home, but rather, working from behind home. Age of internet, meet the great outdoors! I hung my blue backdrop from a tree in the back yard. I placed my laptop on an old, rusty barbecue grill dumped in my backyard by a recycle-weary environmentalist neighbor that has not grilled anything since colonial times. The grill disintegrated into dust immediately, so a nearby tree log dating back only to my childhood became my new workstation. Unlike cheap metal and social conscience, some trees just don't decay, I guess. My throne is a plastic lawn chair that is missing a leg, compliments of a wayward alligator who obviously mistook it for a four-legged white bird. We either have strangely mutated birds, or alligators with severe eyesight issues. Those obese lizards can spot a mischievous cat, small child or a clueless tourist hooking bait in shallow water from a mile away. So, my money is on the foul-smelling tint on the lake, causing mutations, compliments of the nuclear power plant down the river. Freaky creatures are such commonplace occurrences here that at the maternity ward shop they sell balloons that say, “it's a baby with all four, and only four limbs”. That gator is just fine. He's got better than 20/20 on all three eyes.

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