Chris Erskine: We’re all coping with quarantine differently. I have Stockholm syndrome
Hostage Day No. 21:
At some point, men will need haircuts and the nail salons will be forced to reopen, or this thing could get really ugly. As it is, a lot of husbands are discovering that their wives have been coloring their hair. Once relationship secrets like that start spilling out, where does it end?
Turns out the Chardonnay Moms in our little town require a bit of maintenance. The husbands require almost zero. Once in a while, you splash them with a little Lysol.
“OK, dear, turn around,” the wives then say, and blast them with the garden hose.
Remember “Dry January,” when all the women quit drinking? Apparently that turned into “Chardonnay March,” when everybody had a glass or two at lunch.
Dear Lord, what will April bring?
It has also come to my attention that our little suburb now also has Tequila Moms, even more thirsty-bold-alluring than the Chardonnay Moms. It’s like gang warfare. And the kids are stuck at home with them. Yikes.
We live now in a world of our own small, comforting habits. Everyone is coping differently. My bored son and I pass long days practicing his driving. We drive round and round in giant loops, admiring the mushroom clouds of spring.
For a new driver, he’s doing very well, though I have to remind him that Audis and other luxe sedans always have the right of way, at least here in California.
And he doesn’t quite get stop signs. Once, he actually came to a full stop, and the driver behind him honked.
“See?” I told him. “You’re just supposed to pause a little.”
Meanwhile, down in Florida, my sis-in-law is self-soothing by putting up some Christmas lights — Corona Lites? In L.A., a Mormon mom I know is listening to holiday carols.
“Silent night, holy night …”
Sounds like my dating life.
Stay safe and sane as you hunker down with family, board games and my corona-themed cocktail, the quarantini. I’ll make you one soon.
Look, whatever gets you through the night. I try not to judge. Heck, I barely move. I’ve worn the same pair of PJs during my entire captivity. I sit around reading dog-eared Ken Kesey novels and listening to Kenny Rankin records. I thumb my ear as if there’s a bug in there somewhere.
Doesn’t really pay for me to be appealing to my captors. They are snarky and increasingly restless. They pass the long evenings mixing up different flavors of White Claw just for kicks, the way millennials will.
For me, the situation remains tense. They huddle over their phones and giggle at TikTok videos. They watch “That ’70s Show,” as if anything with Ashton Kutcher could ever be any good.
Of all my captors, I love White Fang the best. As you know, she was born in a whiskey barrel in an old mining camp. My late wife, Posh, won her in a poker game before realizing, “Hey, this dog’s a wolf!”
Poor White Fang. Right now, she’s a little confused. She wonders why we’re home all the time and not dropping more crumbs like we used to.
“Because we’re in a crisis, you idiot!” I tell her.
She also thinks we are married.
When I kneel down to futz with something — the Wi-Fi, the dryer — White Fang will rest her chin on the back of my ankle. Sometimes I will stall a little so she can have her moment.
With most people home, life on L.A. freeways flies by like a cartoon. Burbank to Beverly Hills? A breeze. Orange County to USC? In a heartbeat.
Indeed, I’ve fallen for my captor. Till now, I always thought Stockholm syndrome was when you craved reindeer chops and pickled herring. Nope. It’s more complicated.
Thing is, there are no secrets when you’re cooped up with family this long. The other day, I revealed my complete confusion over Trader Joe’s, how I’m probably the only person who doesn’t worship rice cakes and all that weird dairy.
I was immediately swamped with suggestions for spatchcock chicken and goat cheese rolled in Argentine blueberries. Honestly, TJ’s is just a parody of itself.
As am I.
I’m just glad there are things to joke about and that we still find reasons to smile.
Your honesty and resiliency impress me. My Twitter friend Gigi reports she’s growing out her beard.
“Me too!” said my niece.
I hear my buddy Bittner is building some sort of ark just in case. My attorney, Billable Bob, has taken up knitting. Big man. Sausage fingers. Good luck!
As I said, I don’t judge. For two weeks, I have been drinking rum out of one of Posh’s old riding boots. At this point, I can almost see the back of the liquor cabinet. In a few days I’ll be drinking 35-year-old Midori mixed with motor oil.
And, sometimes, we’re not coping so hot. Sometimes, we’re all just a little scared.
My buddy Jay confesses to, just before sleep, doing a couple of test swallows and wondering: “Is that a sore throat?”
My daughter Rapunzel confesses to, once or twice a day, pausing to take a few deep breaths to test her lungs.
When I feel scared, I imagine striking out the ’27 Yankees. I pitch Babe Ruth nothing but butterfly changeups and dirty curveballs. I zing him tight on the chin. He laughs a little and flicks the next pitch into the North Atlantic. Jerk.
Hey, let’s promise not to fret more than we have to.
Eventually, the doors will swing open. In a couple of months, we’ll be dancing at weddings again.
And raising a toast to the most amazing thing of all: life.
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