Yes, ‘ll admit it, I was frightened. I was feeling anxious and very uncomfortable almost to the point that I thought for a moment I might have permanently lost my appetite for Cheese Doodles.  I couldn’t help but feel that in some strange way, I had changed. Had I lost my ability as well as my desire to effectively communicate with other humans? I was pretty good with felines and potted plants, but humans…not sure I’m quite up to that. That’s more than a little concerning because now they’re telling me it’s safe again. Safe to go outside and resume life. Hey, slow your roll, guys. Safe for whom? Maybe it’s safe for the more mentally stable among us, but I don’t think I fall in that category.

Let’s be honest. Seventeen months is a long time to isolate oneself but what choice did I have? Every time I plopped down on the couch and hit the remote there was either this octogenarian doctor telling me how dire things were and to remain vigilant or a governor with his ‘must see’ daily TV press conference that featured his precious bar graphs. “Now if you’ll take a look at this graph on the left, you’ll see my still solid but somewhat tepid pre-pandemic popularity rating but then look what happens when the pandemic rachets up in March:  Boom! Ratings through the roof. How do I look, OK?”

I needed an escape in the worst way, something to send my mind in an entirely different direction so  I went to the one place I knew that had absolutely no connection to reality whatsoever:  Netflix! It was there that I was introduced to a very odd, mullet sporting man who liked really big cats and who may or may not have helped to orchestrate the demise of the husband of his business nemesis.  After that enormous but strangely riveting time suck, I was off and running. Any series was game. There I sat for months on end slowly losing my already limited ability to deal and communicate effectively with people.  At first, I thought I might have developed agoraphobia but was finally able to convince myself that I was merely introverted because it sounded like it required a lot less therapy.

Heck, I discovered that I could  survive quite nicely never having to venture out at all. All I had to do was press a few buttons on my phone and anything and everything I wanted magically appeared at my door.  As much as I tried to repress the adult in me, I knew that sooner or later the day would come where I would have to deal with actual human contact. My confidence level was very low. I felt I needed a practice run so  I reached down within myself and  mustered all the courage I could and made a run to Stop & Shop. It didn’t go well.

“Hi, Bob. Good to see you. What’s going on?”

“Can’t talk now. Buying jelly!”

Yeah, not my best effort.

Today, as we seem to be in the home stretch, I honestly believe I’m making serious progress. I went to the mailbox the other day and when I got back in the house and stripped off my clothes, there wasn’t a rash to be found on my entire body! Tomorrow, I plan on practicing  waving at people and if I’m feeling spunky enough, I may even attempt a verbal greeting; hopefully one that has nothing to do with jelly. After all, I’m an adult, damnit. I can do this, I think. Maybe. Hey, c’mon, everyone at their own pace, right? Should I experience a minor setback or two, I know where my sofa is and I still have plenty of Cheese Doodles. Hmmm, I wonder what Carol Baskin’s up to these days?


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