Croutons in the Time of COVID

On Amazon Prime, Preparing for the Barter Economy, and Why People Should Not Eat Bats

I’ve always considered my absent-mindedness a personal failure. It’s a shortcoming that has led to both hilarity ( Kristi left the keys in the car last night and it got STOLEN! Hahaha!) and misfortune (Kristi left the key in the car last night and it got STOLEN! Bummer!). However, with the pandemic looming, I find myself reaping the rewards of forgetfulness. Due to the many, many Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save automated deliveries I’ve forgotten to cancel, I am FLUSH with toilet paper, people! I mean I have a CRAP ton of the stuff. And I think I have another three boxes coming on the first of the month. I could check my account, but I’ll probably forget by the time I finish writing this sentence. 

For the past couple of years, giant man-sized boxes of paper towels, ketchup, dish soap, etc. have been appearing at the top of my driveway as if by magic.  Generally, these boxes are not cause for celebration: I ALREADY HAVE seven boxes of laundry detergent and enough toothpaste to last me through 2022.  Plus, the boxes are HEAVY, resulting in them  sitting for days in the garage, sprouting messy streams of brown packing paper and plastic pillows, while I implore my children to unpack and distribute the items.  

Well guess who has seven bags of croutons, 12 bottles of EVERYONE hand soap, and is well-provisioned for an intestinal flu or eventual pandemic? This gal! 

I’m so stocked with paper goods, you don’t even KNOW. At last count, I have 32 boxes of Kleenex and 460 paper plates as well as large amounts of some more perishable items. We really need to start eating down our Triscuit supply before it goes stale. 

Before you start judging me as a hoarder, I have made several monetary donations to the local Food Bank and other community organizations.  It’s just that, we don’t know how long this thing is going to last, and my family poops A LOT, so I’m holding onto my stash for now, thanks. Additionally, I fully expect that we’ll be transitioning to a barter economy in the near future. And my chocolate supply is dwindling, since that is something I’m afraid to buy in bulk. I’ve been knows to eat a week’s supply of chocolate in under a minute, I’m not going to lie.  However, I’m not going to sit down and use ten rolls of toilet paper in one sitting (unless things go very, very wrong). That’s where the bartering comes in. 

These are crazy times.  It feels like I’ve entered one of my historical fiction romance novels (minus the romance and fiction) where the world is in crisis and the heroine (a doctor/witch/forest dweller) works tirelessly to save her patients while falling madly in love with a nearby doctor/elf/Scottish highlander. However, I’m not a doctor, and clicking DONATE NOW or gloating over my stash of taco seasoning does not provide the same satisfaction as administering a lifesaving leech bleed, dragon piss poultice or healing potion.

Some of you may recognize the title of this post as an homage to Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You might be wondering, “is she really comparing her family’s passion for croutons to the unrequited love of a young man for a women trapped in a loveless marriage for 50 years (credit to Wikipedia)?” The answer is, of course, yes.

What can we learn from previous outbreaks of diseases such as cholera? Well, at some point, people were like, “Hey, let’s NOT poop into our water supply and see if that helps, ok? Everyone on board with that? Great.”And later: “Have you noticed a lot less people are dying horribly these days? Huh.” 

Hopefully people in China are having a similar conversation about animal consumption. “Listen, no more exotic bat meals, people! Can we all agree that eating disease-carrying creatures is not worth the economy-crushing, world-grinding-to-an-excruciating-halt, lung-drowning cost?” 

Or as in the words of my husband, “People should stop eating weird shit.” 

Cautionary note: We can’t hold all Chinese people accountable for the bat-eating of some of their brethren, any more than we can all blame South Americans for the Macarena. (You’re singing it now, aren’t you? AREN’T you?) We CAN insist the Chinese government take action to close down wildlife markets where diseases such as COVID can begin. Just like governments have a moral obligation to prevent folks from taking a dump into the town reservoir, they must also restrict exotic animal markets that can breed viruses.

Look, I’m not being judgy. I bet bats can be tasty…? There’s no reason why eating say, a pig, is less objectionable to eating a bat, except for cultural perspective (unless you’re my daughter, in which case you’d probably rather eat a bat). In fact, I bet the main reason eating bats never occurred to Americans is because of our Super-Sized mentality. How much meat can there really be on that thing? You can literally see its bones through its wings.

No, the noble bat can’t be singled out. We can, however, blame the Chinese government for their delayed response to the initial outbreak. I would compare this to a crowd on the riverbank noting, “Looks like Aunt Bertha is taking a steamer upstream…should we do anything about that? We should? Well..your know Aunt Bertha. She packs a mean right hook along with a full colon that could really do a number on the economy. Let’s just see how this plays out.”

And because of that delayed response, we find ourselves in a deadly cause and effect chain exacerbated by the delayed response of other parties and governments (note my political restraint here).

My children used to love the book “A Fly Went By,” which begins with a fly- you guessed it!- flying by- and ends with Farmer Brown stomping all over the countryside with a bucket on his foot pursued by (or pursuing?) an angry goat. We are Farmer Brown, people. We need to get the bucket off our foot, stop pooping in the water supply, and hunker down somewhere at socially responsible distances from each other.

I’ll bring the croutons.