Column

The Covid Cut

Sharp scissors and too much time on my hands reveal a little known consequence to quarantine

One day blurs into another during this strange time we’re living in. Who’d have figured there would come a day when we’d find ourselves hunkering down at home, avoiding each other like, well, the plague. Lewis and I are locked down at the lake, which, except for the lack of cable television, is admittedly not much of a sacrifice. In fact, it might actually be a blessing. I do miss my friends, though, and I was catching up with my friend Jennifer via text the other day. She’s been a great lifeline to reality and inevitably raises my spirits.

“What’s new?” she asked.

“I cut my hair today,” I typed.

Within seconds, she replied in all caps, “AGAIN?”

“Yep. It was bugging me, so I whacked it. I’m calling it the Covid Cut.”

I couldn’t see her, but I was pretty sure she was rolling her eyes. “Lewis did the back,” I added, as though that gave legitimacy to an otherwise questionable action.

She immediately texted back, “Some people binge watch tv. Some bake. Some make home improvements. My friend Susan cuts her hair. Every. Day.”

In my defense, it hasn’t been every day. It isn’t as though I’ve gone all Britney, taking the clippers to my noggin and shaving it bald. Maybe five cuts in as many weeks is a bit excessive, but unlike today’s major overhaul, most were just tiny trims. I didn’t mention that I did take the clippers to the dog. I think he looks adorable, and I’m sure it is pure coincidence that he only comes out from under the bed now to eat.

Covid-19 has forced us to really look at ourselves for the first time in a while, and what we see isn’t necessarily pretty. It has been a time of discovery for many of us, and I can’t say that I’m thrilled with all the things I’ve discovered about myself. I’m apparently not as lazy as I thought, hence the clean windows, newly installed curtain brackets, manicured flower bed, and alphabetized spice rack. So that’s a good thing, right?

But I’ve realized that in between the spurts of home improvement and alphabetization, I have become incredibly easily distracted. My priorities have flown out the window, along with wearing shoes, eating any semblance of a balanced diet, and speaking in complete sentences. Something about the lack of structure in the world of quarantine has thrown me completely off my game. Without it, any self-discipline I might have once had is history.

For example, this column should have been finished hours ago, except that in the span of 20 minutes of “writing” I also googled the average size and lifespan of North American Softshell Turtles – which was fascinating and seemed like an appropriate follow-up to my sudden overwhelming need to locate scientific data supporting the hostility of Mocking Birds toward Bluebirds. Don’t even get me started on squirrels.

It has been a bit disturbing to also learn that I’m OK with wearing the same clothes for a week. But there are pluses to that, like making laundry loads appreciably lighter, which is good for the environment, and significantly reducing the stress of figuring out what to wear each day. It also renders social distancing an absolute necessity if you get my drift.

And I’m no scientist, but somebody out there needs to be noting that there are no actual, physical withdrawal symptoms from separation from Target. I must admit that for the first week, I carried a white bag with a red circle on it around the house to simulate the sensation of bargain shopping, but I pushed through it. Therapeutic grocery runs to Walmart helped.

Time used to be a luxury, but now that we have too much of it on our hands, it turns out that time is a privilege, and it comes with a caveat. The quantity has nothing to do with the quality. If we don’t use it wisely, we might as well strike a match and burn daylight. I look back on my complaints of so much to do and so little time to do it. Well, tick, tock, sunshine. What’s your story now?

In reality, it’s ridiculous to whine as though we’ve been sentenced to snowplowing in Siberia, and to go on and on about the inconvenience of it all—when in fact my family is mostly fat and happy. Living in virtual solitary confinement, my octogenarian dad responds to every day’s inquiry on how he’s doing, “I can’t complain.” He proves daily that his generation knows a lot more about sacrifice and perseverance than mine ever will.

I hope that the upside of all this is that we all see things a bit differently now than we did when we blithely cruised into 2020. If we’re lucky, we’ll come out the other side with a greater appreciation for the people and things that really matter. I know that when I finally get to put my arms around my dad again, I may never let go. I really hope that our collective memory lasts long enough to ensure that medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers replace celebrities and sports stars as role models for the next generation. They should have been all along. Shame on us for not noticing sooner.

Jennifer has invited me to go kayaking tomorrow. I’m looking forward to socially distancing together on the water, and the opportunity to regain some perspective lost to the lockdown. She said she’d bring me a hat. She’s a good friend. I laugh, brush clumps of hair off the counter, and put the shears back in the drawer. AM

By Susan Frampton