As pestilence devours the earth, the ashen-orange Antichrist rides his pale horse in the apocalypse—accompanied by the Manny, Moe and Jack of his administration—where he discovers that many Americans hoard toilet paper as if the latest plague to beset mankind is an acute diarrhea that may last a fortnight or two.
Unfortunately, that is about all he knows about a crisis he believed was a hoax perpetrated by a leftist media just three weeks ago. What he also understands is that many of his friends are losing their shirts in the stock market. For them, their bankers, the airlines and Fox News, he is empathetic and willing to offer expensive cash bailouts or, in the case of Fox, continued bribery payments.
Why, I wonder, if the Fed has dropped interest rates to near-zero levels, don’t the big boys put up some collateral and borrow what they need to get back on their industrial feet? Oh…is it because one doesn’t have to pay back bailouts? Free money? Socialism for the rich.
For those who actually work for a living—waiting tables, digging ditches, running small businesses, tending bar, playing music, cleaning hotel rooms, picking up trash—his attitude initially was summed up in the oft-used expression, “Go piss up a rope.”
His advisers then told him that he could buy re-election by giving every adult citizen $1,000—or perhaps a tad more—of their own money. (Too bad Bloomberg hadn’t thought of this.) Trump’s base, which seems to wallow in its collective lack of education, has characterized Bernie Sanders as a communist nut yet sees this cash bailout as being the very foundation of capitalism. When Andrew Wang, who I believe should be named Secretary of the Future, suggested a monthly stipend, the super-rich went ape while the Orange Menace’s base tried to figure out how much cheap beer $1,000 would buy every month. It also now views the racist Twit-in-Chief as a fair-minded humanitarian whose spiteful attitudes towards non-whites have been magically erased by a hands-on transformation from Billy Graham’s moronic son.
And then I heard one of the condescending henchmen say how Americans need the $1,000 to get by for the next two or three months. Really? What world does he live in?
It’s been more than a week since I’ve ventured out of the house. That’s not exactly true. I’ve been to the doctor; and the liquor store where my friend brings my Scotch to my car. It’s been about 10 days since I last went to the grocery store. Because I typically go to the market every day, I miss it as an activity that provides mild entertainment, minimal exercise, and a chance to visit with some of my friends who work there and the neighbors I run into.
It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make because I don’t want to get sick, nor do I wish to make others sick by spreading specific forms of germs that I may or may not have. While I have been tested (negative for the virus I learned just last night), many others can’t because of a shortage of test materials the pandemic task force failed to order. Oh, that can’t be right. That tiny branch of the government was dismantled by his Orangeness so the funds could be given to Walmart’s poverty-stricken owners. Must be somebody else’s fault.
Anyway, my not spreading disease just seems like the right and kind thing to do. Social distancing is what I’ll practice unless Astrud Gilberto wants to give me bossa nova dance lessons.
Stockpiling of food stores to last a week or two, although that time frame could stretch much longer, seems like the prudent thing to do. Although we’re always prepared at our house for a couple of weeks of really odd meals should the need arise—mostly due to weather—I wish I had picked up a few extra items for the larder. Oh, well…
I’ve admitted in this space before that I like to look into the shopping carts of others to see what they are buying. It amuses me, sometimes, and frequently challenges me to imagine what kind of meals they might be making. It’s also fun to notice body types and see how they reflect their grocery orders.
But back to toilet paper. While the purchase of mass numbers of rolls seems to have ebbed, many are now turning to arming themselves. I’ve seen several pictures of lines of people awaiting entry to gun shops in various parts of the country.
I’m not sure why, although I’m pretty sure it has something to do with an “I-got-mine” mentality that some folks have adopted since Ronald Reagan decided government should favor the rich while hoodwinking the poor.
But maybe they are just imbecilic gun nuts with some vague understanding of the Second Amendment who are using this crisis as an excuse to buy more weapons. Or are they seeking to protect the caches of toilet paper they’ve rightfully hoarded? Are they actually willing to shoot somebody who wants a clean bottom? Or maybe they just want to retaliate in a meaningful way should somebody not sneeze into a tissue or elbow.
And then I read somebody’s expression of this as “a response to the coming of martial law, because Montanans will shoot back.” I can assure you that I will not. Ironically, those most likely to oppose martial law with violence are those most likely to have supported the man who most likely would impose it.
One of the things I noticed at the grocery store 10 days ago—other than the run on toilet paper—was that people were shopping without lists. They were filling their carts and baskets willy-nilly with items whose main virtue was that they weren’t perishable.
At checkout, a gentleman in front of me had full cases of canned peas, corn, green beans, carrots and one pound of ground pork. I can’t even begin to imagine what he was planning to make.
I inspected the dried or powdered milk option. Has anybody ever used such a thing? And why? The first box I picked up had a “best used by” date from 1967, which even pre-dates the concept of low fat. Instant potatoes seem to be a thing, also, for no reason I can imagine.
Judging by many of the carts I peered into, Jell-O and Oreos seem to be the preferred dessert for Armageddon—that “great day of God, the Almighty, in which He pours out their just and holy wrath against those unrepentant sinners led by Satan.” I have absolutely no idea what in the hell that means, but it sounded sufficiently ominous for me to throw caution to the wind and place two packages of instant pudding into my basket.
I saw one lady put eight loaves of plain-wrap generic white bread in her cart. At $3.29 a loaf, each loaded with no fewer than 13 ingredients nobody can pronounce without a degree in chemistry, she would save a small fortune by buying some flour and yeast and making her own bread. I know it’s a lot of work blah, blah, blah…but if nobody is allowed to leave their homes unless they’re bleeding from their eyes, what the hell else is there to do?
Unlike store-bought bread, which stays soft and rubbery with no signs of mold for up to a decade, milk turns sour pretty quickly. One shopper I noticed had 12 gallons of 2% milk, each with an expiration date marked for three days later. Unless she’s running an orphanage, there’s going to be a lot of crying over spoiled milk.
Of course, she might be teaming up with the lady who had a cart load of cereal that are purposely displayed at eye-level of a kid stuck in that fold-down part of the shopping cart. If the kids are sequestered at home, exactly how much sugar do you want to give them before you’ve had your second cup of coffee?
And what’s up with buying cases of bottled water? In all of my reading about Covid-19, I’ve not noticed anything about our water supply being threatened. Besides that, based on the amount of toilet paper being hoarded, everybody seems to be confident the toilets will flush. When we lived in earthquake-prone Los Angeles, we kept a case or two of bottled water because it made sense. We never knew which room we should keep it in, however. The unpredictable nature of earthquakes made it virtually impossible to know which part of the house might collapse, possibly burying our water supply.
One person I know observed that a lot of folks are buying up toilet paper and bottled water but are forgetting to buy food. He has invested a small fortune in canned beans—cannellini, black, kidney, navy, great northern—as well as six cans of every variety of Bush’s baked beans. He’s on a high-protein diet, but his real motivation is to be able to trade beans for toilet paper, should the need arise.
I think his investment will out-perform the Dow.
Photography by Courtney A. Liska
This is a time for comfort food if ever there was one, and nothing says comfort better than mashed potatoes. This is my favorite recipe and it goes perfectly with baked ham or garlicky sausages.
2 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 oz. crème fraîche
1/2 C. whole milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. whole-grain or coarse mustard
1 tsp. dry mustard
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with 1 tablespoon of salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the saucepan. Add the butter, crème fraîche, milk, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, dry mustard, 1 tablespoon salt, and the pepper and beat the potatoes until very smooth and creamy.
Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve.