A year out of the life of Mitzi Magoo - Keith Roulston editorial
A group of us talked on Zoom the other day about the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and Mitzi Magoo sent me a few entries from her diary that illustrate her year of the pandemic.
The entries show how naive we were back then. For example on March 17 she wrote: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The province says we have to stop going to restaurants and church and that we should all stay home. Oh well, I suppose I can manage this for a couple of weeks – even a month or so if necessary.
But the effects of the plague began even earlier.
• March 11: Went shopping today. There were lineups at the grocery store and liquor store. This pandemic thing isn’t driving me to drink yet, so only the grocery store mattered. I didn’t even care about the lines there until I got to the shelf that was supposed to have toilet paper and found it bare. Later I saw cars in the parking lot with their entire backseats full of toilet paper.
I’ve got six rolls left at home — not much for a family of two adults and three kids. Then what? My mother tells me her grandmother used to tell how they used old Eaton’s catalogues for toilet paper. I don’t even know what Eaton’s is and any catalogue I’ve found has glossy paper so that’s not going to do much good. Besides, they say even putting Kleenex down the toilet can plug it, so I’m sure glossy paper would be worse. Who even knows if you could get a plumber anymore. If I ever see toilet paper again I’m buying every roll I can carry.
• March 25: Hey, working from home isn’t bad at all. I don’t have to worry about the weather for driving to work. I can wear comfortable shoes and my pajamas if I want. I can eat whenever I want – though that seems to be once an hour so I’d better watch my weight.
• April 1: Please tell me it’s an April Fools’ joke and the kids are going back to school after all. They said they were extending the March Break to three weeks but now they say it’s too dangerous to send the kids to school. Well it’s dangerous to my health to have them interrupting me every five minutes when I’m supposed to be doing my office work!
• April 10: No more pajamas at work – at least not on top. And I have to fix my hair and put on make-up. We’re using something new called Zoom to have office meetings from our various homes, so people can see each other and, I’ve discovered from a glimpse inside other people’s houses, any mess in the background. So it’s even more fights with the kids to get them to clean up. At least I can still wear my pajama bottoms and slippers.
• May 10: The good news is that I don’t have to worry about finding time to get kids to baseball or soccer practice since it’s all cancelled because of COVID-19. The bad news is that the kids don’t wear off their energy, so their fights last longer. They could go outside and ride their bikes, or course, but I can’t get them off video games and Netflix.
• July 14: The kids may not ride their bikes, but getting out of the house and getting exercise looks good to me. Their bikes are too small for me so I went out to buy an adult bike. I couldn’t find one anywhere. Apparently everybody else had the same idea, only earlier (toilet paper all over again!). But after two more evenings of listening to kids fight, I rode my 10-year-old daughter’s bike around the block. I don’t even care about the strange looks from neighbours.
• Oct. 25: I thought the fact they cancelled trick-or-treating for Halloween was great – no more sugar-fueled tantrums. But the kids weren’t going to let me away with that one. I got tantrums even without the sugar. I have to go shopping and get candies, then put up with the sugar-fueled tantrums.
• Dec. 15: At least one turkey owes its life to the pandemic. We decided even a small turkey was too big for our family (the kids won’t eat leftovers) so we’re ordering in KFC. Turkeys 1, chickens 0.
• Jan. 11: The kids were supposed to go back to school today. Instead it’s more online learning. I’m trying to work but the kids keep calling me for help. Usually when it comes to computers it’s them teaching me. Do you know how long it’s been since I studied geometry? And I wasn’t good at it then! As for the stories of mythology, they’re all Greek to me.
• Feb. 13: I was so desperate to get out of the house I was ready to brave the cold weather and take up cross-country skiing, but everybody else had the same idea and skis are sold out. Oh well, at least I’ll stay warm.
• March 6: I saw a woman from church in the grocery store this morning and smiled at her, and then felt foolish because of course she couldn’t see the smile behind my mask. But then I thought, if I can still smile after a year of COVID-19, it’s a small victory.