Quarantine Chronicles Day 24: Dumping the booze (well, not all of it) for cleaner living

It’s Day 24 in Isolationland, and since no one knows when this lockdown will end, never mind how it will end, maybe it’s a good time for a pool on the last day of enforced isolation. Somebody guessed Easter Sunday? Well, there’s the pool’s first loser. Gambling tip: It helps to have at least a passing familiarity of this pandemic before you start making wild guesses. Was that the same guy who guessed the number of cases would be zero very, very soon a couple of weeks ago? Let him in the game, we can use his money.

Like I do every evening, I thank God for stationing me in California, the first state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, on March 19, and where it was strongly suggested that people of my age and up stay home four days earlier than that. The state’s hospitals haven’t yet been overrun (something that makes conspiracy crackpots very suspicious) and though my sister was diagnosed with COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago, most of us don’t have close relatives or friends who have been stricken with it.

(And thanks once again to all the concerned friends and relatives. Debi is doing much better, though still on oxygen, but out of ICU. She sat in a chair today; it was the big news of the day and it was a feat that pushed her into a tie with me in terms of physical activity.)

And, while California’s curve has been close to flattening, it’s way too early to bolt outside and celebrate this weekend, as Good Friday transitions into an equally dismal Easter Sunday.

Am I sinking into despondency? OK, maybe a bit. My superpower has always been my uncanny ability to do absolutely nothing for heroically long periods of time. But I’ve never tried tackling 24 days of near-inertia.

I haven’t done many of the things I suggested others do. I haven’t learned how to say anything more than “Where’s the bathroom” in Romansh. I know even less in Franco-Provinçial. Those are a couple of languages I believed I would learn so I could chatter happily with people I suspect I’m related to in Switzerland. Like the sisters Olivia and Rebecca Grobéty (that’s Swiss for “Grobaty”), the current Swiss tap dance champions and the world champions in the elite duo category.

“Nua è tualetta?” is how you ask where’s the bathroom in Romansh. It’s practically a cognate. I think I could pick the language up pretty quickly, though the sole phrase I know now isn’t much of an icebreaker with the distant tap-dancing of maybe-relatives. I have always sort of suspected that I have tap-dancing in my blood.

Remarkably, one thing I did manage to accomplish, along with my daughter Hannah, my partner in isolation, was to clean up four kitchen shelves that made up our secondary and tertiary liquor cabinets. In my defense, they weren’t totally full of liquor, and most of the liquor was, as you might guess, secondary and tertiary in nature. Nobody really needs anything made by DeKuyper, and I can’t even guess why I had pomegranate liqueur in the house in the first place. And I don’t anymore.

Also tossed: chocolate shot glasses, little rings you put around the stem of your wine glass, mostly empty bottles of sherry and marsala wine (for cooking; nobody drinks that stuff raw), the remains of a too-hard-to-store Galliano, some Amaretto, some ancient Bloody Mary mix. Life has been simplified, as has secondary and tertiary space, by narrowing my tastes down to bourbon and gin.

Things saved: A bottle of 1995 Joseph Phelps Insignia wine, the last dram of a bottle of Early Times that was my granddad’s and a bottle of “emergency” Beefeater gin. Maybe a couple of swizzle sticks and some ashtrays in case I decide to take up smoking again.

And now, the space awaits a delivery from Total Wines, which has given me a gaping and panoramic window ranging from “any minute now” to a week from today.

Same with a bunch of groceries we bought with Instacart, though that’s expected today, any time from right now till 5 p.m. It’s easier these days to get a flight to Italy than a two-hour window.

Doesn’t matter. It’ll be a nice surprise when it arrives.

I’ll be here.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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