It’s hard to open a website or dead-tree publication and not see a story by an “expert” on the best way to conduct your life under self-quarantine (this is what “life coaches” do when normal living stops dead in the water.). Nearly all of them frown on swinging the cast-iron frying pan in the general direction of your spouse’s head.
Apparently, the path to contentment runs through “awareness” that sheltering in place with your spouse, kids, pets and pizza delivery guys is quietly driving you crazy. This is supposed to put you in touch with the urge to literally clean house by sweeping everyone but the pizza boy out to the front sidewalk. If you can somehow delude yourself into thinking that this is found “family time” helping everyone bond and grow closer, it might compensate for feeling like a caged rat.
Here are some answers about living in close quarters that might help sustain you through another month or so.
Yes, wine counts as a vegetable. And, no you can never have enough vegetables.
Yes, it is entirely possible to scroll through the thousands of movies on Netflix, Prime and Hulu and discover that there is not a single one that both you and your spouse want to watch together. She doesn’t want to see them storm Omaha Beach (again), and you refuse to watch anything with Hugh Grant in it.
Yes, you have priority on what gets watched on TV. In fact, if you are following the norms of parenting in the digital world, your kids have their own screens and the only time you even see them these days is when they fight over who gets to use the charger now.
Yes, there are worse things than running out of toilet paper. Your WiFi could go down, or the governor could declare liquor stores non-essential.
No, you do not have to eat nutritiously during the quarantine. Just as “food” consumed from Sheetz or Krispy Kreme when you road-trip doesn’t contain harmful calories, a dinner consisting entirely of fried macaroni and cheese is well within the federal guidelines for at least two major food groups. Double-stuffed Oreos are completely exempt from calorie calculations, as is ice cream, Cheetos and leftover Easter candy.
No, no one wants to play games that were developed when you were in diapers. No Scrabble, no Monopoly, no Risk. No Battlefield. ESPECIALLY no gin rummy. If it doesn’t not have an on/off switch and make annoying sounds, put it back on the shelf. No one cares that you once got a triple word score in excess of 30 points (if that was even a word).
Yes, it is perfectly OK to fight in front of the kids. Ideally you want to refrain from some of the usual profane expletives and references to past indiscretions that normally bolster your position. But no, you can’t demean them for taking your spouse’s side (she/he has spent hours training them to see the world their way, so don’t even go there).
Yes, it is true that Zoom has major glitches that allow others on the call to see you pick your nose, and can reflect porn off your glasses. Just pretend that no one can see what you are doing and enjoy yourself for 45 minutes.
No, there is no end in sight — and, no, you cannot take it out on those around you. After all, they are stuck with you.