Long Time Human: Quarantine

Boychild was sizzling. He was sporting a fever of 105 and it felt like a tiny sun was sitting on my lap, radiating solar heat. The big question on our minds was: Does he have the Coronavirus?

It had been 24 hours since his first fever spike and we were flooded with anxiety. His temperature wasn’t going down. What do we do? Who do we call? We’re gonna get it, sure. He’s coughed directly into my mouth, so I’m a goner. I called my mom. I called the daycare person. I called the director of my show. “He’s got a fever and I just wanted to let you know, in case you or anyone have any signs…”

After a lukewarm bath to get his temp down to a still-sweltering 103, we packed it up and went to Urgent Care where we were met by a guy in a lab coat with a mask. “Wait,” he said. “Just a moment.” And he proceeded to ask us a whole bunch of questions. “Have you been out of the country?” Nope. “Fever?” Yep. “Cough?” Yep. Was this guy going to let us into the Urgent Care? Did we need to answer a riddle to get in? “What has one leg at dawn, two legs at lunch, and six legs by moonrise?” He let us pass, but he put a mask on our beloved, fever-ridden Boychild. We told him it was a superhero mask, and he promptly followed up with a deadpan, “Where’s my cape?” He’s three and he already has the timing of a seasoned Vaudeville comic.

Long story short, Boychild has an ear infection. Not Coronavirus, not the flu. We breathed a sigh of relief, vowing to self-quarantine for the rest of our lives.

In truth, it’s not that hard to be quarantined when you have a toddler. I mean, you don’t go out much anyway. Where would we go? Go to a restaurant? No thanks. I’d rather eat at home than have to chase my child under tables and take away the knives or listen to him wail because he’s strapped into a booster seat. He only eats about five beige items anyway. I imagine going to a restaurant for Boychild is like being kidnapped to a boring place full of old people with no toys while being teased by the really cool lit candle on the table. No fun.

We haven’t been to a movie since I was preggos. The last one I saw was Get Out, the perfect film to see when you’re eight months pregnant. Also, not a bad flick to end my movie-going career on. Full disclosure: We have a screen and projector in our house, so I don’t really miss going to the theater all that much. Plus, I’m one of those people who neurotically drink water and have to pee all the time, so it’s nice to have a pause button on hand.

Boychild doesn’t really have any friends. I mean, he’s three– his best friends are our Maine Coon cat, imaginary, tiny versions of Minnie and Mickey Mouse, and his grandma Nonnie, all of whom are pretty safe to be around. Though who knows what Minnie and Mickey do in their spare time? They wear gloves, but do they wash their hands?!?

Most of our friends are at least 45 minutes away and they have kids too, most of them, which means they’re constantly practicing social distancing as well.

We don’t go to live theatre, probably because we’re in the performing arts as a profession. One of us has a rehearsal at night, and one of us takes care of the kid, meaning neither of us is free to see the thing we devote our time to. They just closed the stage where my play was scheduled to run, thus, the production has been postponed until September. One less place to go.

We don’t go to church because we’re secular heathens. I think I was stuffed with enough bible-thumping in my youth to serve me through the rest of my existence. I was raised Southern Baptist, where the threat of HELL was very real, and the devil was around every corner with a baseball bat. My friend’s grandma really believed that there was a corporeal devil lurking around corners with a baseball bat. Why a baseball bat? I never got to ask her. I feel like the devil’s more of a machete guy. Or maybe he’d have a flamethrower. Seems more on-brand. And also, why would the devil be hanging out in Thomson, Georgia? The bar scene is crap, and there are no strip clubs. But what do I know?

The places we do go– the kids’ museum, the playground, the grocery store– now seem fraught with invisible crawling bugs and cast-off droplets filled with viruses. Not that they weren’t crawling with that stuff before, it’s just more at the front of my mind.

Part of me wants to wrap everyone in Saran Wrap, but we’ll probably need to use that for toilet paper now that every store in the country is out. We’re gonna shut ourselves in for a few weeks and try not to go completely bonkers like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Maybe I’ll finally get around to shaving my legs… To my fellow friends and parents in social isolation, I wish you all the best and I leave you with this parting wisdom: Wash your hands.

H. Rice made a tiny human that she’s managed to keep alive for 3 years. She is currently writing from an underground bunker stocked with canned ham, dried fruit, and 20 lbs of egg noodles. Follow more of her adventures here.