Social distancing, per cdc guidance, calls for six feet of space. A week ago that was a punch line.
I walk into a local grocery for the second time in as many days to pay an energy bill that I missed the first time around. The lady at the counter wears long leopard braids and labors over a copy machine in service to a big fat momma who had the modern Peabo set as her ringer, and as Peabo sang a few bars, the minutes dragged on in full elucidated purgatory, I remained transfixed by the ways in which we are so humble and meager, yet strangely beautiful.
Anyways as the minutes continue to roll in the exposed air, I sense a man approach from behind, I take a few steps forward beyond the roped line towards the counter, and in sheer pack solidarity he too closes the distance. Its at this time that an inner voice reminds me of the cdc guidance and I shuffle a few feet forward. The man behind closes the distance and then coughs. He begins to speak into his cell phone, the raspiest voice I've ever heard, like burnt tin foil, but recently intubated, quiet, weak. My fight or flight kicks in, an urge to confront quakes and passes, civilization holds. The copy machine continues to hum and baffle sweet Taylor and her braids. Big Fat Momma's nails click on the counter, the posted paper sign informs customers that no returns will be accepted but fresh produce that does not meet standards can be exchanged. A lady from the checkout line laughs and talks about icing for her sons birthday cake, her cart is full, she looks early forties and slightly tired, but still good. A store clerk has bright red hair contrasted by her creamed coffee skin. People are wiping everywhere, wearing gloves. Wiping surfaces, screens, baskets. People hold paper towels in their hands to pick up baskets, open doors. Somebody told me they Lysoled their debit card. And the man behind me continues to cough and wheeze. He's not covering either, not even turning away. I'm at the counter with Taylor now, and I get a good look at him. He's a big fat man bald as a shiny tan bowling ball wearing a yellow T-shirt and God bless him a full on bond villain eye patch. He's got a goatee and mustache, and now I have a pain in my neck.
Camus Camus, sweet plague dumpling, dim sum.
The first day declared a national emergency, I walked into the Hong Kong House. It was all so much, the President called it the 'Chinese Virus' and there I was confronted by the white board of specials, all written in chinese characters, it was too much, this time I ran. After collecting myself, we rallied the party and walked back in and the first person we see is an asian fellow with luggage. Coughing behind walls. We tried to order dim sum, but the guy who usually makes it already left the building.