I went charging into the COVID-19 stay-at-home period like a 5-year old with a tasting spoon at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop. So many choices and ways to reboot my life, alter my values, ramp up my self-improvement activities. I was excited, and the world was my oyster.
Instead, I discovered what I’d call the COVID-10.
Granted, I did read several excellent books and started a new exercise routine, but somehow my version of Kryptonite, ice cream, found a way back into the freezer.
I like to consider myself self-motivated and disciplined. The sun rarely beats me up in the morning, I always return the shopping cart to the corral, and I make a list nearly every day — even weekends.
Ice cream, however, melts my willpower into a puddle of goo.
It started innocently. A small scoop after a hard day of pulling weeds in the yard or maybe following an extra-long bike ride. But like all weaknesses, the erosion quickly slipped from an occasional treat to an outright psychological dependency.
Exercising when you are older is a different formula. No matter how far you ride or how long you work out, you can’t seem to outpace cheats. Sometimes I’m riding along and picture an ice cream drumstick with scrawny stick legs running a few paces behind, taunting me all the way.
“You can ride, but you can’t hide,” he says. “I’m going to get you.”
And he’s right. As the sun goes down and I’m unwinding, I hear a distant drumbeat from across the house. It begins slowly.
“Drumstick, drumstick, drumstick,” it says.
Minutes pass, but the noise returns only louder. After half an hour, I’d swear I was the troubled protagonist in Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
“Drumstick, drumstick, drumstick…” the beat continues, growing louder between my ears.
I fidget in my seat, try to refocus on the pages of the spy novel I’m reading. Eventually, however, I’m under the hypnotic beat and standing in the middle of the kitchen.
As the freezer drawer opens, light spreads across the freezer bin, revealing a cornucopia of arctic-temperature treasures.
For some reason, the drumsticks seem to draw a few extra rays of light, calling me to them. I fold.
Moments later, my book cast aside like the cellophane wrapper once protecting the ice cream, I dive in. Guilt must add several tantalizing layers of flavor because the forbidden fruit (ice cream, in this case) never tastes as good as that first bite. The second isn’t too bad, either. Rarely do I remember anything beyond that point.
I’m not alone. I’m hearing from friends about their ways of dealing with self-imposed isolation. The closing of schools, in particular, put some in a new position.
One wrote during the stay-at-home, “Don’t judge my recyclables, I’m homeschooling.”
Our battle with COVID is a serious challenge. And while we need to follow medical professionals’ advice, I’m not sure covering your mouth with an ice cream cone is the preferred strategy.