No Walk in the Park

The sun makes its appearance today. Which is weird because after the last two months I was certain it no longer existed. I reached my blanket out the window to shake out the cat hair and my fur and I realized: holy crap, it’s not bitter cold.

We hadn’t been out much recently. What with new cultural strains of COVID attacking our air streams, and a government incapable of getting us a vaccine. Then there’s the subzero weather and a month of daily snow. Yeah, I wasn’t running outside. Inside there’s socially acceptable sweatpants and warmth. A heater that works well and a TV. It was hard to talk myself into going out.

But with that being said, I knew I needed to see other people. I was forgetting how to converse and last week while talking to a customer service rep, I found that I was asking her a lot of questions that weren’t on our grid. When’s your birthday? She asked me. October, I told her, when’s yours? When she answered April, I went on to ask if she was expecting anything good. When I realized what I was doing I felt a bit embarrassed, but it would have been worse had she not obviously been similarly engaged in the conversation.

Burke has begun speaking in voices. We aren’t 100% sure why, though we surmise that it’s a combination of speaking to Chinese children four hours a day and her voices for the cat. Basically, we were forgetting how to be normal human adults. What would happen next time we were in a pub? We weren’t going to go out and talk to others, but just be near others.

We bundled up, packed a flask of whiskey, hand sanitizer, two masks, and we were on our way. We went to Ladronka, a nearby park where people ski and walk. There’s a pub there and we thought that maybe with a day so sunny they might be selling concessions. We were right. The sky was blue, the sun shone on the snow almost too brilliantly. People were everywhere: cross country skiing, walking, sledding, trekking, and some psychopaths were even jogging. It was like the snowy version of a Monet painting.

We circled the park and planned to hit the stand on the way back. Everything was good. Making a wide arc around a family of people who stopped in the middle of the walking path to have a discussion, a man coming the other way on skis made a comment at us. You’re supposed to be on the path, he said. In response, I pointed to the large group and he shrugged. I then waited in line for a drink and was subjected to the tendency to forget that you need to pay for anything. A family of four waited in line in front of me so that one of them could get soup. They had pulled their headbands over their nose and mouth and seemed relatively confused when the headband didn’t cover both at the same time. A man cut in line on the pretext that he had been thinking about getting in line before the line started. The two people working couldn’t handle the onslaught of four people and they devolved into rudeness and ineptitude more rapidly than human societies fall into cannibalistic decline during a zombie apocalypse.

By the time I got to the front the man was aggressive and lacked the ability to speak and not rub his temples at the same time. I asked for two beers.

“We don’t have it.”

“You don’t have beer?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said as he handed a beer to another man.”

“Well what’s that?”


“Can I have two of those?”

“Fine. That, we have.”

I bit my lip to prevent myself from asking what the difference is between beer and beer. He was in a danger zone of grumpiness and turning me away because of misplaced irony would not be above his current mood.

I took my beers, thanked him, and went back to the bench.     

The people skied around us, jogged, sneezed, blew snotputs, coughed, yelled at each other. A tipsy man with no mask on and spittle on his beard approached us as we walked through the park. I literally held my arm out to him to keep him away and shook my head.

“Asshole,” he said.

“Read my mind, brother,” I said.

By the time we arrived home, the hate part of my love-hate relationship with the human race had been reinvigorated. It was then that I was reminded of the positive part of self-isolating. I bought four beers on the way home to celebrate another month indoors.

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