Random Thoughts and Observations from Quarantine By: David Changas

By David Changas | May 4, 2020

I swore to myself that this column was not going to be another Coronavirus/COVID-19/Quarantine piece. That was too unoriginal an idea. I could come up with something. Maybe a recap of the NFL Draft, or a discussion of what the sports landscape will look like (if and) when it returns, or something about Jeremy Pruitt’s dominance on the recruiting trail over the past week. But alas, I am not analytical enough to go deep on those topics, so we are back at square one: The Coronavirus/COVID-19/Quarantine. The silver lining, though, is that I promise I will not lecture. I will not sit on a soap box and tell you the people who think we should stay in quarantine for the next three years are crazy and how we should be opening things up immediately and getting back to it. Nope, I will not do that. This column will consist of nothing more than some random observations and thoughts from the past month and a half of working at home.

In working from home in my cookie-cutter neighborhood in Franklin over the past seven weeks, I realize that (a) I am one of about four people who still mows his own grass. Well, make that one of four people who doesn’t hire someone to do it; my 13-year-old son now handles those duties (and it’s awesome); and (b) there is constantly a lawn being mowed within five houses of mine. It is never ending, and it is especially noticeable as soon as you get on a call. There isn’t that much grass around here, but it is sure as hell well-groomed.

Speaking of my 13-year-old, he decided to take up baking during the quarantine. He has dropped off a bit as things have worn on, but I really enjoyed the soft pretzel kick he was on in late March, and the yeast roll era that followed was nice. He needs to step up in the dessert game, and I will not mind it if he decides to try his hand at actual cooking. We could use a smoked meats specialist around here. Related: elastic waistbands on pants are nice.

While we are on the subject of food, my very frugal wife loves to make sure we do not waste food. She has always been very conscious of this but is especially so now. She finally has let us go to the store after really holding the line early on. To be clear, I appreciate her frugality, not only from the standpoint of waste, but also because not everyone in the world has the luxury of a fresh meal every night, and there is no reason to throw food away. I particularly enjoyed tonight’s dinner, which consisted of half a chicken wing, two bites of a pork chop, a rice cake, a piece of broccoli, and three M&Ms. Delicious!

I am sure everyone has dealt with this, but I have a lot of neighbors I never knew I had. There are more people on the streets of this subdivision than there are on the interstate from Franklin to Nashville, seemingly at all hours. Who knew it would be so easy to violate social distancing recommendations while walking the dog?

My family always does a friendly bracket contest for the NCAA Tournament, so without that option this year, we started playing, “Guess the number of new Tennessee Coronavirus cases” each day. We have since given up on it, but the winner would pick the family activity that night. But just so you know, we’re not too morbid; we only guessed the new cases, not the number of deaths.

My ten-year-old somehow started watching Little House on the Prairie reruns, and now he is addicted. I will admit it has been a nice throwback to my childhood. You forget how depressing the show is and that there is a death or some other tragedy in every episode (We were worried when my son found the “Plague” episode from season two that we watched in late March, but he handled it pretty well. He even came out of his room yesterday).

I had read my daughter the Laura Ingalls Wilder book series when she was younger, and I found that the actual stories of those books were not quite as exciting as the show. I realized the show is only based on the books, but they might have gone too far with the creative license. For instance a book story about Pa killing a deer because winter is coming and they need food turns into a TV story of a family of circus clowns moving into Walnut Grove and the youngest clown child getting stuck in a well and the whole town getting lanterns and pulling her out. I don’t see how one story led to the other, but the show lasted for nine seasons, so they were doing something right.

A final Little House note (bonus!): the show is set in Minnesota, but it’s basically never cold, everything is always green, the sun always shines, and it’s very mountainous. I have never actually been to Minnesota, but I don’t think that’s how it really looks. … The things you don’t notice as a kid.

On the adult TV front (no, not that kind), if you don’t watch Ozark, you really should. Jason Bateman may be the most underrated actor of our era.

My daughter turned 16 in February, so I bought a car and gave her my old jalopy. Good timing there, David. It is nice to have three cars in the garage/driveway. I don’t think we’ve paid a cent for gas in April.

I am resigned to the fact that I will never be able to pick out a ripe avocado.

Microsoft Word finally got with the times. I feel vindicated (and my secretary feels pissed).

Shoutout to my dishwasher (the appliance, not my wife). It has really been a star of the quarantine show.

I never thought I would see the day where I would say that it would be nice to hear a John Tarpley sneeze.

I will end on a serious note. I know that this entire ordeal has been surreal for all of us, and my heart goes out to small business owners who have and will continue to suffer as a result of the lockdown, as well as to the high school seniors who are missing out on experiences they will never be able to get back. Of course, it also goes out to those who have lost loved ones because of the virus. Without minimizing those issues, I do hope that you have been able to enjoy the time with your family. As a father of three kids who will be out of the house in the blink of an eye, I have tried to cherish the quality time I have gotten with them. So, while I hope this is a one-time thing that we are all going through, it has not been all bad. Unless you hate your family, in which case I’ve got nothing.

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