Nfld. & Labrador·Humour

Yesterday's pyjamas and odd socks: Revisit Lorenzo Peterson's pandemic diary, now with Omicron!

Columnist Ed Riche checks back in with Lorenzo Peterson, a high school drama teacher living in St. John's documenting his struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic in his diary.
'One thing I have learned in this pandemic is that truly odd socks, ones differing not just in colour but in thickness, texture and height on the calf can be as crazy-making as a poison ivy itch', writes Lorenzo Peterson. (Submitted by Allan Bradbury)

Originally from Ontario, Lorenzo Peterson is a high school drama teacher living in St. John's.

Dec. 31 — I read bird flu has been discovered in Newfoundland and nearly have a panic attack until I realize this means "avian influenza" and not an affliction of male homo sapiens. Heavens, I am on my last nerve. Barbara says I am regressing to the state of an eight-year-old.

Jan. 1 — So Haggie has the COVID. I suppose he simply couldn't take the sustained pressure and ran screaming from his secret rapid test warehouse to lick all the shopping carts he could find. With the inevitability of contracting this latest variant I wondered, aloud, if I shouldn't just charge out there and get Omicroned. Barbara agreed and said if it took her having sex with innumerable strangers she was with me. I told her she was rather overstating my argument.

Jan. 3 — Once again nothing accomplished until I hear the case numbers announced at 3:30. Pacing and drinking gallons of tea in a constant state of apprehension and then, when they announce how many new cases there are I don't know whether to be more alarmed or relieved. Between COVID and the weather forecast I'm going to be undone by "warn porn."

Barbara so strong and fit now from all her online workouts she has become a rather menacing presence around the house. She claims those are vitamins she keeps gobbling down, to strengthen her immune system, but could she be juicing?

Jan. 5 — Thanks to Peter Cowan's Twitter account Barbara and I have secured appointments for our boosters! I read another scientist asserting the Omicron wave signals the end of the pandemic. I hope this is true because fact of it is I am going bonkers from this experience.

Trying to teach high school drama virtually has caused me permanent mental injury. There is the constant need for reassurance in the face of all this anxiety, "Stay strong," "Everybody hurts," "We'll get through this together," "One day at a time." "Hold fast, Teach!" It's nice to know my students get how hard I'm finding this and that they care enough to send the messages of support.

Read that deliberately catching Omicron to get it over with is a very bad idea. Report this to Barbara who seems disappointed.

Jan. 8 — Barbara says I have given up and I must pull up my socks. I reply that lockdown is proving emotionally unbearable and I may be having a breakdown. She clarifies that she is talking about my actual socks, which have slid down and now flap off the end of my feet like limp flippers. Hoisting the hose I see they are odd. This is what happens when one doesn't have to keep up appearances. You find yourself unshaven, in yesterday's pyjama bottoms and odd socks.

One thing I have learned in this pandemic is that truly odd socks, ones differing not just in colour but in thickness, texture and height on the calf can be as crazy-making as a poison ivy itch, only more stealthy in effect, making you mad before you see the madness coming. Actually, this is the only thing I have learned during the pandemic. Time for a wittle cwy.

Jan. 10 — Hulking Barbara — fresh from her online boxercise, redolent of pheromones — has challenged me to an arm wrestle. I decline, for obvious reasons. But off for our boosters!

Jan. 11 — Pounding headache, dry throat, guts boiled. Is this a reaction to the booster? Is it COVID? Barbara, abstemious during her search for physical perfection, says it is a hangover from my having celebrated getting my third jab with several experimental tequila-based cocktails so that I was snoring through the night. I sniff my trusty pocket onion. Sense of smell intact. Barbara's diagnosis likely accurate.

Jan. 13 — An unwelcome feature of both Barbara and I working from home is we occasionally overhear one another plying their trade online. Barbara wonders if I don't find teaching drama embarrassing and whether training kids for an unstable professional life in penury is responsible. I marvel at the cruelty of her job at Canada Revenue Agency, which sounds to me like shaking down small business owners with veiled threats.

Jan. 15 — Told to be mindful, not fearful, but honestly, for the longest time, putting my mind to COVID scared the poop out of me. But a breakthrough today as I awake and begin thinking immediately of breakfast, not the pandemic.

I get out of bed without waking Barbara and when she arises to find her morning triple espresso on her night stand she is delighted. I resolve to accept our situation; it's not the siege of Leningrad but a temporary lockdown, a sentence of house arrest. I can face this.

I accept Barbara's challenge and win five out of 12 arm wrestles. We agree to celebrate by cooking a lovely supper together, Barbara saying she will even allow herself a glass or two of wine.

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Edward Riche

Freelance contributor

Edward Riche writes for the page, stage and screen. He lives in St. John's.