How’s Your Quarantine Going? Learned Lessons Through Day 5 of the Lockdown

My wife and I have totally different versions of the ideal quarantine.

Me:  “This wouldn’t be so bad without kids.  The two of us with lots of wine and movies.”

My wife:  “Oh I was thinking:  Me, all alone, in silence, and lots of sleep.”

I would suck at Real World

I’m trapped in my home with my best friend and three people I fathered and we are ready to kill each other.  No way could I survive being confined in a house with fourteen strangers.

Before the virus I was a closet hoarder and didn’t know it.

As a guy who shops at Costco on a weekly basis, I was already warehousing food and supplies well before the virus hit, but I didn’t know I was a hoarder.  Once the quarantine started, I realized we have enough food to carry us for at least three weeks before we dip into my 150 cans of sardines (which I bought the limit when they were on sale about two months ago).

People have way too much free time.

I now realize most of my time spent during the weekends before the lock down was busy work, and not really adding much to the overall betterment of my life. It was really an elaborate time suck masked as productivity.  No one needs to go to Costco once a week.


Booze is a great crutch.

I went from drinking a bottle of wine a week before ’28 Days Later’ to two snifters of whisky a night.

We waste a lot of food. 

Nothing says America like arranging leftovers in a Tupperware container for the next night’s dinner then throwing it out the following day, because you don’t have a taste for day-old meatloaf.  Now we eat the leftovers, because martial law will be here any day and you need to conserve food like the rest of the world has done for years.

It takes a village (because your house is too small)

Our house is big enough for everyone in the family to have two rooms to themselves. Somehow we all end up in the same room yelling louder than the next person about who didn’t wash their hands.

There is a thing as too much news.

Two decades ago your only source of current events was the evening news. You only thought the world was ending once a day.  Now I’m getting neck cramps as I re-read some internet article after doing the same google search, “Will coronavirus kill me?” multiple times a day.

All those things I said I would do if I could ever got the chance to be locked in my home are still not getting done. 

Cleaning the garage, starting a book, and parting out a car for fun are going to have to wait for the next global shelter in place.

My kids really annoy me, but I probably annoy them more.

You know what I’m talking about.

I Am Your Dealer

Play time stopped when we found a glossy picture of a naked woman splayed on a satin bed sheet in a seductive stance.

In fourth grade the swing set was passé.  We lacked the physical strength to launch a basketball over a ten-foot rim.  Our only option for entertaining ourselves was jumping over the fence behind the park and pretending we were a special ops S.E.A.L. team inserted deep into Viet Cong jungle country with only a machete. 

“Boobs!” Lou yelled as we starred at our first naked woman.  The paper had been through at least one rain leaving it frail, but the full glory of its image was in plain sight.

“There has to be more,” I said as a raised my $4.99 mail-order machete ready to hack my way through the forest to find more nudie pics.

“Here’s another one,” Lou said holding up another crumbled trophy.

“What is he doing to that woman?”

“Why would you ever put that…there?”

“Gross…. Let’s find some more”

Shreds of porn were discovered as we transitioned from children to perverts.  We came across a narrow creek and a duck blind.

“I bet someone lives there.”

“Lou, go check out.”

“No way.  What if he lures kids to his home with these pictures then he grabs the kids and sells them to parents who want to replace their own kids with other kids?”

“If he grabs me, I’ll cut him,” I said raising my dull machete.

A noise rustled from the guy’s hideout.  We screamed in fear and bolted to safety of network TV and Legos.

After dinner, I snuck to my room to sift through my stash of tits, ass, and dudes with outsized cranks.  I came across a subscription postcard to Playboy magazine.  I filled it out:

✔ BILL ME LATER

The next day I dropped it in the mail.

A couple of weeks later I came home from school to find the newest edition of Playboy magazine sitting on my kitchen table.

“You order Playboy now?” my dad asked.

“Yes,” I said hoping my confident tone would deflect any mischievous behavior, “I’m going to sell it at school.”

“Great idea,” my dad said.  Never in this teachable moment did he talk to me about the difference between boys and girls, explain women are not objects, or the downsides of gonorrhea.  Instead, this lecture would be saved for my wedding day some twenty years later when we were on the dance floor and he said, “It’s time I tell you where babies come from.”

My mother said nothing.

I priced my product at five dollars, a dollar over the retail sticker.  The magazine was turned into cash before the morning bell.

Econ 101:  Scarcity drives demand

Over the next month, I was bugging my parents if they had seen the invoice from my supplier.  My customers pursued me for more magazines.  I knew I hit gold with this venture.  Maybe I could order two subscriptions simultaneously? 

Years later, my dad told me as soon as the black plastic wrapped magazine showed up, my mother was writing letters to Hugh Hefner:

DEAR PLAYBOY CUSTOMER RELATIONS:

YOU ARE SENDING A MINOR YOUR GRATUITOUS MAGAZINE.  DISTRIBUTION OF PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIAL TO A CHILD IS A FEDERAL OFFENSE AND I DEMAND YOU CANCEL THIS SUBSCRIPTION IMMEDIATELY.

Two more magazines arrived in subsequent months.  Twelve issues cost eighteen dollars, so I needed four sales to put me in the black for the year.

I was playground rich.  With an annuity stream like this, who needed fifth grade?

What Econ 101 doesn’t teach you:  Perpetuity is a term coined by academics who live in a bubble where models rule and your mom isn’t trying to kill your thriving wealth and undermine your business acumen. 

The invoice never arrived.

My supply was extinguished, customers were mad, revenues stalled at fifteen dollars, and fifth grade for me was certain.  After some deep thought, I realized I needed to change my course of action to reach financial independence. 

I recruited Lou and we charged into the woods.

The pedophile had been active scattering more material over the last couple of months.  Maybe I could sell the scraps for $.25 each—too many transactions at a low cost per sale.  What about a porn safari where I could lead groups of kids deep into the jungle?  This would require waivers plus I might have to answer to parents when Little Billy is kidnapped by the pedophile-too much in the way of logistics and potential unwanted media exposure.  Then I found my answer on a torn porn page, “Get your free video of Who Shaved Ajay? only $4.99 to cover shipping and handling”.  I stuffed the page into my pocket and told Lou the mission was a failure. 

At night, I pulled out the same typewriter used to kill my magazine business and wrote:

DEAR SIR:

I WOULD LIKE TO ORDER 1 [ONE] COPY OF WHO SHAVED AJAY? ON VHS.  I UNDERSTAND THE BETA VERSION IS ALSO AVAILABLE, BUT I PREFER THE HIGH QUALITY OF VHS TO BETA.  ENCLOSED IS A MONEY ORDER FOR $4.99.

SINCERELY,

THE HOMEOWNER AT…

The next day, with letter in hand, I rode my bike to the currency exchange and purchased my money order.  The clerk knew me from past purchases of machetes, nunchakus, Chinese stars, and butterfly knives from the U.S. Cavalry “Many Missions, One Source” catalog, so he didn’t question me when I had him make the money order out to Sin City Distribution.

The wait began.

I couldn’t expect my parents’ indifference to nudie magazines to be the same response to videos of real people bumping uglies, so I stalked the mailbox.

I was banking on a Saturday delivery when I could intercept the mailman before he reached the front door, because my dad usually grabbed the mail during the week when I was at school.  While waiting, never did I ask my parents: “Did you grab the mail?” or “Anyone open a package with a skin flick called Who Shaved Ajay?”  Figuring I had a one in six shot of clean drop off, the odds were not in my favor.

I was in the front yard on Saturday when the postman handed me an ostentatious brown package.  I didn’t have to read the address label.  I landed the product.

The rest of the mail was discarded on the kitchen table as I bounded up to my room to tear into the package. 

There was Ajay—getting shaved on the cover of the VHS box.  I said a quick pray to Ben Franklin for creating the US Postal Service enabling a poor suburban kid like myself to earn a decent buck by running a porn distribution network helping the under served market of grade schoolers.

I was the Porn King of Elementary School

At the next opportune time, I burned the movie packaging in the fireplace leaving no evidence of my purchase.

Knowing I needed customers, I recruited my second-grade brother to sell tickets: “$.25 to see the movie you’ll remember forever”

We worked out a commission split.  Within a day, I found my brother sprawled out on the couch while Ajay got shaved.  It was as if he was watching the newest Doogie Howser episode and not the raunchiest, low-budget porn ever made. Thinking I was Mom, my brother fumbled with the ‘Off’ button on the remote. 

“You owe me a quarter!” I yelled as a gauntlet of fists wailed on him.  Ajay’s purported screams of ecstasy masked the two of us beating on each other.  After we ran out of energy from fighting, we reached an agreement.  He would get free viewings and I wouldn’t get turned into our parents. 

I realized going into the retail theater business compared to selling product direct to customers was going to present new problems: security at the door, avoiding persecution by parents, cramming up to twenty kids in a room for each show, and getting ‘new features’, like one I had my eye on Yo! We Be Humping IV, on a regular schedule.

The risk wasn’t worth starting a movie theater. 

I sold the tape to a conglomerate of fifth graders because no kid alone could come up with $10.  I knew I left at least $5 on the table, but even running a porn empire has a learning curve.

Egg

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“I’m going to jump!” the woman said as she stood on the parapet of Essex Inn on Michigan avenue.

I lit a Marlboro Red.  This was going to be a one smoke job.  The first pull is the most satisfying, then the exercise becomes a task to completion.  Dispatch sent me here before I could grab lunch.  A smoke tends to quell tension in life.

Either she splatters the spectators on the ground and I go to lunch or she takes the elevator down and I go eat.  It’s a binary outcome for her.  A meal for me.

“You don’t need to do this,” said a union electrician who was working on the roof before the jumper arrived.  I wonder if he needs to report this work stoppage on his time sheet.

I have fifteen years on as a cop. I have a wife, handful of kids-some from the current wife, others from previous relations, and I play pickup basketball once a week at a discounted gym.  I’ll need solid health insurance to combat the lung cancer which will develop due to all the cigarettes wailing away on my torso.  I always bet the under at tourney time.  Yes, I do need to do this.

My partner, a rookie, looks like he is the one on the ledge.  In three years, he will be blasé about the job.  Now he is overwrought and almost catatonic.  This morning he was a kid.  No grey hair and hope in his eyes and heart.  I’m hungry and need to eat.

“I’ll never find love again,” the young, blonde exclaimed.  The electrician responded with words of empathy.

Finding love was easy for me.  Keeping it was another story.  Tracy Pallito ruined me by leading me along for months before my senior year.  I found her ankles up on my parents’ college with Jason Mitira.  After, it was a swirlee of unrequited sex.  Very unstable, but enjoyable.  I’m content today.  Tomorrow-maybe.  The day after-I don’t predict the future.

A crowd gathered on the street to watch.  The people will say to their families at dinner tonight, “I saw a jumper today.  She took the stairs down.  What a tragedy to get to that point in life.” Or “I saw a jumper today.  Some of her bile, bone, and blood peppered me like a Jackson Pollock.  What a tragedy to get to that point in life.”

My cigarette was on its sixth puff.  No one sells smokes on the roof of the Essex Inn.

I think my partner pissed himself as the women’s legs started shaking.  If she turns around, she could call me a “pig” and spit on me.

Oh good, a fireman arrived.  Those guys always have a solution.

“Everyone has a bad day.  Tomorrow will be better,” the electrician pleaded with her.

Will tomorrow be better?  Today is going well.  Cloudless sky, nice shot of the lake six hundred feet up, and it’s T-shirt weather while the breeze keeps it from being a furnace.  I like today.  “Today was a good day,” Ice Cube rapped, and he didn’t have to use his AK.  Live in the moment, I guess.  Unless an omelet has your name on it in the future.  Then live for the omelet. 

The fireman rode the elevator down to talk to his supervisor.  He was probably told to hold the jump net, mattress collection, or oversize beach towel to catch her in case she jumps.  I’ve never seen it work.  Good in theory, but more for show.

“I’m going to do it.  I mean it,” she howled at the sky.

The electrician kept saying, “Don’t do it” showing he was out of emotional arguments.  I was ready to throw him over the cornice because he was annoying.

The ash was building on my smoke.  I need to hit the dry cleaners after work to get my suit for Aunt Pam’s third wedding this weekend.  Aunt Pam found love again.  I also need to unclog my second floor toilet, because someone ignored the sign on the wall “ONLY FOUR SHEETS OF TOILET PAPER PER FLUSH”. 

A news helicopter flew above us.  News at Nine or footage to be buried in the archives.  My partner is working on his resignation letter in his mind.  C’mon kid, this is a character builder.  The half of dozen cops behind me are placing bets if she does it.  Last trade I heard was 3:1 and survival wasn’t the favorite.  My stomach growled. 

They stop serving breakfast at Sonny’s at 10:30, and if this doesn’t end soon, my cigarette will be gone, and I’ll miss my ham and onion omelet.

I took a final drag off my Red.  I should really quit smoking, but how would I kill time?  10:10-I can still make it.

The cherry on my cigarette glowed as I flicked it over the parapet distracting her long enough so I could yank her to the side of the living.  We fell to the modified bitumen roof.

“Thank you,” she stammered as cheering rose from the street.  I bet I get a lifesaving award which I can put next to my second-grade t-ball trophy in a landfill in Pontiac, Illinois.  My partner will get a participation trophy.

The electrician resumed working.  The crowd dispersed and the fire department folded up the splash pad so it could be used to thwart the next jumper.  The paramedics wrapped a blanket around her.

I stood.

“Wait,” she said as I took a look at her face.  She was a knock-out.  Someone you could bring home to mom.

“How did you two meet?”

“Church, Mom, we met at church.”

“How do you handle your problems?” her bright blue eyes enhanced by the sun framed her as the poster child for misguided youth.  She sought answers no one could provide.

“Luck is never on my side when I bet, my wife spends more time with the neighbor than me, and my credit card is my bank account.  The only problem I can solve is my starvation,”

I was at the stairs.

“But how do you deal with it all?”  She wanted a more grandiose or epic statement, but I’m one of rudimentary build.

“I sure as shit don’t throw myself off a building.” 

“Lady, you got a smoke?” I asked.

“Uh?”

“You know a cig?”

“Gross!  Those things are bad for you,”

10:30 am.  It was a two cig job.

French Baguettes and Hefty Bags

“I am going to buy a $7,000 purse when we get home,” a companion of lithe, yet athletic, build declared.

Next to me was a pissing Cupid fountain. I was deep in the bowels of the Burgundy region of France. Cupid’s head was encased with a laurel wreath. My Old Navy cargo shorts clashed with the Perscio.

These people were always up for a good rebellion. Her husband gave compliance with silence.  I too was speechless.

What does a multi-thousand-dollar handbag accomplish what a generic cloth bag, or gasp, a doubled Hefty bag cannot do?

I try to subscribe to the idea of “if it costs more, it must be better,” but I am befuddled when it comes to purses.  A purse is designed to serve one primary function and a very minor secondary function.

  1. Carry your crap-this could really be any type of bag
  2. Make you look good while carrying your crap.  This is the secondary function of a handbag.  Decorate a bag in some combination of jewels, sequins, leather, tassels, chains, buckles, exotic leathers, designer’s logos, or pom poms and the primary function of a bag is unaffected.  It still carries all your crap.
Reasonable pricing, efficient, and talked about–everything you want in a purse

As for lugging all your crap, I have noticed the older the woman– the larger and more expensive the purse.  Here is a chart to show a woman’s age, her bag size, and common items found in the bag.

Age of Woman Average Bag Cost Bag Size Bag Material Common Items Found
4-10 Free to $5 Various, but small Pleather Candy, toy money, key to nowhere
11-22 $15-20 Wallet Cloth ID, cash, credit card
23-28 $25-300 Clutch Leather-Black or tan Same as above plus lipstick
29-35 $200-2,000 Able to carry a terrier Leather-Color other than black or tan Same as above plus book “This Is Why You’re Still Single”
36+ $1,500-$300,000 Too large for airplane overhead bin Calf, alligator, crocodile, or ostrich leather with palladium, titanium, or gold hardware–diamonds optional See c)
  • c) Same as above, less the book, plus 2-year old hard candy, 1-AAA battery (dead), receipt from 2015 Ringling Brothers concession stand-one pretzel and one Diet Coke, 8 types of mascara, seventeen pens-some actually work, pacifier-even though youngest child is now 14 years old, cell phone, $14.86 in change of currencies Yen, Euros, Baht, Pesos, decomissioned Rubles, Dong, cell phone declared “lost”, your ex-husband/boyfriend’s underwear, mystery cream with the label worn off, vibrator, expired car registration, a smaller purse which was eaten by this purse, broken whistle, flask of vodka, janitor size key ring, US Weekly magazine (Jennifer Aniston cover), and Band-Aids.

There is a direct correlation between your age and the size and cost of your handbag.  Maybe you carry more crap, so you spend more money on a bigger bag. Maybe you get a bigger bag so you can carry more crap.  This paradox is beyond the scope of this article and way too difficult for my small brain to attempt to unscramble. 

I Want To Be Somebody

I was at a party, but dial back visions of togas, random sex and mounds of drugs.  The woman of honor was turning 80 years old, so the party started after morning meds and ended well before Sundown Syndrome appeared.  I was talking with my brother-in-law who hawks high end watches for a living.  A guy walked in wearing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm 15500ST (MSRP ~$35,000 USD).

“Who’s the guy with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm 15500ST?” my bro-in-law asked.

These two immediately struck up a conversation about the pros and cons of wearing something so rare and exquisite the odds of a common man encountering one are less than being diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and immediately getting a successful organ transplant the following day. 

I can only imagine the people who notice ten thousand-dollar purses are the same people who sell ten thousand-dollar purses.

“I’d like to hit that so I can get a better look at her Hermes crocodile bag with palladium hardware”, said no guy in the history of the world.  Compare this to the internet billionaire who drops $1MM on a Ferrari to get the ladies to sleep with him, only to find they are all obsessed with the hippie who hasn’t showered in a week, lives out of a storage locker, and makes his living playing acoustic versions of pop songs at Pot Belly on his garage-sale-purchased 6-string guitar.

“But It Is an Investment…”

My wife was gifted a multi-generation old Gucci Handbag.  I often hear these designer purses described as “investments” or “good re-sale”.  After planning an all-inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic, I looked up Gucci purses on eBay.  With great haste, I canceled the Caribbean vacation and considered something more appropriate for my soon-to-be windfall:  a bunch of bananas or heavily used baseball glove from the mid-80’s on Craigslist. 

I thought of calling Louis Vuitton for comment, but the phone was on the other side of the room, and I have a general rule I don’t get off the couch after 8 pm-especially performing a tantric deep thought while constructing high level articles such as this.

I thought the time spent doing a comprehensive investigation of purse ideology would enable me to understand what drives women to buy large and/or expensive purses, but I am more confused than before I wrote this article.

To Get Away or Not to Get Away? That is the Question

Special thanks to M.A. for writing our first guest blog post. Lord knows we are hungry for content here at Skiinginjeans, so thanks for stepping up M.A.

It starts before school even gets out for summer.  You may be in the pick-up line for preschool, or waiting at the bus stop for your kids, but inevitably you will start to hear variations on the same theme.  Namely, “what are you doing this summer?”  While this may seem like an innocent enough question, just mom-to-mom small talk, the underlying gist, of course, is “where are you going (translation: how much are you spending) on vacation this summer?” and/or “what camps / enrichment activities are your kids enrolled in?”

While much could be said, and many a blog post have already sufficiently skewered, the myriad options for upper middleclass kids these days – from over -the-top sleepaway camps costing upwards of $10,000 per session, intensive sports training camps for kids (meaning, their parents) dreaming of being the next D1 recruit, or even local or town-subisdized day camps that offer impressive field trips, yoga sessions and sushi making classes, little attention has been paid to the phenomenon of what I call “vacationing en masse.”  In other words, spending your vacation with all of the same people that you spend your day-to-day life with, often in a locale that really isn’t all that different from where you live.  Up and down the East coast, from the suburbs of NY (including coastal CT), all the way to Boston, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone who spends the majority of their summer in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.  In the city (a/k/a Manhattan), it’s the Hamptons or bust.  Sure, some will claim to be cooler or more lowkey by going to Block Island, Shelter Island, or Montauk (which is technically just the Hamptons, but further).   Don’t be fooled:  these are still just summer outposts of the same communities.   And it’s not just an East Coast phenomenon; Midwesterners flock to their Michigan or Lake Geneva “cottages” (often more akin to mansions), southerners to the mountains of North Carolina or the beaches of South Carolina, and Californians, to Malibu.  It’s getting away, without getting away.  Which begs the question, why go at all?

“Jeeves, please arrange a ferry back to deary old Manhattan”

Sure, all of these places are certainly vacation-worthy in a purely objective sense.  They boast beautiful scenery, pristine beaches, gourmet restaurants, a multitude of activities for both the young and the not-so-young.  However, when you consider paying an exorbitant premium for lodging (assuming you were fortuitous enough to book at least 9-12 months in advance), spending hours in gridlock traffic getting there (if, in the case of Nantucket or the Vineyard, you were smart enough to book your ferry well in advance; more on the particular travails of the ferry below), the horrific traffic once you are there, and getting shut out of the aforementioned gourmet restaurants due to the crowds, one starts to wonder what is the point of it all. 

For wardrobe assistance, head to….
https://castawayclothing.com/collections/mens-embroidered-pants

Meet New People?

More than any of this though, the idea of spending precious summer weeks with the same friends and acquaintances you see daily during the other three seasons of the year is mind-boggling.  Maybe it’s because the summer population of these East Coast locales consists largely of finance douches wearing Nantucket red shorts and their Lily Pulitzer clad wives and kids (most of whom are among the most obnoxious residents in my Fairfield County burb), but I cannot fathom the appeal of spending the summer, not to mention tons of money and aggravation, bumping into them left and right on a tiny, congested island or spit of land.  During the summer months, my Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with posts by local acquaintances vacationing on Nantucket, featuring pictures of fellow acquaintances eating dinner together, having cocktails together, hanging at the beach together, getting coffee together, and well, you get the point.  But I certainly don’t. 

Ferries are Fun

In addition to the bizarre reluctance to congregate with anyone outside of their usual  social and/or professional network or venture beyond the comfort zone of a preppy East Coast environment, Nantucket (and Martha’s Vineyard) summer residents also need to make sure they book their ferry reservation months in advance of their planned travel dates.  Horror stories abound in my town of families whose kids do not make it home for the first day of school in late August or early September, because the ferries are all booked.  They are literally stranded “on island” as they say.  Or, you have booked and paid for your overpriced yet still mildewed-smelling and miniscule rental cottage well in advance (as most rentals will require), but you forgot to book your ferry six months in advance, so your lodging sits empty for a few nights while you wake up at 4 am several days in a row hoping to get on a ferry stand-by. 

If this sounds like your dream vacation, you are not alone.  In fact, if you live anywhere along the I-95 corridor in the NY tristate area, you will be surrounded by hordes of your neighbors and others exactly like you.  Just be sure to pack your patience along with your Lily Pulitzer, crab-embroidered pants and Nantucket reds. 

For the finishing touch, definitely leave your $150 “Oversand Vehicle Permit” on your car (or, even better, multiple years’ worth stacked on top of each other), so everyone in town knows where you’ve been. 

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