I was on the front porch when you drove by, holding a bag of green beans.
While my friends think huge thoughts about Black Lives Matter and Hong Kong and the future of public statues, I am thinking about these green beans I purchased to go with my broiled salmon — why am I thinking to put them in a colander and wash them? They’re from Howard Family Farm here in Iredell County. Why wash Howard off of them with Statesville tap water? Once you start worrying about the cleanliness of green beans, you’re on the way to distrusting the Pure Food and Drug Act and believing that socialists in the FDA are spraying farm produce with Zoloft to suppress clear thoughts, and soon you’ll purchase an automatic rifle for when anarchy sweeps the land and your neighbors will start to think “ 911” every time you step outdoors. So, I don’t wash the green beans. Problem solved.
There is a time and place for cleanliness, like now in our neighborhood.
We don’t allow junkiness, but believe that mowed lawns, trimmed shrubbery, and clean streets bring out the inherent goodness in people. Cleanliness is next to godliness per my mother, aunts, and grandmothers. Men may torch and damage city buildings and shout, but it will be women who have the last word, you can bet on it.
Months of quarantine have taught me this.
We’ve been isolating in our townhouse so my wife has become vigilant against squalor. She holds up a shirt she finds on a kitchen bar stool. The shirt is large and the front pocket contains my favorite Pilot G-2 black ink pin. “Who does this belong to?” she asks, determined to hold my feet to the fire.
My wife knows that I, like men everywhere, have latent college dormitory tendencies.
I leave something where it doesn’t belong — — dirty socks on the couch — — and minutes later you’ve got newspapers around the toilet, pizza boxes on the bed, a truck up on cinder blocks in the front yard, and a rusted washing machine sitting in tall grass. Without a woman to hold up the socks and say “Is this yours?” life as we know it is over — — goodbye Internet and Amazon, you’re back to handprints on cave walls.
Women are practical. Men are hunters. Hand me a club and I’ll bring home a gazelle, skin it, and cook it over a fire. But my wife champions moderation — — veggies, fruit, and portions of protein. My meat ration has been cut in half. I once traveled for business and awoke in hotels, having called my breakfast order in before going to bed, and at morning the waiter comes with coffee, toast, six sausage links, and four fried eggs. A meal that ensures the strength to go out and take on an entire boatload of Vikings.
Now in my quarantine cell it’s cereal or boiled eggs, and some blueberries. We have supplies of tomatoes, onions, and green leafy things favored by rabbits.
“It’s for our own good,” she says, and what irritates me is, she’s right.
But marriage takes two.
Recently we were on our deck and saw a large long snake slithering through the grass. She became anxious and looked to me for manly protection, though I know less about herpetology than the average Roman galley slave, I put my arm around her and said “It’s a harmless black snake. See, it’s leaving our yard”.
And that makes quarantine bearable. At times, we get to pull each other close. Honestly, it’s a pretty good deal.
Readers can write to Joe at Joehudsn@gmail.com and Facebook (View from the Hudson). He is author of “Big Decisions are Best Made with Hot Dogs”
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