At the beginning of this pandemic, while others were stocking up on toilet paper and paper towels, Nurse Judy, my frivolous alter ego and I were stocking up on groceries (me) and lacey embroidered face masks (her).
I had the advantage since groceries were far easier to find than fancy masks.
Somehow, I thought that I would never be able to go to a store again. I tried to order groceries online but found that unsatisfactory. I then began going to the supermarket as safely as I could and as often as I could, filling my cart to overflowing.
Also, since the banks were closed, I took out the maximum amount of money allowed to be given as change.
This meant that I soon had a depleted checking account and an overstocked kitchen.
I have continued this practice throughout this entire sad period in our history. My small freezer drawer was so overfilled, it didn’t shut properly and the ice bin was filled with food instead of ice.
Something had to be done, so I began removing roasts, steaks, vegetables, and fruits and slow cooked huge amounts of them so I could get more into the freezer.
Since Nurse Judy eats like a bird and Beebe does not eat people’s food, I was the only one trying to consume these huge meals; I love to eat but even I could not consume all I was cooking.
After two or three days of the same food each day, I began to lose interest in it but I also didn’t want to throw it out. There are people who are hungry, but in the age of social distancing, it is also difficult to give it away (then again, maybe people just didn’t trust my cooking).
There was nothing to do but stop buying frozen foods.
Of course, that only solved half the problem. Instead of frozen items, I now bulk-purchased canned and non-perishable goods. Although I had never run out of milk, I feared the day could come when there would be no lactose-free milk left in the stores, so I began stocking up on almond, coconut, and other types of milk that do not require refrigeration and are known to have a long shelf life.
Any non-perishable two-for-one deals were never passed up, even though they were nothing I would ordinarily buy. I bought bottled water by the case even though my faucets were working fine.
My worst habit was buying canned goods. They have a long shelf life and I loaded my cart with them. I bought anything in a bottle or can that could be stored in a cupboard.
I have a large kitchen with lots of cupboards, but I always have had lots of food. My pantry is pretty small and I soon had filled every nook or cranny, so that I had to stuff excess goods around the hot water tank and the vacuums and sweepers in the laundry room.
Pounds of coffee was stored in a canister in the guest room closet. My house was beginning to look like a food warehouse.
But then, it got worse.
Opening cabinet doors was hazardous. They were so overstuffed that items would fly out. If the items were stored in glass jars, they’d often smash on the kitchen floor. That was bad because I’d have to clean up the mess, but I also felt a bit of relief because it gave me a tiny bit more space.
Another problem soon reared its ugly head. Because my cupboards were stuffed with cans three and four layers deep, it was almost impossible to find something. I would be in the midst of a recipe and not be able to find a particular ingredient.
As I searched, flying objects from the cupboards would be landing all around me until, completely discouraged and shell-shocked, I would mask up, get in my car and drive somewhere to purchase whatever it was I needed.
Last weekend I came to the conclusion that all this hoarding had to stop. I had no money and was losing my home under cases of canned goods. My girth had increased to the point I was puffing.
I began a week long mission to try and dig out of this mess. I started sorting things according to category.
I had five jugs of honey. I like a little honey in my tea but how long would it take me to use five jugs of it? Luckily honey lasts.
It wasn’t just honey, though; I had duplicates, triplicates, or more of everything. I found things I didn’t know what they were for. I found things I had been hunting for months.
When I began checking dates, I found that over half of these supplies were out of date. Is there anywhere you can donate out of date goods? I’ve packed them up in boxes but think they need to go to the dump. I’m so pudgy now, I fear I won’t be able to even get them to the curb.
I complain about all this to Nurse Judy. She isn’t listening. “Look what I found on the computer,” she says. “Here’s a site where you can get all kinds of fancy clothes with matching face masks. Look at this lace jacket with a flamingo on the back and the little mask covered with flamingos that goes with it.”
I show her the packed closet and my empty wallet.
“It’ll be a while,” I say.
Still, by the time I’ve built up my bank account again, I may lose some of this excess poundage and be able to get a couple of these outfits for me also. They are really cute.
“We’ll only buy them sparingly,” I say.
Nurse Judy looks at me and winks.
“Sure,” she says.