THEY TOLD ME TO WEAR A MASK observations by Kent Brasloff

Editor's Note: This column is a new feature for the Chapter newsletter, to share experiences from our members as they cope with work and life during the Pandemic. If you'd like to share your own experience, email

They told me to wear a mask. They told me to wear gloves. They told me to self-isolate.

So here I sit in my apartment like Rapunzel, or the princes in the tower, hoping not to shave my head in a fit of pique or be bumped off by family members who have tired of my irritating quirks.

I’ve binged-watched Schitt’$ Creek, revisited Downton Abbey, torn through Tiger King like a cat’s claws in expired Walmart meat and desperately tried to save Belgravia for a time—not too distant—when there won’t be any new programming! I failed, and find myself intrigued.

In the frenzy of grocery shopping—which now takes a minimum of two hours—I buy anything I can find, at any price. There was no flour to be had in Washington Heights for 30 days. When I did find it, I bought two sacks. I have no idea what it cost! I am the butcher’s new best friend because I don’t ask “how much?”; I say, “I’ll take it!” At the gourmet shop I eagerly nod my head when offered imported cheese or chocolate carried down a mountain on the back of a virgin because you never know when you might get it again. It’s like sex after 50!

I’ve rooted through old recipes, throwing out rather “meh” ones like that Goat Cheese Cake with gelatin that I never made, the 101 Things You Can Do with Chestnuts compendium, and one for Crunchy Fried Bat (kidding!!!!).

I found a few forgotten gems too: Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Chips, Apricot-Blue Cheese Flatbread, Glazed Carrots with Grapes & Walnuts and a yummy Citrus Grilled Snapper with Lime Rice!

The way I’ve been eating, you’d think I was going to the chair! And I am. From the couch to the chair to the bed to the table. What else is there to do when you’re locked in during a global pandemic?

I’ve certainly noticed the cracks in my 11-foot cove ceilings; and that my bed pillows are suddenly very lumpy. The sofa needs reupholstering (it was last done in 1964) and the gilded chandelier in my kitchen could use a de-“Havisham”-ing.

I haven’t talked this much on the phone since I was a gum-snapping teen with a mean eye-roll! Friends, cousins, my mother every day. I’m even answering sales calls to keep from being bored and can tell you how much it will cost to re-roof your house, have your teeth straightened or get your car detailed with a “diamond” polish; but I drew the line when a “researcher” called to ask about my thoughts on Coronavirus and her first question was “for what party do you typically vote? How do you identify yourself?” Click.

I’ve attended Zoom meetings, Zoom cocktail parties and even a Zoom Seder, now known as a “Zeder.”

Trying to set up some kind of productive “schedule,” I set a goal of accomplishing three tasks per day. This could be as simple as emptying the garbage, bathing and mopping the kitchen floor; or it could take more complex focus like researching the CARE grant or writing this article. Once done, I was free to rot my brains on The View or stare out the window and contemplate life.

One of those contemplations included the consideration that perhaps in our over-achieving world, this time-out was a free pass to accomplish nothing at all. Perhaps it’s just a time to heal, re-charge and re-think life (and what’s important) in the 21st Century?

For me and mine, we’ll take the slow path for now and emerge from our Coronavirus Cocoon in time, one hopes, for the sparkle of the Glorious Fourth. For those who can’t manage that, I say, have a cocktail. It’s Fabuloso!

—Kent Brasloff, Sponsorship Chair, Manhattan Chapter

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