Living Your Best Life Without Ever Leaving Your House for Any Reason

My name used to be Anna. Now it’s Mamahoney. You can call me Mama, or Honey, or Mamahoney (but not Honeymama: Honeymama was my mother’s name). Honestly, I’ll probably respond to any combination of these sobriquets because the sooner I do the faster I can get back to this Jim Butcher wizard mystery I’m reading. And I really want to get back to it because it takes place in another city, which is not anywhere in my house. In fact, not one part of this fantastic story about how a handsome, middle-aged wizard solves supernatural crimes whilst single-parenting a daughter and negotiating the perilous political landscape of the supernatural world’s equivalent of the United States Senate (if it were diverse and cared about anyone) — not one single page — takes place in my house. Amazing!

I, like many of you (or a couple of you if you’re college-aged and reading this in Texas or Florida), have not been out much in the past five months. For nigh half a year, I, my partner, and our loin fruit have confined ourselves nearly entirely to our house. Our house, in case you’re curious, is 1,000 square feet of space, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and very nice original woodwork. It’s decorated just how we want it, and doesn’t resemble an oubliette in any way, save one — the fact that we cannot leave it. This has made us all a little barmy. And not in the cute, eccentrically quirky way, like we’ll take up painting with dark chocolate or bat guano or something. More in a Grey-Gardens-meets-Biosphere kind of way.

Up until this very experience, I’ve often fantasized about being the scientist Robinson family, in the Lost in Space series, catapulting from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy, spending quality time together while learning about the universe and each other. But now I realize the food replicator would definitely run out of salt, or some shit, and Will and Judy would be fighting about who’s cabin was bigger, and everyone would be able to hear mom and dad having sex, because the children’s hearing has grown acute in isolation, some kind of COVID cognitive reserve, and they can hear gossip about the neighbors even if you’re whispering, and they have noise-canceling headphones on. It’s fine if you bought them noise-canceling headphones, by the way. It’s fine if they’ve watched all three Lord of the Rings movies, today. It’s fine if they’re eating cold hotdogs as snacks, taking showers only on the full moon, and sleeping in their Halloween costumes. If I’ve learned anything in these past few months, it’s that we’re all really just one space worm in the gas tank away from lighting the whole fucking thing on fire and living in the smoking ruins like angry goblins. (But on Vega 947, or something.)

So now, I don’t fantasize about being the space Robinsons, nor do I fantasize even about being the tanned and attractive island Robsinsons. I fantasize about going to the bathroom in complete silence and privacy. About attending to my basic bodily functions without a single discussion of who has been playing Roblox on the one Roblox-paying device the longest. I’ve never needed that information to poop before, and I don’t need it now.

I fantasize about not interrogating my children’s friends’ parents about their whereabouts prior to playdates, like some idiosyncratically jealous boyfriend. Conversations with other parents to coordinate socially-distant playdates have become more complex than arranging a marriage or negotiating the release of a hostage. I just want to talk about the weather, or your new balayage treatment. May I never again know the last time you’ve been coughed upon by some decrepit dickear pillock in the line at Super One, amen.

A guy drove by my house the other day, with his windows down, audibly coughing, and I shit you not, it felt akin to hearing a distant gunshot. A drive-by coughing, if you will. Things have gotten so weird. For example, I’ve come to view elevators as levitating, hermetically-sealed, chambers of death, and have a deep and near-instinctual scandal-response to the sight of anyone’s lower face parts, like some confused and distorted Victorian doctrinaire asshole. When really, I’m just your run-of-the-mill modern asshole.

So, if you’ve taken up smoking Winston Golds behind the shed in your backyard and staring directly into the shining, black, lifeless eyes of your neighbor’s dog, I want you to know that I see you. The world is on fire. If you’ve been thinking of lighting your lawn on fire, rather than mowing it, it makes a kind of crude but elegant sense. (Don’t do it, of course — it’s full of earwigs, and we don’t know what those are for, yet.) If you feel like sitting criss-cross applesauce on the front lawn and eating an entire package of Double-Stuffed Oreos while flipping off any passing cars, huzzah. Godspeed. You’ll get no side-eye from me.

Now is not the time to split hairs, unless they’re the hairs on your partner’s head, and need splitting, then by all means, give that person the worst haircut of their entire life, and do it with all the love in your heart, and a bra full of tiny, sliver-like hair clippings. Now is the time to accept that the things we used to do to stop ourselves getting into screaming matches with the clothes dryer or peeing out the window of a moving vehicle aren’t options anymore. We have to get creative, and the only supplies are located inside our house. The United States has become the world’s largest and shittiest escape room, and I’m not going to harsh your mellow because you need to eat refried beans from the can while binge-watching Wynonna Earp. I understand. I’m stuck here, too. I’m your biggest fan. I’ll be the one applauding your efforts from right behind the shed, where I am imagining a world free of coronavirus, full of attractive wizards with hearts of gold, who only want what we all want: to feed you pancakes and stop an army of darkness (and vampires and fae) from upsetting the balance of good and evil in the world.



about 4 years ago

I read pretty much this entire thing out loud to my partner while we laughed. Angry goblins indeed.

Bill Nash

about 4 years ago

To be brutally honest (a practice in which I indulge far more often than inspires popularity) I don't often read the Saturday Essays. Mostly because I have a diminished attention span. But when I do happen to light on them, I am much more inclined to read them if they are written by Anna Tennis, and have yet to be disappointed. I enjoyed this one as well. Thank you, Anna, for your talent, your skill, and your ability to both entertain and make me think.


about 4 years ago

Hi Anna,

I loved this essay. What's with the earwigs this year? And where have the squirrels gone? In the Wild Garden of our backyard, chipmunks have replaced the rats. Which is good.

Anyway, it sounds like you've felt some fear these past months. Fear is bad for the immune system, as is isolation. So I'd like to invite you and whatever spawn latches onto your shirt as you try to leave to come to our house, sit on our deck with the earwigs and chipmunks, and I'll share why there's no need to fear. I'll use statistics and science to make my point. Also, philosophy. But mostly science. Our kids can mingle.

So, that's all. All the best.


Helmut Flaag

about 4 years ago

OK, but fear and pain also exist for a reason. In ideal circumstances they help us prevent death. With the science shaming and non-response at the federal level -- by the Deuce of Hazzard, Americans are getting a good dose of what happens when a government that could do a lot, does little. Or worse, responds at the behest of its own self interests while sacrificing about a quarter of a million of its own people -- all for an engorged clown of a sociopath's greed schemes. Dragging the country through what we're now all enduring. A pandemic that could've been mitigated had the proper course of actions occurred. Let's take a look a what vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez has to say ...  

Hotez, who has long rejected and contested the anti-vaccine movement, noted how Russian intelligence officers have reportedly been part of a disinformation campaign to sow doubt about vaccines in development for the virus. Anti-science campaigners were fueling further deaths with their stances against social distancing and the wearing of face masks to mitigate its spread, Hotez argued. He warned the White House will step up its attacks on scientists, as it did with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has countered the government’s narrative on the crisis. “So, put your tray-table up in the upright and locked position. It’s going to be a very tough fall, I’m afraid,” said Hotez. The coronavirus could still be contained, Hotez claimed, but that would require “leadership at the federal level, and there was never an interest or curiosity for the federal government to lead this,” a reference to Trump’s passing of the buck to governors. The White House’s failure to properly advocate for face masks, support contact tracing and introduce more lockdowns to quell outbreaks “is why we have the world’s worst COVID-19 epidemic and it’s still growing,” he said. Trump for months downplayed the risk of the illness and later pushed for the premature reopening of schools and businesses, which many pundits claim was a ploy to get the economy back on track ahead of the 2020 election. “Sometimes we talk about it as though it’s the past and the worst is over. The worst is yet to come,” Hotez concluded. “We’re going to double the number of deaths over the next few months and now we know it’s not just deaths. We’re seeing long-term injury to the lungs, to the vascular system, to the heart, neurologic deficits, cognitive deficits. This will plague the country for years and years, even after vaccines are out and we get people vaccinated.”
After all the BS they've already endured, our frail and aging loved ones are going to be dealing with this for the rest of their lives in one way or another, having to wear face masks in public from here on out, in large part because some refuse to vaccinate. So, if that's not good old-fashioned nightmare fuel, then I don't know what is.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Read previous post:
Selective Focus: Thomas Spence

Thomas Spence's photos of the landscapes and wildlife of the North Shore have been published and featured in regional and...