The Corona Diaries: Day 1. I Stay Home.
by
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Local supermarket, my last shopping trip. The store is packed, but the shelves are empty. I spy the last jar of La Vieja Fábrica apricot jam on the shelf. It’s mine. As I stride forwards to grasp it, a beautiful lady flies in without even touching the ground, and her passion-red fingernails clutch the other side of the jar. Our eyes meet with a longing that is only experienced by two souls that have met hanging from the same jar of La Vieja Fábrica jam. I take a step back, showing her my open hands, like Sergio Ramos when he has just taken a cheeky penalty:

“Excuse me, miss. It’s all yours, all yours.”

She looks at me with her bright green eyes, barely 30 joyful years old. I look back at her with the glazed over, bloodshot eyes of a sleepless hypochondriac. She hesitates. She steps back:

“Excuse me, sir. You had it first. It’s all yours.”

“Absolutely not, miss,” I interrupt. “I came speeding down the aisle in the wrong direction from the domestic hygiene section. I acquired it illegally. It’s only fair you have it.”

“Don’t worry, sir,” she insists with a smile, “I can have toast with olive oil and tomato for breakfast. I like it just as much.”

Then, taking a deep breath, I take the jam jar solemnly and hug it against my chest, looking straight at the lady as she looms over me, balanced on two very high heels:

“Miss, Spain is a great nation. Take this jar of apricot jam. You’ll need it. Take it and tell your children that today you have crossed paths with a fellow countryman. Today, my good woman, I give it to you, for who knows, tomorrow I may need to call on your kindness to return the favour. Strength and honor.”

She takes the jar of jam from my outstretched hands, kisses it, and begins to weep. The whole supermarket explodes in applause.

After placing it delicately in her basket, the girl lunges forward to give me a hug. With lightning reflexes, I lean back, Matrix style, and use my feet to block her advance, without realizing that the neighbor from 9A, who incidentally hates me, is passing by at that very instant. As my toe cap connected with his shin, I’m told his scream could be heard all the way over in the Band-Aids section.

The bastard neighbor happens to be holding a pineapple. He lobs it at my head without any thought for the virus. I duck, and the pineapple flies straight into the grocer’s side. He, in a frightful outburst, hurls a handful of strawberries, one of which ends up in the mouth of the apricot jam lady, in a clean but reckless three-pointer, which Health and Safety would not have approved of under any circumstances.

As the battle rages in the grocery section, I crawl out of the supermarket. It seems obvious that people here need to release some adrenaline. As for me, when I get home, I plunge into a bathtub of homemade disinfectant gel. Some YouTuber showed me how to make it, and it’s not half bad, because as well as disinfecting, it makes my skin swollen and red like a baboon’s ass, which has in turn resulted in the propagation of the rumor that I have caught a skin-affecting variety of the coronavirus, so no one comes knocking on my door at three in the morning, asking for flour.

At home — seven locks on the door and an anti-personnel mine under the mat — I put my shopping away and “take” the garbage out. As a precaution, since last night I have been throwing it from my balcony into the courtyard to avoid going down to the street, as per my understanding of the municipal ordinances, which I speed read. As for the garbage dump that is forming in the yard, it’s time the neighbors pulled together for once: we want a recycling plant in the fat man in 1A’s living room, now!

Unfortunately, the supermarket only had icy spring–perfumed garbage bags. As soon as I open one of them, a glacial mist penetrates my nostrils, slipping through all my antivirus Checkpoint Charlies. My eyes water, and I sneeze so hard that I wouldn’t be surprised if I sent the Earth’s rotation off by a couple of degrees. The gym teacher upstairs springs up, shouting through the floorboards:

“THAT INSIDE ELBOW, DIAZ!”

How does that psycho know that I didn’t have time to sneeze like the WHO says? What stress!

These are strange times. Seeing as I have nothing else to do, since my confinement began I’ve tried to spend more time cooking. Today, for example, I opened the frozen pizza box with my arms tied behind my back. It took me a whole two hours to make dinner.

Sometimes, between loneliness and silence, I wonder how the apricot jam lady’s doing. I tell myself she’s eating it now and that it’s the only thing keeping her from starving to death. I feel like a good citizen. And like all good citizens, I have 600 rolls of toilet paper stashed in a cupboard. If you could pass me your secret recipe for toilet paper stew, I’d be very grateful.

Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist, and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, the Federalist, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, as well as a columnist at Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website www.itxudiaz.com.

Translated by Joel Dalmau

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