Here are two facts about alcohol consumption: 1) When times are good, people drink more. 2) When times are bad, people drink more. And wow, do we have circumstances (no need to spell them out) pushing us to fact #2.
Here’s the “twist” that the pandemic has brought to the “mix.” We all had to work with what we had. So, unless you’re like good friends of ours (you know who you are), and in your basement you have a tavern with stupendous wine cellar, you ended up making do. A “drink ‘em if you got ‘em” mentality swept the nation.
So, what have you been drinking?
In our home at the beginning of lockdown, before we eventually ventured out, it was all about what we had in the house. First, we went through our supply of wine. That didn’t take long, as we’re spending lockdown in a ski condo. See also: Not a lotta room for wine storage. Then, we hit the whiskeys. From there, on to vodka and then tequila. Once they were all gone, we started saying things like, “What’s this weird bottle? Who gave us that? Shit, just pour it.” And then, that was gone too.
Of the two of us, Mr. Parker has been the one venturing out to places like the supermarket and the post office. I mostly left the house for hiking remotely. No stores for me. But where was the first enclosed space I went to? You guessed it: the liquor store. It was like going into a sci-fi Candyland. New possibilities! Exciting! But… So many people! Freaking me out!
Now, I’m a straight-liquor drinker. Neat is neat. So for me, stocking up on the basics isn’t complicated. But I’ve had this thought in my head all through COVID: a drink that was introduced to me at a Bourbon tasting in Kentucky. Thank you, Phifer Pavitt winery. They call the drink a Moxie, and it’s a take on a New York Sour. They make a whiskey sour with their new Date Night Bourbon, then pour it into a hefty rocks glass with one large, square ice cube. Then, they add a wine float using one of their stunning Date Night Cabernet Sauvignons. How much has this beverage been on my mind these days? It was the inspiration for The Joy’s joyful cocktail discovery in Careful-ish, her New York sour.
I’ve yet to play mixologist and attempt to make a Moxie at home. I’m afraid of breaking the spell it has over me. What if my mixology doesn’t live up to the stand-out flavor living inside my head? Is it better to remember fondly than to experience my own inadequate version? So, for now, I’ll let The Joy enjoy. I’ll continue dreaming about someone else’s cocktail while I drink what I have on hand. Neat.
And I ask again, what have you been drinking?
Lockdown means we’re all spending a lot more time alone. Unless, of course, you’re quarantining with a house full of kids. But still, there’s more than ample time to do things you might not otherwise do if someone was watching.
So, let’s get embarrassed together.
The characters in Careful-ish make all manner of “self-grooming” choices that they normally wouldn’t. From the ever-popular “digit in the nostril” to digging out dollops of ear wax to be disposed of later, the rules get lax. But what about me? What have I done when I thought no one was looking? Hmm...
It’s almost hard to think of something. It all seems so normal now.
Got it. I spent most of the summer in the same two pairs of shorts. I own two pairs of denim shorts. One is a traditional blue denim, the other is a light-blue, almost white denim. It got to the point where the blue shorts were for every day. The white ones were for fancy. Like, sitting in a neighbor’s back yard.
I’m here to say, those shorts are now really soft.
And how often was I washing them? I don’t think either pair saw the laundry before they’d been out visiting at least four times. Color me proud.
In a similar vein, it has become normal to sleep in a shirt I’ve been wearing during the day. Hey, it’s already on. And will I wear it the next day? Maybe. Well, OK. I do. The surprising thing is that Mr. Parker never mentions it. So, my next question is, did lockdown make him not notice or not care? Or is he doing the same thing? I haven’t noticed.
All this said, I do maintain some degree of dignity. I never take a phone call without wearing a bra. That’s a rule. It’s been a hard and fast policy since I began working from home over a dozen years ago. (Remember those cheery, pre-virus days?) Having the ladies locked and loaded just makes me feel in charge. But maybe, just maybe, my summer-shorts habit also made me feel in charge. It was neither fashionable nor polite, and maybe not even clean. But damn it, it was my choice to make and I made it. And in a time when our choices have become limited, that brings a kind of empowerment.
How about you? What have you done during lockdown that you would normally turn up your nose at? Or at least laughed at?
Cheers to all of our quirky behavior.
First, what is a COVID Rabbit Hole? I’m defining a rabbit hole as a subject that pulls you further and further down a path. A passing obsession. Therefore, a COVID rabbit hole is a passing obsession during COVID. Simple.
During COVID, many of us have found that more time at home has lead us down new, and sometimes helpful rabbit holes. In the book, Careful-sh, Steph binges Call the Midwife. The civility of the show helps her stay calm. For me, one of my rabbit holes started as a similar binge and moved well beyond. Here now, how The Crown got me through part of the COVID crisis.
Like with Steph and Call the Midwife, the show The Crown leads with civility. Something I sorely needed. A calmness. My world felt out of my control in so many ways. Pivoting my business, my mother passing, lockdown… In The Crown, even when there's a nationwide crisis, everyone behaves with a certain level of reserve. The high quality of acting, directing and art direction all work together to reinforce the feeling that you’ve gone someplace civilized. Yes, problems arise, but are handled without raising one’s voice or spilling one’s tea. I could feel my heart rate come down. (Perhaps dangerous for someone with a resting heart rate of 43.)
But once I’d found my place of calm, it became something more. It went far beyond “show bingeing.” More than say, watching an entire season of Mrs. Mazel (also mentioned in the book) in one weekend. I became obsessed with the British Royal family. I’d left bingeing and progressed to craving information. Rabbit hole. What next? I found several documentaries on the House of Windsor. Truly fascinating. I saw different points of view on several of the family’s major players. Were they agents for good? Self-serving? Both? And this look at their characters from multiple angles had me thinking about seeing people in my own life from different angles. None of us are one-sided. And that understanding was also calming. And drew me in further. (NOTE: At this point I was drinking a lot of tea.)
Next step? I took my rabbit hole online. On YouTube, I found documentaries about the origins of the House of Windsor. Back to the family’s roots in Russia. Next, the connection to the Russian czar Nicholas and how he was cousins with King George V. And how King George had offered the czar and his family refuge, but then rescinded his offer, which ultimately led to the family’s death. Okay, perhaps I’d left comfort and civility at that point. That’s where this rabbit hole bottomed out for me. But it took weeks, gave me a focus beyond my own problems, and I learned so much more than I ever did in a high school history class. I also had a new lesson in human behavior.
So, what’s been one of your COVID rabbit hole? I’d love to hear about it.
(My musical COVID rabbit holes include Burt Bacharach and Broadway. But that’s another blog post.)
The password is: YES. Not only is it okay to laugh right now, it’s imperative.
So many of us have been through so much. We have friends in the food service industry who have been though the mill. Will their businesses survive? And if they do, will they still be viable? A good friend who’s a doctor on the front lines shared some of the hardships she's seen. Crazy. Then, there are those of us who’ve lost a parent during COVID. So damn hard.
How do we get through today and on to tomorrow? In our house, we laugh. Mr. Parker and I laugh every day. And not that demonic laugh you hear from the evil scientist in a horror film. Real, “That was damn funny” laughing.
Back in late April, my book-club friends in LA were meeting on a Zoom call and I sat in. My mother had recently passed. Lockdown made it impossible to have a funeral, or for me to be with my father. So, getting on a call with these fantastic women and laughing (yes, cocktails were involved) made me feel like myself again. My favorite part of myself, in fact. We all laughed so hard we cried. It was cleansing and positive and a gift. Let me be clear, I had no delusions that everything in my life would now be fixed. But it gave me the energy to press on.
Since then, each moment of laughter has helped me cope. That, and writing Careful-ish. Writing this book was like having an internal gyroscope that kept me upright. And once the characters started to develop and write jokes for themselves, I was even more energized.
So, I say yes. Laughter is a must. Even on my darkest days, laughing has helped me. I hope it helps you too. (It’s free, ya know.)
As of this writing, I've received the first pass of the novel from my editor. A pdf of the book has been sent to the three exceptionally talented people who've agreed to read it. The cover is designed. The swag is on its way.
Because the story revolves around life during COVID, a friend who happens to be in publishing said it was a great idea, and to get it out this fall--a feat of turnaround a traditional publisher could never do. So, from Jump Street, it's been pedal to the metal. As if I needed another business, I'm now in self-publishing purgatory.
I'm okay with that from a writing point of view. I prefer to work fast. It helps me keep an eye on the project at large. But I'm also learning a new business, and that is not nearly as fun to take on at a flash-forward pace. Yet, maybe not knowing what I don't know is a good thing. There's very little time to second guess myself.
Back to the writing part. For some creative people, getting things done during lock-down has been a challenge. I get it. For me, writing this book was a way to feel like I was in control of my life. At least part of it.
Those of you who know me know that my mother passed in early April, and I haven't seen my father since. So naturally, I wrote a comedy, right? But here's the thing: my family has always used humor to get by and to get through. Even in my mother's last days, we laughed. I speak to my father every day, and while some days are harder than others, we almost always laugh. I treasure that.
If you choose to read the book, you'll get to meet my parents. How could I not weave them in? They're damn funny. Particularly when they're not trying to be. I believe that's true of most of us.
Finger crossed, the book should be available on Amazon sometime October 13th. We shall see. These days, life is rarely what we plan.
Hope your endeavors are fulfilling,
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.