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Common Side Effects
Ruth Leopold

by Ruth Leopold

Carolina Meadows has taken wonderful care of its residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents in “Independent Living” have been virus free since the beginning of the disease’s spread in the United States. This is a remarkable record and we who live here are grateful to all the leadership and staff who have worked so hard on our behalf. Hard as they have worked, however, there are a few common side effects of the pandemic they have been unable to forestall. They are: the hair crisis, the too much of a good thing crisis, and last but not least, the dread COVID fifteen crisis.

1. The Hair Crisis:

I was already overdue to get a haircut at the beginning of last March when shut-downs began in North Carolina. I figured, “Okay, this won’t last long; who cares if I get a little shaggy!” As the shut-down continued, “a little shaggy” didn’t begin to describe what was happening to my head. My bangs flopped down into my eyes; odd tendrils began crawling down my neck like ivy on a decrepit old shed and my cowlicks stuck out in five different directions. Worse yet, the real color of my hair began showing.

I have spent most of my adult life disguising the real color of my hair which can charitably be described as “mouse.” When I got married, I was a red head. After I had children, I went with chestnut brown which morphed over the years into brown with blonde highlights. My genius of a hairdresser knows how to coax soft streaks to disguise my real color which she cheerfully calls “barn rat gray.” Now, because of COVID, the rat is truly out of the barn and squatting on my head for all to see.

2. The Too Much of a Good Thing Crisis:

To give all of us a wide variety of grocery and beverage items while we hunkered down, Carolina Meadows greatly expanded the list of food and household items which can be purchased from its Bakery. We can go on the Meadowlife home page and buy a wide variety of meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, veggies, dairy goodies (sea-salt caramel gelato, Yum!), plus  soaps, paper towels, TP, etc. etc. Everything is promptly delivered to our doors. In addition, the Carolina Meadows Concierge will shop off campus for whatever else we need, including wine, beer and the hard stuff; and therein lies the rub. It’s so easy to have some favorite wines delivered and so easy to lose track of how much we’ve indulged. Here’s a dialogue regularly heard in various villas and apartments: “Oh my Lord!” “What’s wrong?” “We’re down to our last two bottles of Chardonnay!”  “Well, call RIGHT NOW and order some more.” This service is just a little too convenient for our own good.

3. The Most Insidious Side Effect — The COVID 15 crisis:

When I refer to the COVID 15, I’m talking about the extra poundage I’m carrying as a result of the delicious dinners Carolina Meadows delivers to us seven days a week. Every Friday, we receive a menu for the following week’s dinners. We get to choose among six different entrees (one of which is vegetarian) plus soup or salad, bread and a fruit cup or a dessert.

The desserts are my downfall. When I cook dinner I almost never make dessert, but who can resist the cavalcade of goodies produced by the Carolina Meadows kitchen? Here are a few examples of the confections delivered to the door, French silk pie (dark chocolate, flaky crust, lots of whipped cream), white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, tiger brownies (chocolate and butterscotch bars drizzled with more chocolate), lemon layer cake, “Frankencookies” (they are really big), and tiramisu to die for. My pants are tighter and I’ve developed a distinct muffin top.

But, finally, there is a light at the end of the dark pandemic tunnel we’ve all been slogging through. Two vaccines have been approved for use and they appear to be highly effective against the virus. We just have to wait our turn to receive them.

I’d like to have some notice before I get the shots, so I can undo all bad habits I’ve acquired in the last ten months.  I will need to find several large burlap bags that I can put over my head. The bags will have eye holes and a small round opening that will only accommodate a straw so I can drink water. My intake will be monitored by my husband who hasn’t gained any weight. (#%&@!) After I emerge somewhat thinner, I will speed to my hairdresser who will have ordered an extra supply of bleach and several new pairs of scissors.  Finally, I will convince myself that Chardonnay is overrated and that Diet Coke is far superior. Mission accomplished!  (I hope.)

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