We’re a nation that adjusts, but old habits die hard

April 26, 2020

Once some restrictions have been lifted, certain habits you’ve developed during your quarantine are going to have to change. Your wardrobe can no longer just consist of bathrobe and pajamas. Yes, you actually are going to have to find some real clothes, and before two in the afternoon. 

Makeup will be more than ... I know, what makeup, right? Anyway, you will no longer be able to make do with shoe polish to cover up those gray roots sprouting all over your hair. In other words, you’ll have to find an alternative to the “Tales from the Crypt” look you’ve been sporting for the last month.

And it’s not just your appearance that will take a hit. I know personally, I probably have developed an obsession with toilet paper. This is going to take some in-house rehabilitation to keep me from breaking into a cold sweat anytime I see a roll of toilet paper on a store shelf.

I’ve been like a drug addict, cruising the streets at night, looking for just one-ply, even though I have a stockpile at home. It’s never enough. I’m always offered all kinds of boosters by drug dealers, which I turn down until I find the motherlode; it’s an eight-pack, two-ply shipment that just came in from Mexico. I know I will need help.

And I always carry a large purse filled with wipes, masks and sanitary gloves. This doesn’t look suspicious, so I may be able to keep this item. Women of my generation love oversized, enormous, can’t-find-anything-because it’s-sunk-to-the-bottom purses. This habit has been handed down to us. Our mothers never left home without a copy of the deed to the house, insurance papers, photos of cousins from the Civil War and enough cash to buy another house should the occasion arise. Somehow it all fit in there.

Need a copy of your birth certificate? We could instantly produce it. Marriage licenses, electrical bills, medical records, we had it all. It was comforting to see that housecoat-clad woman lumbering down the street with a satchel the size of an aircraft carrier slung over her shoulder.

Now, there are young women who carry large purses, but those modern ladies are people like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s wife. Both of them are ridiculously handsome and would look good even in a black Hefty bag. From what I can gather, the large purse has become a sign of aging, though.

I don’t know what you do with the small purses of today. It might just be that you have a dollar to your name along with the telephone number of your parents, should you find yourself in a position where you actually have to pay for something. Or it might be a political statement about how you consider yourself an independent woman who orders only Pinot Noir wine to go with a vegan lasagna, but could easily be talked into a Pinot Grigio if it was swordfish instead. 

It’s obvious to me a large purse has certain advantages. For instance, you don’t have to worry about a thief snatching it. The purse weighs about as much as a professional football tackle. It doubles as a weapon; one blow is enough to make someone look like they went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.  The large purse doesn’t suggest age to me. Simply put, it translates that I’ve been to the rodeo before, so don’t even think about it. 

As you can see, we’ve got some new habits to break and a couple to keep. But we are a nation that adjusts. So, maybe you could also fit a roll of toilet paper in that purse.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter