Grabbing Take-Out Is Great Until I Get ‘Eater’s Remorse’


Like many people, I have been venturing out for restaurant food, be it drive-through or take-out. I justify this by admitting that eating my own cooking would kill me faster than “The Covid” ever would. But the minute my belly is full, “eater’s remorse” sets in.

Just because I got my dinner in a bag doesn’t mean someone in the kitchen didn’t sneeze on it first. Just because the cashier was wearing gloves when she handed me my change doesn’t mean the previous owner of that change didn’t have a persistent cough. And just because noodles are comfort food doesn’t mean I should be eating them three times a day.

I’m what my father would call a Nervous Nellie. Yet my personal history backs me up. Every time I take precautions because I’m worried, and every time those precautions save me from danger, it only reinforces my belief that a little nervousness can be a good thing.

That said, “danger” means different things to different people. In my case, rain on my head because of no umbrella is danger. (“You’ll catch your death out there!” my mom would say.) Getting into a car with a total stranger is danger. (“That’s not danger, Debbie. That’s called a date!” my friends would say.) Stepping on a Lego brick because of no slippers is danger. (“Sorry, mom but, boy, did you ever slide!” my kids would say.)

So this COVID-19 thing has me living in controlled panic most of the time. In order to get through my daily life, I deny this, of course, and that is why my hair has begun falling out. (“It is not falling out!” my husband would say.)

Today, I decided to clean out the musty, dusty garage in order to distract myself from worrying. It worked. After several hours, I was pooped… and the garage was starting to look pretty nice.

I rewarded myself with a leisurely lunch break and drove through Zaxby’s. One of their Cobb salads was just what I needed.

But by the time I got back to the garage, eater’s remorse was in full swing. Worse yet, I had a nagging, dry cough that made me feel short of breath. I coughed harder and harder until — oh, no! — I got a sore throat. I closed up the garage and went inside. My muscles hurt.

“That’s it,” I told myself. “I have ‘The Covid.’”

I got out my living will and settled onto the couch, holding it in both hands and waiting to be discovered by horrified family members. When Mark came in, he was horrified, but mostly because I was sitting on the couch.

“I thought you were cleaning out the garage,” he said.

“I have muscle aches.”

“Because you moved that freezer I told you not to move by yourself?”

I shrugged.

“Do you have a cough?”

“I do.” And, as if solely through the power of suggestion, I went full throttle into a super-frenzied cough. When I came out of it, I looked at him accusingly (“I told you so!”) but he was holding a tiny piece of lettuce between two fingers.

“You coughed this up,” he said, not judging. “Would you say you feel better now?”

I nodded, then attempted a small cough but it sounded fake, even to me.

“You saved my life,” I said somberly.

“You saved your own life,” he said. “Now, about that garage…”