As of this writing, I have been effectively housebound for the last two and a half months. Having spent the last ten years happily living a self-induced Hermit life, preserving a comfortable 100-yard socially distanced space between myself and the outside world, and projecting some sort of faux-Agoraphobic persona, mine has become a mighty fine way of life. It’s a funny thing, though, when just the right set of circumstances comes along that you find yourself needing to mingle with icky humanoids but not being able to; it’s quite the conundrum.

Since Alice and Emma have come into my life, I have canceled countless doctor’s appointments. Although I have been taken to the bank a couple of times, not only have I otherwise not left my property, but I haven’t even worn shoes since, in the snow, my slippers have been more than sufficient to cover my feet while I take them in and out of the house to do their business.

I hate leaving them in their crate, especially now that they are already almost too big to get in one together, and leaving them loose in the house only results in pieces of everything I own being eaten or at least severely chewed. Since the house-breaking regimen has not been successfully completed, well… You can imagine what that costs me in rolls of “Bounty, the quicker picker-upper .”

As fate would have it, not long after this new chapter in my life began, my two oldest daughters told me about this”Instacart” thing that is all the rage in this new post-COVID apocalypse reality we have all been made to suffer to endure. They told me I would literally never have to leave my house, that everything would be brought to my doorstep, and that I could hang out with the girls and put all of my efforts into training them, loving on them, and otherwise further perfecting my Hermit way of life. I’m reminded, proofreading this paragraph, of an expression I heard many years ago from a high-level manager who had once assigned me a project and what he said to me after weeks of work and my final presentation: “That’s exactly what I asked for, but not what I wanted.”

This is where the conundrum comes in; my profile says I tell stories, and sometimes I cuss, and the entire premise of “Hermit Chronicles” is to tell stories about Hermit life and talk shit about icky humanoids I have to encounter on those occasions I need to get on a city bus and go out to the store for supplies or run other sundry and assorted errands. If I never leave my house, I can’t get any fresh material and, lately, I’ve been writing new stories about old events from years ago because, well, if I don’t write a little every day, I’m as sure as I can be that my head would quite literally fucking explode.

As if God Himself has been listening to my daily Hermit Writer’s Prayer, I got one of those Robo reminder calls about a doctor’s appointment that, more than any of the others, I cannot blow off. It is an annual check on my carotid arteries that I cannot afford to skip; one is already completely blocked (for which I had surgery and blocked again two years later), and even though veins have grown around the blockage, making sure the other one does not block is seriously important since my continued life legitimately depends on it. Needless to say, since they have yet to develop a category in Instacart where arterial ultrasounds can be brought to your doorstep, I had to take the bus downtown for the first time in months and deliver myself to them.

I was going to say that catching the bus and getting off at the intersection where my favorite coffee shop is felt like a family reunion, but since I’m not a big fan of people—antisocial Hermit that I am—it was more like a high school reunion where you see a bunch of people you always hated but had to pretend to be happy to see after a long period of time.

I stepped off the bus and was immediately struck by how not one little damn thing had changed, and I was oddly quite happy about that. I was comforted, almost getting run over (for the umpteenth time) in that intersection, because some asshole believing himself to be immune to the lit sign allowing handicapped people to cross was pissed off at me for daring to cross, laying on his horn to make sure I knew he was unhappy about my transgression.

Once my compulsory bird was flipped in his direction, what happened next made the entire trip worthwhile.

Surviving the diagonal gauntlet to the other side of the street, I noticed movement literally right at my feet. Regulars to this newsletter are well aware that I have some eyesight, although not terribly much, and I have a few quirky cognitive issues that make my daily life a little “entertaining.” As this wild turkey waddled herself directly across the path I was getting ready to take to the coffee shop, I honestly felt – for a good 10 seconds – that my eyes were playing tricks on me; I live in the largest city in New Hampshire, with a population well over 100,000, and it is the last place on Earth I would think I’d come across a wild turkey. And yet there she was… And she kept on walking as if I wasn’t even there.

Once it registered in my mind what was happening, I thought to myself this is a pretty damn cool thing to see but immediately recognized that. Given all the assholes traversing these city streets, her chances of long-term survival weren’t statistically promising. But then I made it to the door of the coffee shop and found one of the workers down on one knee hand feeding a mallard duck, and I decided I must have completely lost my last grip on the last thread of reality.

Because I feel compelled to leave you with a happy ending, while leaving you with the taste of The Surreal experience I had in the 4 hours I spent being furloughed from Doggy Daycare, you’ll be entertained to know how the actual doctor’s appointment went. The first two and a half minutes were spent talking about my test results and confirming that I was not only still alive but all systems were functioning normally (as normal as defined by my altered medical state) and the remaining 18 minutes were spent talking about my doctor’s dogs, Alice and Emma, and scrolling through pictures I showed her from my phone. And once I told her about the Alice Diaries, although I don’t know for sure, I think she has already subscribed so she can keep up with what Dear Miss Alice has to say to the world about her life and her insights regarding we icky humans.


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