Look, I didn’t plan to be rummaging this week through all the shelves at all the stores.
But there I was at CVS, at Rite Aid, at Five Below, and then back at another CVS, each empty shelf filling me with more dread as I found myself trying to keep it together.
“This is bad … this is really bad,” I thought as my mind played back all of the coronavirus news alerts, each one more unsettling than the last.
And that’s when I saw her. Snow White posed playfully on a bottle of cherry-scented Disney hand sanitizer.
Wait — is she mocking me? Had she heard me talk smack all these years about the outdated gender roles of Disney princesses?
“Not so woke now, are you!?” her smug animated face seemed to say.
OK, maybe I’m getting a little unhinged, but perhaps it’s appropriate that the only thing that stands between me and a deadly virus is a fairy-tale character, because our president is spinning his own fanciful, impossible-to-believe story about the coronavirus being no big deal:
Once upon a time there lived a “king” who insisted that his kingdom was “very, very ready” to deal with anything wicked because he (and only he) was “rapidly developing” a magical spell (the best magical spell!) that would save them all.
Except — back in the real world — more than 3,000 have already died worldwide, nine have died in the United States, and an increasing number have tested positive. Government officials who actually know better say we won’t have a vaccine a year from now, at least not one that’s ready for public use.
And no, your majesty, a flu vaccine cannot be used to stop coronavirus.
At the coronavirus task force briefing Monday where Trump asked about the flu vaccine, experts seemed to struggle to make him understand that there wasn’t a happy ending in sight.
“Let me make sure you get the ... information,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “A vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that’s deployable.”
Meanwhile the stress is clearly getting to health-care workers on the front lines. On Tuesday, a Twitter user who identified herself as a nurse sounded an alarm.
“Last night’s shift was exhausting for reasons I cannot divulge. I am spent. We are totally underprepared, understaffed, undersupplied. And I want to cry. What will they do when all the health care workers get sick too?”
Not exactly the kind of message that helps you sleep at night — which might explain why I spent the wee morning hours online ordering overpriced water, cleaning supplies, and, inexplicably, a solar phone charger. But exactly the kind of End Times talk that makes you put faith in a princess over a president.
And yes, I know that what really works is soap and water. But soap and water don’t travel well in this job.
So, undeterred by the empty shelves, I continued on my coronavirus prevention journey, including a stop to the vending Pharma Box in the old Gallery mall that I once mocked — what dope is gonna buy anything in here? — and that I nearly hugged after discovering it still had four teeny tiny bottles of Purell.
I bought them all, and then watched the machine spit them out in painfully slow motion until it malfunctioned and gave me only two, sending me right back to Five Below.
Call me Dopey, I thought, as I snatched up a bunch more tubes of the Snow White cherry-scented sanitizer, but maybe her time minding dwarfs taught her a thing or two about health and hygiene. I mean, one of them was called Doc.