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Does this mask make me look fat? 6 signs that social distancing is getting the better of me

Sally Susman, the executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer, takes a light-hearted look at the quirks she has developed during lockdown. She encourages us to embrace ours during this uncertain time.
Sally Susman, executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer.
Sally Susman, executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer.Courtesy of Sally Susman

I know. I know. Social distancing is essential. Until we have a vaccine, it’s the only surefire protection against the virus. So, we carry on, dwelling in our small bubbles, sticking close to home and doing our best.

Still, the situation is wearing me down, testing my resolve. I’m exhibiting some quirks, including but not limited to:

1. Obsessing over meal planning.

I wake up thinking about breakfast, lunch and dinner. I scroll through the New York Times food section and marvel at the inspirations that can spring from my pantry: Cacio e Pepe, White Bean Soup, Tuscan Tuna Salad. These culinary possibilities enthrall me and distract from the monotony.

2. Avoiding the scale.

That device, with its numeric judgement, terrifies me. This is a painful side-effect of too much time spent lusting over those leftovers. I force myself to step on the scale only once a week. I do so only in the morning, tiptoeing on ever so lightly in hopes of tricking the scale. I keep my eyes closed as the number ticks up and then open only one eye to take in the news. I’ve stopped tracking my weight on my fitness app.

3. Ditching my COVID-19 dress code.

At the onset of the pandemic, I proudly declared that I’d put on pants with a button at the waist at least once a day, every day. With vainglorious pride, I boasted that I would maintain personal grooming standards. As I write, I’m in the same buttonless, stretch-top yoga pants that I’ve been wearing all week and my hair is in, what appears to be, a permanent ponytail.

4. Cheating on my wine time.

We have very few house rules, but one regulation is that Happy Hour never, ever commences before 6 PM. We’ve boasted about this self-discipline for decades. But as the COVID-19 days drone on, my wife and I watch as the clock ticks past 5:30, crawls towards 5:50, and stand by our drinks cart waiting for the hour to strike. My wife holds her martini shaker open and ready. I clutch the corkscrew.

5. Losing track of days.

I’m a meticulous planner. In the past, I not only knew the day, but I could guess the time, usually within five minutes. My organizational instincts are finely tuned. “I’m so glad it’s Friday,” I said to my wife yesterday. “Sorry, it’s Tuesday,” she replied. She was right. It’s always Blursday to me.

6. Asking the most ridiculous question.

“Does this mask make me look fat?” I asked as I checked my look in the mirror. I craned to see if my double chins were exacerbated by the light blue surgical mask dangling from my ears.

Perhaps the most important (and unanswerable) question is how long will social distancing last? Of course, we don’t know. All we can be sure of is that we—the lucky ones—are here now, in our homes, trying to stay healthy. So, I propose, let’s embrace our new-found quirks and consider them armor in our personal battle against COVID-19.