Quarantine Confessional is an advice column by Cyrus Lee Hancock, a licensed catastrophe coach, a rescue dog breeder, an excellent marksman, a post-apocalypse career advisor and a hurricane survival expert. Quarantine Confessional is intended for recreational use only and is not responsible for any fuck-ups by readers who’ve misinterpreted his advice into a fatal conclusion. Cyrus Lee Hancock is sponsored by Québécois Cognac: Quand la Vie approche de la Fin du Monde, Québécois Cognac.
VIC NEVERMAN OF hawk HAVEN, FLORIDA
Dear Cyrus Lee Hancock,
It took ten weeks of quarantine before Josefina offers to trade me for a set of sushi knives. She broke the news by mentioning I would be spending time with another woman. Oh? Is she kicking me out to my mother’s, I joke. No, Jo says, but Krisi is almost as nice. Yeah? Okay. And who is Krisi, I ask for the sake of conversation. Don’t worry, Jo ensures me, Krisi laughs easily, my ego will be well inflated. Krisi has a couple of kids, Jo mentions before insisting I wouldn’t be expected to raise them, only cook, mix Krisi cocktails and give her the occasional foot-rub. I feign laughter as I do in those occasions Josefina jests on the many ways she could murder me with little more than a shrimp fork and a single chopstick. Jo can see through my hollow chuckle. Don’t worry, she says, she is receiving good value in return. I object. Surely, I’ve a “no-trade clause” somewhere in the fine print of our relationship. There sure isn’t, Josefina says as she slips into her night gown. Diplomat I am, I compromise and offer to buy Jo all the sushi knives she needs. She accepts this as good leverage to use against Krisi. Wait, I ask for pause. I do not have any interest in playing butler for a random single mom Jo met at spin-class before the Covid lockdown. Good to know, Josefina says before telling me Krisi is not a single mother. Oh? Jo explains further: in exchange for me, Josefina would receive a set of sushi knives, 50 boxes of ramen noodles and a certain Mister Fricke, who she plans on giving a cot in the garage and having him paint the house. Okay, I say, relieved. Maybe this is a joke, but in the worst case scenario, at least I don’t have to paint the damn house.
The next evening, I walk into the bedroom to find an unabashed Josefina not even attempt to disguise the video-conference negotiations underway. I peer over her shoulder…
“Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband.” Krisi Fricke says from the comfort of what appears to be her house commode (we presume based on the porcelain chair-back and threadbare toilet-paper dispenser). Krisi’s hair must have been dyed blonde prior to the quarantine, but in the meantime her dark & silver roots have stirred together the oddest of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream concoctions: faded vanilla on the bottom topped with frost-burnt chocolate. Krisi’s eyebrows are nervously over-plucked and her t-shirt advertises the Minnesota Twins and a lack of bra underneath. Her face, as she speaks, resembles the contortions of an imaginative kid attempting to compete at a spelling contest in a foreign unknown language. “I love, uh, Jerry. It’s just… maybe I love the idea of him, but the uh, the practicality of Jerry is, I just can’t deal with it right now, eh?”
Jo mutes her computer and turns to me. See, she seems nice. I shrug, meh.
Krisi goes on, oblivious of off-screen conversation, “It’s really me and the girls over here. They love their father, but they realize he is like…” Obsolete, Jo offers Krisi and Krisi accepts it, “Right! Obsolete. Yeah, so uh, Jerry has pretty much given-up as an entity in the house, but a couple times a year, when there’s like a hurricane heading for us or something, Jerry suddenly has a purpose and he goes all commando, getting sandbags and filling the pantry and putting up the shutters. He drives us crazy, but I tell the girls to let their father have this: his one week of usefulness. They roll their eyes, but they buy-in. I mean, it’s like finally Jerry feels alive and I’m like, yeah, that’s the man I married. It’s the only time during the year we’re definitely going to have sex. The other fifty weeks a year, Jerry just gets in the way. But now you got this whole corona thing happening. Jerry comes alive and goes driving across town for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but, like, with a hurricane, you’re preparing for, like, a week, but, with the corona, it’s been two months of commando Jerry and…” Krisi pauses for a belch. “I don’t want my daughters witnessing me murdering their father. I have to get rid of him.”
“You’ll find Vic is quite the ideal guy around the house during these times.” Jo says into her camera, much more the salesperson than Krisi. “Vic has been preparing his entire life for the end of the world and he’s pretty psychologically down with it. I wouldn’t even be offering him up, except we’ve already watched all of the Netflix shows we can both agree on and I feel like there is so much more out there for me to stream if I didn’t have to be held down by his standards.”
I’m hearing what Jo has to say, but I do believe a large part of her willing to trade me has to do with the argument we had over evolution the night prior. I happen to be of the school who believes domestic dogs evolved from wolves. Josefina, on the other hand, believes domestic dogs devolved from wolves. In my opinion, there is no such thing as “devolution”. Natural selection occurs and if the natural choice is for cuteness than we shall evolve into cuter creatures over time. Josefina though, she was born in Mexico, snuck into the U.S., raised lean in the meaner parts of Chicago and she values strength and ruthlessness over cuteness and savoir-faire, which… fair enough. Domestic dogs have an evolved security in life, I explained. Is it not better to be cute and secure than furious and at risk? What is security, Jo asked, if you are weaker for it? That is the Chicago cynic in her; what good is a police force if they are the primary source of repression? Better to be secure through strength, not subservient to power structures. Josefina Jesús-María might be a liberal, but she’s got a hell of a libertarian streak to her.
Back to online partner swaps with Krisi, who is off on a tangent, “Jerry says he once saw Madonna on David Letterman explaining how she always pees in the shower and when Letterman asks why, Madonna says because the pee cures athlete’s foot. So Jerry, y’know, brilliant idiot that he is, he wakes up in the middle of the night and decides he’s going to do an experiment. For a week, when he showers, he pees on one foot and not the other to see if Madonna is right.”
“What?” Jo is flabbergasted. “How, what?”
“Right? So he stands on the one foot and points his little dick to pee on the other foot.”
“What did he learn?” Jo is curious, as I hover over-shoulder and off-screen.
“Nothing!” Krisi responds. “He doesn’t even have athlete’s foot! He’s been pissing on one foot, but they both always feel the same. My Jerry, he’s no athlete. He won’t break a sweat until June. He gets winded unloading the dishwasher, which he never does by the way.”
“Oh, Vic is obsessed with dishes. When he’s done with ours he starts washing our neighbors.” Jo jokes, but wants to get to the point, “Let’s talk about these knives!”
“So it is a Yanagiba, which is perfect for cutting sushi rolls or sashimi.” Krisi explains, taking a knife from her bathroom counter to display it to Josefina. “It is forged from a single piece of steel, but it is not stainless steel and will rust if not properly cleaned.”
“And…” Jo waits, expectantly. “What about the vegetable knife and the bone-cutting knife?”
“Oh. Uh. Well, the deal is just for one knife. Not the whole set. If you’d rather have the Deba, which cuts through cartilage and bone… or the Usuaba for vegetables, I could give you one of those instead.”
“But not the whole set?”
Krisi looks down at her knife and ponders. “Um, no.”
“What if I let you keep Jerry?” Jo counters with intensity for sushi which has frightened me in the past and, yes, scares me now. “You could have both Vic and Jerry. Did I mention Vic has a foot fetish? He’ll be delighted to get his hands on your feet, whatever shapes they’re in. And he makes great cocktails… margarita, sangria, negroni, gins & tonic. And you’d still have Jerry around to be a father to the girls and do scientific experiments with his urine.”
Krisi chews on a lip in thought before shaking her head, “I just don’t have the fridge space for enough beer to feed two men. What if I send you the Yanagiba, Jerry and 100 boxes of ramen noodles?”
Jo is intrigued, but wants more, “Throw in the Usuaba knife and you have a deal.”
Krisi is hesitant. “I just… I lost my Asian virginity to the guy who gave me this Usuaba. I mean, I wasn’t a virgin, I had been with plenty of guys, but he was my first Asian, even if he was a Filipino named Jorge, but it is still kinda important, eh? It was a family heirloom of his. Jerry isn’t allowed to use it, though I don’t know what he’d do other than clean-out his fingernails. He hasn’t cut a vegetable since the one time he attempted to mow our yard.”
“Then no deal.” Josefina said with finality. “Sorry Krisi, you’re stuck with Jerry.”
“What? No. What if… What if I swap you the whole knife set, but just for a week?”
Josefina shuts her laptop, terminating the conversation. She turns to smile at me, “Hi Bunny! Want to watch some Netflix?”
I feel like I should be offended. Should I be?
Cyrus Lee Hancock Responds:
In the post-apocalypse there are two kinds of man: useful and useless. You are currently deemed useful. Roll with it. Demand your own terms, but don’t overestimate your dick as cock alternatives can be found anywhere. Perhaps you should pick-up a new trade, like horse thievery, bird mimicry, chainsaw wood-sculpting, blacksmithing, moonshining or animal husbandry. Those would get you further in the post-apocalypse than your willingness to wash dishes. Most of all… believe in yourself.