Sunday, January 23, 2022

Inga's 2022 Covid Quiz

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published January 24, 2022. Note: the La Jolla Light’s published version edited out phrases such as “natural selection” and others deemed to be potentially offensive. This is the version I submitted.] ©2022

If the first three variants of Covid-19 were named Alpha, Delta and Omicron from the Greek alphabet, what might the next one be called?

(a) Sigma chi

(b) Nancy Pi-losi

(c) What-the-phi

(d) Oy-mega

(d) Bob

Which of the following phrases is NOT associated with Covid-19?

(a) “Follow the science.”

(b) “When will you be getting in more masks/handsanitizer/test kits?”

(c) “I’m doing my own research.”

(d) “He was hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

 (e) “Your flight is cancelled.”

Pre-pandemic, if you knew what you know now, you would:

(a) have invested your retirement funds in toilet paper futures and Covid home test kits

(b) taken a cruise before that now-beleaguered industry goes belly up

(c) have realized in March 2020 that even your dearest friends and closest family members would have happily bought the last roll of toilet paper out from under you

(d) have relished leaving the house without a mask steaming up your vision

(e) not have said, “don’t worry, there’s no way they’re going to close schools.”

Which of the following has NOT been put forth as a treatment for Covid-19?

(a) Ivermectin veterinary medicine for de-worming horses

(b) consuming household bleach

(c) Hydroxychloroquine malarial drug

(d) Drinking your own urine

(e)  Advil [actual correct answer]

N95 is:

(a) the highway from Nebraska to Nome

(b) the winning number on your Bingo card

(c) a surgical mask that scratches the skin off your nose but reduces your risks of Covid and similar airborne afflictions

(d) The area that includes Zimbabwe on a world atlas

(e) The successful torpedoing of your opponent’s aircraft carrier on Battleship

Persons opposed to Covid vaccines consider them:

(a) a plot developed by the U.S. Government to insert teeny weeny microchips in citizens for the purpose of mind control,

(b) based on “science” which is a code word for depriving people of their civil rights, and keeping them from congregating in large stupid maskless crowds

(c) dangerous even though they have never had diphtheria, polio, chicken pox or measles because of vaccines

(d) useless because vaccinated people got omicron anyway, even though they didn’t get very sick from it so, seriously, why bother?

(e) the fault of some people far far away, one of whom decided to ingest a bat. #definitelyacaseforgoingvegan

(f) a good idea just prior to being hooked up to a ventilator

In your own household, you:

(a) will invite into your home only persons who gave birth to you

(b) have no clue what “family groupings” actually means.

(c) “socially distance” to avoid your teenager.

(d) stick pins into facsimile dolls of the Zoom creator.

(e)  could not have imagined in your worst dreams that you saved all these years to pay $50,000 for your college student to be remotely learning at your dining room table.

Your community interactions involve:

(a) frequently checking in with neighbors, offering love and Covid test kits #bringingoutthebestinpeople

(b) appointing yourself Chief of Covid Police, posting regular rants on your neighborhood Next Door about perceived non-compliance. #bringingouttheworstinpeople

(c) getting very very mad at anyone who makes the teeniest joke about Covid-19 since it is a Very Serious Matter Not To Be Joked About Ever Because That Could Be YOUR Grandmother Who Gets Sick and Dies.

(d) not admitting you never even really liked your grandmother

(e) wondering if you’ll ever eat indoors at a restaurant again, and not just because of those unreadable QR codes taped to the tables. #willingtoriskitallforanactualmenu

We will know the pandemic is over when:

(a) Dr. Fauci says so.

(b) When natural selection has taken its course

(c) Conversations occur when the words “tested” and “vaccinated” never come up once

(d) CVS is selling Covid home test kits at 10 for a dollar, no returns

(e) The evening news does not lead with Covid data

(f) Your elementary-school-aged great-grandkids visit you in the nursing home for help doing a report on something called “covid” that was apparently a very big deal in the early 2020s.

(g) (see (f) You know you’ve heard the term, but can’t quite place it.

 Your Covid prevention plan includes:

(a) wearing mask as mandated by law.

(b) wearing mask to water plants in your secluded back yard.

(c) sleeping in a mask.

(d) making the dog wear a mask.

(e) not leaving your bedroom since March 2020, subsisting on beef jerky and tap water.



Sunday, January 16, 2022

Advice For The Thin Police

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published January 17, 2022] ©2022

Several years ago at a holiday lunch, I was seated next to a woman who had opened her own clothing boutique in North County. She thought it was a travesty that women’s clothes were mostly targeted toward the really slender. So in addition to carrying clothes for the emaciated svelte (my term), it was her plan to design clothing for her boutique for the “larger woman.”

“What sizes?” I inquired, suddenly taking interest 

 “8-12,” she says. 

It was all I could do not to accidentally knock her Nicoise salad (dressing on the side) into her scrawny size two lap.

Prior to my divorce 30 years ago, I always wore a size 4, which in today’s deflationary size market is probably a 2, or even a 0. (Personally I think size 0 is what you should be after you’ve been dead a while.) Afterwards, I packed on 40 pounds eating the Post-Divorce Mrs. Fields Cookie and Chardonnay Depression Diet. Alas, I’ve been heifering, er, hovering around a size 16 ever since. I’d consider wearing sizes 8-12 really good news.

Every year, shedding at least 30 of those pounds has been my number one New Year’s resolution. And every year on December 31, I say, “Well, next year!”

Anyone who has lived in La Jolla for any length of time knows that the Thin Police are on regular and vigilant patrol. It is their mission to make sure that anyone who displays more than a certain level of avoirdupois is (1) a regular topic of discussion, and (2) must be “helped.” When I gained so much weight, it was abundantly clear to me how much air time my weight was getting among some of the locals.

In my first few years in the oinker set, a very slender acquaintance made it her full time unsolicited project to assist my weight loss efforts, including showing up at my door one day with a package of over-the-counter diet pills that had been opened with one missing, saying she’d bought these for herself but wasn’t going to use the rest of them, and thought I might be interested. Hell no!

I’ve never understood the compelling desire to tell people how much better they would look if they were thinner.


This is what I like about writing a column; you get do-overs, at least in fantasy. I’m annoyed at myself that I didn’t take this bull by the horns then. But didn’t want people to think I was both fat AND surly.

I’ve always been a lifelong walker, walking at least 2-3 miles a day. Somehow this never seemed to impact my weight, which I think you’ll agree is totally unfair. But for years I used to see the same uber-thin woman whose kids were the same ages as mine out jogging on my same route. She would routinely jog up next to me and inquire enthusiastically, “Hey, have you lost weight?” No other topic, ever. It got hugely irritating because I was clear that in her mind, she thought she was helpfully encouraging me to shed some pounds.

She suddenly disappeared (I rather hoped she’d been bludgeoned to death by an infuriated fatty) but a few months ago, after a 15-year absence, I was out for a walk when she jogged by, as slender as ever. As she jogged in place (some things never change) alongside me, she mentioned that she’d moved out to the desert some years ago but was now back in town being treated for osteoporosis. What struck me immediately was that between years of leathering desert sun and waaay too little flesh on her sunken face and skeletal frame, she looked 100. Seriously. I wanted to grab her by her pointy clavicle and scream, Stand still! You’ll break your little tiny bones!

 “Hey,” she said, “you look great!” (If she’d said, “Have you lost weight?” I was prepared to take her skinny ass down.) I don’t know how great I looked (same weight as ever) but compared to her I felt like Cindy Crawford. OK, a fat Cindy Crawford. I didn’t point out that among the advantages of being a little chunky as you get older are that you’re your own weight bearing exercise. No osteoporosis for me!

Fortunately, the Thin Police have long since given up on me. And for this I say “thank you.”

But I do have some advice for people who are tempted to “help” other people lose weight: 

Shut up and go away.


Saturday, January 8, 2022

It Was A Very Covid Christmas

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published January 10, 2022] ©2022

Was this the Christmas that just wasn’t meant to be?

Like so many people, Olof and I were reflecting at Thanksgiving on how much less chaotic this Christmas was going to be than last year. In 2020, our hotel in L.A. precipitously cancelled the reservations of all guests who weren’t essential workers, and we were scrambling for the PCR tests that one of the relatives in our family group of 20+ was demanding of everyone.

But now, as Christmas 2021 approached, all five grandchildren were back in on-site learning, much to their mothers’ relief (and sanity). All were now vaccinated, even the seven-year-old, and all adults boostered as well.

Christmas at our younger son Henry’s house in L.A. is always everyone’s favorite two-plus days of the year.  Both our family and our daughter-in-law’s family get along well. (As her mother likes to say, “no one is crying in the kitchen”).  My daughter-in-law is a fabulous cook and baker, and decorates their home like a Norman Rockwell painting. Her parents, from the East Coast, always overnight out three different kinds of smoked salmon along with some amazing caviar and other fishy delicacies including herring for Olof and me from the best deli in New York to serve for Christmas morning brunch. (Both families being multi-ethnic has its definite advantages.) The five grandkids are all the perfect ages for Christmas.

So what could go wrong?

Well, pretty much everything.

It was December 21 when the first text came from Henry. His fully-vaccinated seven-year-old had a low-grade fever and malaise, and so, in an abundance of caution since the in-laws were arriving from the East Coast the next day, they had him tested. To their surprise, it was positive.

The L.A. grandkids’ private school not only has a rabidly-strict mask policy, but erected temporary classrooms to reduce classroom size to ten, and seem to have cornered the world market on individual plexiglass bubbles.  They also test all the kids once a week.

How does such a kid get Covid? 

Alas, Christmas had be to be summarily cancelled.  The in-laws were fortunately able to divert to Northern California to spend Christmas with their son and family (who had been due to come to L.A. as well.)  But everyone, collectively, was heartbroken.

Personally, I was willing to risk Covid for the smoked salmon for 20 that had already been delivered to my son’s house in L.A.  (My daughter-in-law’s mother wryly observed, “I hope they don’t lose their sense of taste and smell.”) Maybe they could leave a selection in a cooler on the front porch for us to pick up? Worth the three-hour drive to L.A. in the rain. 

Meanwhile, the poor seven-year-old was isolated in his room, no contact with sibs, with Masked Mom bringing sustenance several times per day. I FaceTimed him daily. He was bored beyond belief, but was being allotted pretty much unlimited screen time which he concluded might be worth Covid. 

But then my daughter-in-law tested positive herself.

Meanwhile, two family members who had taken advantage of cheap fares to Europe were due to be arriving back on Christmas Eve, planning, as always, to join us.  But when the wife did her pre-flight Covid test it came back positive, quarantining them in a Vienna hotel room for at least 10 days.  It wasn’t long before her husband tested positive as well, re-starting the clock.

Tearfully, I cancelled all our plans: the hotel, the dog sitter, aviary tender, unpacked all the stuff I had already packed. It was going to be a very sad Christmas.

By pure serendipity, while I was picking up a prescription at CVS on the 23rd, a shipment of much-coveted Covid home test kits arrived. Word spread like toilet paper deliveries, er, wildfire. They sold out in less than an hour.  I bought two, just in case.

Some friends heard our plans had been cancelled and graciously invited us to join them and their children and grandchildren for Christmas Eve dinner.  We gratefully accepted. 

It was delightful.  As sad as we were about missing our own traditional celebration, it was fun being in a family celebration with others. 

Three days later, however, our friends called and said that the younger of their two adult sons, with whom we had spent a cozy evening and sat at the same table, had just tested positive for Covid.  Within days, the son’s wife and his children were now Covid positive as well. (Hmmm. Maybe we could have just gone to L.A.? Eaten the salmon?)

Two hours later, another friend texted me that all fifteen people at their own Christmas Eve dinner, all of whom had had at least one vaccine dose, had now tested positive for Covid.

As of this writing, Olof and I (vaccinated and boostered) have tested negative.  But I don’t even want to say that out loud.  It is never good to tempt the fates. There are still a whole lot of letters left in the Greek alphabet.


Nothing says Christmas like a Covid Home Test Kit