From The Straits Times    |

Long before social distancing measures were implemented to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, I had made changes to my lifestyle. Well, I had no compelling urge to get myself killed by a virus we still know so little about. But more than self-preservation, I didn’t want to infect those I love. 

So two weeks – okay, it wasn’t long but it felt like a lifetime – before the circuit-breaker took effect, I put a moratorium on an important part of my social weekend: I stopped going to the bars and clubs that had become a big part of my life, in case they precipitated the end of it.

Meanwhile, on weekdays, my work as an editorial consultant allows me to operate from home. Way before circuit-breaker kicked in, I was already working from home for half a day – years before WFH became a thing.

I did enjoy meeting writers and clients, though, so I had to adapt. For instance, it felt weird initially to be unable to pat a subordinate on the back for a job well done. But I realised quickly how this could be replaced by a text message or an e-mail. And I could still scream – over the phone or on a video call – if the task was poorly executed!

The great thing is, with meetings conducted only over Zoom or Skype, people have finally realised how much time (including travel) and space (booking a room) they’ve been wasting all their lives.

With the massive time saving from travel and weekend shenanigans, the only social I contact I have is spent almost entirely with my wife Cara, who also works from home. 

And it’s driving her nuts. 

She loves an occasional chat. However, I give her plenty of face time. And since she practically has my undivided attention, it has become in-your-face time. When she starts to ignore me, I begin conversations with our cats. Which is fine, normally. But lately, I wait for them to answer – the very same questions she ignored. 

Then there’s the incessant cleaning up. Cara doesn’t like doing the dishes, but I have no such problem. I’ll grab the plate while she’s chewing the last of her meal and start washing up.  And I’m always making sure she has fresh coffee on her desk. She’s relieved she doesn’t have to make it herself  but I would deliver it and then ask for a five-star rating for service. She giggled a little at the first two mugs but now she stares straight at her computer screen when she sees me approaching.

When Cara really needs a break from me,  there are books. And Netflix. And then there’s the classical guitar. 

No, I have not succumbed to productivity porn memes to set myself ridiculous goals such as learning the entire classical guitar canon. I just learn and play pieces I like, as I always have. 

I do, however, miss some of my friends, but the surge in popularity of such apps as Zoom and Houseparty has allowed me to be in touch with them. 

I also miss the weekend drinks. On the first weekend of circuit-breaker, I broke my own ban on drinking at home alone when I poured myself a whisky. The first one went down easily.

The second, well, I struggled to get through it. It’s not the same drinking while watching Netflix in the tranquil setting of my study, instead of the rowdy atmosphere with blaring music in a bar or a club. 

I washed the whisky glass, capped the bottle and made myself a pot of tea. And a cup of coffee. For Cara. And went back to my favourite pastime – annoying her.

This story was first published on Her World’s June 2020 issue.