Marriage and Toilet Paper

covid-19 image

We had two important goals when we left the house this morning: get married and buy toilet paper. Now our two goals might seem incompatible but they are not during a pandemic.

As our world gets increasingly constrained with stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and shortages of things like toilet paper, it is hard to know if we are heading towards some kind of civil breakdown, deep economic depression or a short-lived anomaly.

My own perspective that we will get through this pandemic, as we did in 1918, but the shutdown of businesses, social distancing, and the stay-at-home orders will be in place for much longer than people think.

After some parts of the world seem to have ‘tamed’ the coronavirus, we are now seeing headlines like, “Scientists fear second coronavirus wave as China’s lockdowns ease”. In the United States where containment has failed miserably, the policy is inconsistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and the number of infected continues to grow, I do not have hope that this will be a short-lived emergency or that our economy will recover easily.

Yesterday the White House released models predicting that the “U.S. death toll would be 100,000 to 240,000”. They gave all kinds of caveats that the numbers could be much lower if people follow the stay-at-home orders and other government advice, but it is also easy to see how the numbers could be worse then the current model without a major shift in our approach.

So all this fear and uncertainty brings us to marriage and toilet paper. The latest incarnation of our marriage plan was to be a marriage performed in our driveway, with six feet of distance between us and the officiant, followed by a virtual wedding ceremony with a different virtual officiant live-streamed to friends and family. Yesterday, tired of the uncertainty and stressed about potentially not being able to marry as planned, we quickly made new plans to be married this morning. We still plan to hold a virtual wedding ceremony in a few weeks, but without the stress of trying to get married that morning in a period of great uncertainty.

We had a lovely wedding ceremony this morning with a fun, funky wedding officiant and we walked out of her office happy and excited. What to do next before heading home? Why find toilet paper of course. All of the grocery and drug stores near us were completely sold out of toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, and other paper products. We had passed a supermarket on our way to being married that we thought might have toilet paper.

We got in our car and for a moment took a deep sigh of relief, took a few pictures of our ringed hands, kissed and then drove to the supermarket for toilet paper. The supermarket did have tissues and paper towels, which we bought, but no toilet paper. Next, we called Costco, which was nearby. We learned that they had been out of toilet paper but had just gotten a big shipment this morning. We raced up to Costco, quickly became Costco members, and along with some more food to freeze, which we didn’t really need, walked out with an enormous package of toilet paper, one to a customer.

Missions accomplished! The newly minted husbands are now securely back at home, disposable gloves are thrown away, face mask put away, and hands washed.

We are ready for the rest of our wedding day, including some intimate time as well as a special dinner cooked at home.

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