Tommy Greenwald: A Pandemic Diary

Broadway advertising executive/children’s book author Tommy Greenwald has lived in Westport on and off since 1967. This morning — as we all adapt to our new normal — he shares his.

Tommy also sends this message to “06880” readers: “Stay safe, stay healthy, stay calm, stays sane. And remember: Only 2 rolls of toilet paper per customer!”

DAY ONE

6:57: Wake up. Enjoy 3 seconds of ignorant bliss before remembering what’s happening in the world. Groan in abject dread, roll over, try to go back to sleep. Fail.

7:13: Go downstairs to the elliptical machine. Tell myself that one good thing that can come out of this crisis is getting in shape and losing weight. Spend the entire time on the elliptical thinking about the chocolate chip cookies I’ll have for breakfast.

8:04: Shower. Use a lot of soap. A lot of soap.

8:28: Get dressed. Have trouble deciding which pair of sweatpants to wear. My socks don’t match. Who cares?

A pandemic problem.

8:32: Say good morning to the first adult child who has moved back in. He answers with a grunt. The other 2 adult children who have moved back in aren’t up yet, though their work days start at 9. Our oldest son’s girlfriend is also with us. She’s great. Still, that’s a lot of 20-somethings for one bathroom.

8:39: Take the dogs for the first of their 19 daily walks.

9:25: Go down to the basement to my workspace. Exiled myself there for privacy, and also because the background decor has a cool funky vibe, which will come in handy for all my Zoom videoconferences.

10:00: The first Zoom videoconference of the day. “Hey, that’s a cool funky vibe you got there, Tom,” says a colleague, which makes me feel good, since she, like almost everyone I work with, is approximately the same age as my kids.

10:42: Scroll the news online, just long enough to be frightened by the state of the world, dismayed by the state of our country, depressed about the stock market, embarrassed I’m dismayed about the stock market when there are far more important things to worry about, and awed by the courage and dedication of health care workers.

11:24: Time for a snack! Go upstairs, past the room where one kid is on the phone trying to sell something to someone who really isn’t in the mood to buy anything right now, through another room, where another kid is on the phone trying to sell something to someone who really isn’t in the mood to buy anything right now, and into the kitchen, where my third kid is on the phone, telling his boss that people really aren’t in the mood to buy anything right now.  Peer longingly into my office, where my son’s girlfriend is working away. She waves cheerfully. Why wouldn’t she be cheerful? She has the sweetest spot in the house.

11:26: Can’t find a snack. The kids ate everything.

Charlie, Joe and Jack Greenwald reading their dad’s books. Well, at least Charlie and Jack are.

12:30: Another dog walk, this time at Sherwood Island. It’s not crowded, but it’s not empty. It’s gorgeous. I thank the gods it’s still open, and keep reminding my wife, who is too damn friendly to other people, to make sure to respect the 6-foot rule.

2:15: Another Zoom call. I start getting used to seeing people in little square boxes, and find myself fascinated with other people’s decors. Never would have suspected that quiet, unassuming Brad from accounts would have a giant photograph of a nude bowler in his living room, but there it is.

3:05: Road trip. work up the strength to go to the grocery store. Take a deep breath and put my gloves on. Walk in, saying to myself, Youcandothisyoucandothisyoucandothisyoucandothis. Store is moderately crowded with people, but extremely empty of toilet paper.

3:45: Wash my hands, using a lot of soap. A lot of soap.

3:55: Time to visit Mom. She’s 80, but looks 60. Ask her if she needs anything. She says no. She goes to the market every day. Tell her that’s probably not wise at this point. She says, “I enjoy it. I’m very careful. I wear gloves. I bring Purell. I’m fine.” Decide the same thing I’ve decided since I was 10 years old: arguing with my mother is pointless.

4:45: Last Zoom conference of the day. More accolades for my cool, funky vibe. I work in the theater business, so we discuss the perilous state of our industry. Everything is locked down, and will be for the foreseeable future. No shows. No ticket sales. No income. Everyone is hurting, badly. Feels slightly uncouth to complain when so many people in the world are suffering way worse than we are. We do it anyway.

Tommy Greenwald, at the White House piano. Those days are gone for a while.

5:22: Ninth dog walk of the day. Dogs look up at me like, Are you serious? Streets are filled with walkers, joggers, bikers. We all wave and smile. People are much friendlier to each other during a pandemic.

8:15: Dinner. Everyone in the house will take a turn cooking. Tonight is my middle son’s turn. He makes one thing, but makes it very well. He also cranks the music to 11 while he cooks. We plan on taking our dinners very seriously during this crisis. It’s the one time of day when we all come together, try to stop worrying for an hour, and remember how truly lucky we are that we have what we have: a roof over our heads, enough food to eat, a family that enjoys each other’s company. We even laugh a little.

9:10: We spend 20 minutes scrolling Netflix to find something we all want to watch. We fail.

10:15: My wife and I call my wife’s sister, a nurse at Norwalk Hospital. She’s been working almost every day, and is exhausted. We tell her she’s our hero. We tell her all her colleagues are our heroes too. We tell her we love her and to stay safe. She promises she will. We hang up. We worry.

11:30 – Time for bed. I take a very mild sleeping aid. So sue me.

DAY TWO

Pretty much exactly the same thing as Day One. And until further notice.

14 responses to “Tommy Greenwald: A Pandemic Diary

  1. Nice share, Tom, and very glad you recognize how very, very lucky you are to be physically, fiscally and, apparently, mentally sound in these perilous days.

  2. Thanks Tommy Greenwald!

    And thanks Dan for posting these diversions 🙂

  3. Ilene Mirkine

    Thanks, Tommy, and thanks Dan for posting – certainly puts things into perspective! Enjoy those boys Tommy😊
    (By the way, I’m about to read one of Tommy’s “Guides to not reading” to a young cousin via FaceTime…now I’m really looking forward to it!)

  4. Roberta Tager

    Thank you for sharing. Michael went to school with your Dad,,,we know and love Kathy… and your amazing mother, Barbara. Regards , admiration and love to all of you💜‼️😊⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sincerely , Bobbi and Mike Taget Sent from my iPhone Bobbi

    >

  5. I love this! Thank you Tommy for the genuineness and humor but also for the heartfelt recognition and support of those on the front lines.

  6. Hi Tommy, a mere thirty years ago you provided piano music for our guests at our son David’s bar mitzvah. It’s great to see you are the same lovely guy today as you were back then. Thank you for providing perspective on our current experiences. Keep safe and keep smiling.

  7. I really smiled and laughed all the way through this post, I also thank you…
    And most of all Dan for working tirelessly to support our community with art, information, insights and laughter.

  8. Hi Tommy, – good story! We’ve never met but I used to go sailing with your grandfather Bernie.

  9. Tommy: Thank you for sharing this. I had to smile at the thought of your son cranking the music to 11. For those of you wanting a laugh during this difficult time, I suggest watching “Spinal Tap.” Here is the short clip of the “These go to 11” scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW008FcKr3Q

  10. Polly

    >

  11. Once, upon being told that his socks don’t match, comedian Steven Wright said, “Yes they do. I match by thickness.”

  12. I loved this! Thank you for this diversion. I so appreciate having Dan’s blog and all of the wonderful contributors.

  13. Mark Bachmann

    HIlarious – thank you, Mr. Greenwald! We all need to do our best to keep it loose until things get better.

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