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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Locked Down, Wiped Out

For any readers unaware, I live in the Boston area. As in, Boston Metro. As in, when the bomber-related “city lockdown” froze the Hub for the better part of twenty-four hours today, my wife and I were included in the shut-inedness.

(Happily — for a number of reasons — we’re living in Brookline now, adjacent to Boston and just a gentle skip down the street to Fenway Park. Before this, we lived in Watertown — which is famous today, but at the time roughly as exciting as the water it was named after.

As a matter of fact, our old house is roughly a block from where the police caught the second suspect, apparently attempting some sort of landlocked hillside boat-jacking. And our old place had lots of scary potential hidey holes — an underporch, a basement, nooks and crannies in the attic, an ivy-covered dog kennel. If the cops had swept us in the manhunt, I don’t think I’d have wanted them to leave again.

I’m not sure how a SWAT commando would react, exactly, if one threw oneself at his knees and begged him not to leave. But I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t end well.)

It could have been much more harrowing for us, sitting as we were several miles from the craziness. Throughout the day, there was no strong indication the guy-on-the-run was still where they thought he was. But neither were there alerts that he was headed for our neighborhood, either. So it was worrying, and surreal, and riveting as we swapped TV stations hoping for new intel — but mostly, we were left to a more mundane and domestic horror.

Because it couldn’t be that easy. Not in my world.

“Who drinks water in an emergency? Frankly, that seems like piling on a little.”

I wouldn’t say the missus and I were well-prepared for a full day’s ‘hunker’ in the condo, because we weren’t. There was food, yes — but not the sort that goes together in a sane person’s meal. I think I ate leftover refried beans on bread heels for dinner, and I seem to have blocked lunch from memory in some kind of culinary mental defense mechanism.

Still, that was fine. We weren’t going to starve, and we had modest stocks of soda and beer, when needed. Probably water, too. I don’t know. Who drinks water in an emergency? Frankly, that seems like piling on a little.

The thing we didn’t have — or have much of — was toilet paper.

I noticed in the morning that we were running a little low in the bathroom. Not out, entirely, but dangerously receding. If TP were hair, we were in that desperate ‘combover phase’, when it’s obvious there’s something left, but the end is abundantly clear.

I popped over to the hall closet for a restock, and found the cupboard bare. We were overdue for a grocery run — hence the ‘Chopped’ mystery baskey-style eating arrangements — and Cottonelle was likely on the list. High on the list. Hopefully first.

There began the standoff. We were two people, trapped in a condo. Locked down and cut off, with a scant few squares of pillowy goodness standing between us and… what? Kleenex? Printer paper? Emergency ass showers? The implications were grim.

Worse, we didn’t know how long it would last. Would they find this yahoo in the next house they checked? Would we be at the Stop ‘n’ Shop, squeezing Charmin by noon? Or would it last for days? Should we start rationing now, cutting squares into pieces and labeling by date? Or have one last luxurious wipe, to hold us while hell broke loose?

I don’t know the right answer. I suspect the wrong answer was to eat leftover refried beans on bread heels, but dammit, by dinnertime I was desperate. And it was either that or a pita pocket smeared with relish. War is hell, son.

In the end, we squeaked out the roll. We each took a bathroom break during the day, but we — well, I suppose I can’t speak for my wife directly, but I — played it conservative. Made the most of limited resources. Didn’t leave everything out on the field. Kept one for the team, so to speak.

And now you’re wishing it was this part I repressed from memory. Stupid brain.

Anyway, we made it through the day — and with a square or two to spare. No paper towels — or curtains or wax paper or the neighbor’s bichon frise — were sullied in the course of this ordeal.

In the grand scheme of things, a small victory among giant wins and heroic efforts. But one more reason to believe our bowels will be looser and relaxed tomorrow.

Especially if any of those beans are left over. Yowza.

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