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Hill: A visit to the ABC Store

Sheridan Hill
Special to Black Mountain News

I generally go to the liquor store once a year, in November, to get rum for Christmas rum cakes. But, shucks, I hadn’t thought to buy any rubbing alcohol until today, and that shelf at Ingles is bare, with a new sign that reads: Limit 2 per customer. (Thank you, Ingles, for imposing limits so that all of us can have some instead of some of us having lots.)

There is another store in town that sells alcohol, so I drive down the road a tad to the liquor store. Mary (whom you might remember from the nursery on State Street where Mellie Mac’s now is) looks at me from behind the counter.

I figure 150 proof would equate to at least 60 percent alcohol, thus meeting the CDC requirements for sanitizing one's hands against coronavirus.

“What kind of liquor is at least 150 proof ?” I ask, and she smiles.

“We’ve been having a run on that,” she says, walking me to the aisle of Everclear. At first sight, I get visions of scruffy-faced men in dirty clothes on the roadside with that empty bottle next to them. Besides that, the price of the cheapest grain alcohol is still more than three times the cost of a bottle of rubbing alcohol. I’m not that desperate. Yet.

And I remember that, over and over again, the Centers for Disease Control points to the best first defense as “washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”

Friends, I highly recommend NOT looking at how fast the virus is spreading. Stop looking at social media, where misinformation is spreading faster than the virus itself. Consider looking at the news only every other day, and just check the World Health Organization website, or the website of the Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov.

My nurse friend BC has called me to comment on my recent column on COVID-19. So if you will read the rest of this paragraph, you’ll help Nurse BC’s feathers flatten back down. Clarifications to what I wrote last time include: COVID-19 is the name of the disease we all hope we don’t get. But the name of the virus itself is SARS-CoV-2. Under a microscope, the virus resembles a solar eclipse, when the sun’s corona is visible. Viruses are bundles of genetic information encased in a protein shell, and you want to limit ways it can get to you and get into your eyes, nose, and mouth in particular.

As for the problem at hand, keep in mind that having people stay put was the biggest tool used by China to curb the spread of the virus. Shutting down businesses, telling people to stay at home and setting up drive-thru “fever clinics” IS how we shut this thing down. Those measures should make you feel great, help you feel safe.

Remember that taking this particular time seriously is the very step that will keep us all healthier in the coming weeks.

“Basically every hard surface you touch might potentially have the virus on it unless you know it has been cleaned since the last person that you don’t know was there,” said Donald G. McNeil Jr., on the March 13 “The Daily” podcast from The New York Times.

McNeil, a science writer, has covered COVID-19 since 2019 for The Times.

Self-quarantine, staying home, can be a great gift. I realize some people will be going berserk staying home, but for me, as a writer, staying home is the best possible scenario. Especially if I have electricity, a good computer, caffeine, and archives to work through. All of which I have.

All you people who have been telling me throughout time that you just wish you had the time to write a book, guess what? Now you have no excuses. Put your rear in the chair and start writing.

Friends, think of this time as your chance to practice meditation. Find your notes from that chi-gong class you took. For heaven’s sake, read more!! Download Audible and put books in your listening library. Reading a good book can be wonderfully calming medicine.

Remember that this, too, will pass. Remember that walking in the fresh air and sunshine is one of the things you can do that both calms your central nervous system and helps create an environment that makes it more difficult for the virus to thrive.

As I step outside to walk around my neighborhood, the mountain air is moist and fragrant. The scent of early spring abounds. Maple trees are casting their first red buds of spring and dropping them to the earth. A Carolina wren is chirp, chirp, chirping her heart out, just like always.

Sheridan Hill

Sheridan Hill is a native Tar Heel whose company, Real Life Stories, LLC, produces Heirloom Biography for select clients.