I live in an assisted living facility. Covid-19 has destroyed one of our central pleasures—food.

Our meals tasted so much better on real plates.

I guess this could be called “solitary confinement.” And to think we always complained about having to go to the dining room to eat. To do that now, just once, to be with others, would be a treat. I guess they are just protecting us, us old folks, with our diabetes, our bad hearts, our osteoporosis, and whatever else exists in our worn-out bodies. Whatever we have, in addition to just being old, puts us in the group most vulnerable to Covid-19. At first, I welcomed this change with meals. I just stayed in my pajamas all day, thankful for Netflix.

They call it “assisted living.” They come, the various aides, with our meals, packed in that white foam rubbish, instead of on real plates. The food tasted so, so much better on real plates. I miss the water, with lots of ice, in glass goblets. They don’t bother with the salad and soup like they used to. They’re too busy delivering meals to all the apartments.

To think we always complained about having to go to the dining room to eat.

We don’t even get to complain about things like, “I didn’t order French, I ordered ranch.” We don’t get to order a second bowl of soup. Come to think about it, we haven’t had soup in a while either. We used to have it every day—a delicious, homemade-style soup. I guess soup just doesn’t hold up well in that foam junk.

I wonder when things will get back to normal, especially around mealtime. Or if this is our new normal.

Yesterday, I got dressed for the first time in days. It would be good for my morale, or so I thought. For lunch, they served some kind of sausage on a bun. They included a little cup of something yellow. I think it was mustard. I don’t like mustard. If we’d been eating in the dining room, I would have just pushed it aside. But now I eat sitting in my recliner. When I went to open that foam container, I found a small, open cup of yellow stuff resting uneasily against the side. It tumbled out. And on the one day I chose to ditch my pajamas and get dressed, I watched as a pool of yellow stuff, probably mustard, spread across my stomach, a fresh stain on my favorite blouse.

Lois Pritzlaff is a resident of the Meadowmere Assisted Living Facility in West Allis, Wisconsin. Following a stint as a reporter, during the 1970s, through the early 1990s, Lois saw over 500 of her articles published in magazines such as Organic Gardening and various craft magazines. She continues to write occasionally to this day.