The man’s wife is driving him crazy. He’s 57. Shukan Gendai (Aug 21-28) gives him the pseudonym Kento Toyojima. They’d always been a harmonious couple. Then COVID-19 came between them.
“She’s terrified of getting infected,” Toyojima tells the magazine. “She checks up on every little thing I do.”
He works for a printing company, and goes to the office every day. “When I come home I have to tell her every little thing I did, everywhere I went, everyone I met. If I had lunch with someone she heaps abuse on me: ‘You’re careless!’”
His vexation is understandable – but his wife has a point too. A lot of attention has focused lately on the “nightless city” – bars, host and hostess clubs and so on – as a prime source of infection, but more dangerous still, says Shukan Gendai – in fact the most dangerous of all – is the home. Statistics bear this out. In the week from July 29 to Aug 4, 175 infections in Tokyo were recorded as originating in night spots – as against 239 originating at home.
The couple’s two kids walk to school, where life is carefully supervised, and the wife stays home. Toyojima, then, is the only one who deals with the outside world more or less normally, taking trains, meeting people and so on. What can he do – withdraw from life altogether? Of course not – and so he runs certain risks, which his wife, he feels, magnifies out of all proportion.
“She’s sensitive to the point of hysteria,” he says. “She treats me as though I were the virus itself.”
Home from work at 8 p.m., he reaches for the door knob and suddenly freezes – he must wipe it first! Then there’s his briefcase – fortunately he remembered before walking into the house with it, which would have triggered a spousal explosion. Sighing, he removes from it the documents he needs and tosses the bag into the car.
Once inside, he heads straight for the bath – his wife will not greet him otherwise. Only then does the family sit down to dinner.
“Hysterical” this may be, and one can sympathize with the harassed husband, but Shukan Gendai gives the wife her due. She’s quite right, for example, about door knobs. Viruses live long on metal surfaces – 24 to 48 hours, as opposed to 8 hours on tile. Wiping the knob before touching it hardly comes naturally, but it is common sense.
Her insistence on separating her husband’s laundry, though, seems excessive. “There’s no case anywhere in the world,” says a qualified expert the magazine speaks to, of viral transmission via clothing.
All things considered, it seems better to err on the side of caution. “Don’t’s” abound: don’t share chopsticks, or eat off a common plate, or handle the TV remote control with sticky fingers, or sit on a toilet seat without sanitizing it, or sleep in the same room with someone if you can help it – if not, keep a minimum 2 meters between you.
Handwashing should be thorough and frequent. If carried on in normal times it would seem like a fetish. The question arises: will we be able to shake these corona-habits when normal times return?
Shukan Gendai draws a melancholy conclusion: “The more you think about it, the more avoiding affection at home seems almost impossible.” The stress and anxiety of trying are themselves a drain on health and well-being. Where does that leave us? Stressed and anxious – and vulnerable.© Japan Today