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Most of us have become germophobes

It was just last month that I met up with an old friend over breakfast at the Denny’s Restaurant on March Lane in Stockton near Interstate 5.

The location was a convenient meeting place given Ben Nicholas lives just off the freeway and I had just finished doing a Body Combat class at the In-Shape gym on Quail Lake.

Even then we were quite aware of COVID-19. The coronavirus hadn’t reached the pandemic stage and, even at that, no one imagined how much life would change in such a short period of time.

Yet it did and we’re all having to adjust to this new normal.

The new normal is catching Gov. Gavin Newsom, President Trump or Dr. Anthony Fauci – he’s an immunologist and the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as if we didn’t already know that – providing the latest update on this global pandemic.

The new normal is hearing now that wearing a face cloth, mask or any covering over your nose and mouth is highly recommended in public.

The new normal has converted most of us into germophobes. Some more extreme than others. I know I’m cleaning the house more so than before thanks to Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home orders.

Speaking of which, I’ve used this time to reconnect with old friends outside of social media. It’s been great to hear the voices of old college buddies, former roommates and work colleagues, and family members. Next up is telecommunicating via Zoom – I think we’re doing Zoom family Easter this Sunday?

I’m also spending more time logging on to YouTube. In particular, food shows such as Sam the Cooking Guy – check out his Quarantine Shows such as “Lockdown Munchies” – and actually made some of his pasta dishes.

As for binge watching TV shows? I’m not there yet. I just watched the first few episodes of “The Hunters” starring Al Pacino on Amazon Prime and continue to hear plenty of raves about “Ozark,” “Tiger King,” and “Narcos” on Netflix. This past weekend, I also caught “Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” and continue to click on to the numerous documentaries during my free time.

The new normal means no gym – at least for now. Did I mention Body Combat? I miss those classes along with interacting with the regular gym goers and instructors. I haven’t logged on to the Facebook workouts offered by some of my fitness instructors. However, I did reconnect with my old running and cycling partner. We managed to do a few rides on our road bikes around town recently and just did several miles running in and around the campus of the University of the Pacific just the other day. All the while using social distancing during those workouts.

The new normal has closed off eating areas at restaurants. How long is anyone’s guess? Just meeting an old friend at Denny’s served as a reminder of how life used to be not too long ago. Ben and I both ordered the Grand Slam that morning in early March – we sure enjoyed those pancakes and hash browns and, of course, the great conversation from two old friends.

If this new normal has taught me anything is that my diet is much better thanks to an improved cooking thanks to YouTube. And since I’m trying to minimize my encounters with people at the supermarkets, I’ve been hitting the produce stands along Highway 120 for my fix of fresh fruits and veggies.

Here’s to staying at home, staying safe, and maintaining good health for all. This new normal does have its pluses.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail