Life columnist

Linda Braden Albert worked as a feature writer and editor at The Daily Times. She is now the editor of Horizon Magazine and a columnist.

In this surreal time in history, there are some things I never would have expected to hear coming out of my mouth. Take, for example, a question I asked just prior to one of the first Zoom meetings of the Empty Pantry Fund board last fall: “So, is everybody wearing pants?” referring to those coffee commercials where people are fully dressed from the waist up and attending meetings in their underwear.

Keep in mind that these fine people are friends I’ve known for years so we are a bit more informal than we would be in a different environment, especially before the meeting officially began. The consensus was that yes, we were all fully dressed. Treasurer Tony Clark even stood to demonstrate that he was, saying at the exact moment another member of the board signed on, “I’m just showing Linda that I do have pants on.” Perhaps Tony explained the meaning of that statement later on, but I’m sure there was a question in the mind of the latecomer as to why he felt the need to confirm his attire for the day. Or, since he’s known us both for so long, perhaps he wasn’t surprised at all.

I’ve discovered a couple of new phrases birthed by our COVID world, too. First is “COVID Chic,” defined as the look some of us now sport after not having our hair cut and/or colored in almost a year. I’m rocking it, let me tell ya. My hair has never been as long as it is now, even when I was a teenager in the ’70s. At first, I stayed home because I didn’t want to risk getting sick; then, even when my snipping buddy Jo was back at work, I thought I’d wait and see just how long I could go without a cut. It became a game — hey, in this day and age, we get our fun where we can — but now the time has come to stop. I do enjoy being able to braid my hair but when I’m in bed half asleep and try to turn over and can’t because I’m lying on that braided rope, it gets rather annoying. I had intended to go another few months just to see Jo’s face when I walk in, but I don’t think I’m gonna make it much longer.

Next up is Quarantine Ten, which is the 10 pounds people are tending to put on while stuck at home. I’m rocking that one, too, unfortunately. The sad thing is, I’m accustomed to working at home so nothing has changed in that regard in almost four years. My downfall began when I let my guard down at Halloween. I know better than to buy Halloween candy in advance for my grandkids. It never makes it until trick-or-treating and I end up having to buy more. This time, I bought more several times. … We’ll leave it at that. I’m back on the wagon at last, and my fridge is stocked with fresh fruits and veggies.

This next story has nothing to do with the pandemic but falls in the category of “Things you never expected to say ... or hear.”

A friend was driving on a very rural road near where she and her husband are constructing a cabin for weekend getaways in the western portion of East Tennessee. She called me later that day and said she nearly had an incident with a bull. He was huge, looked like a Texas longhorn, and he was as mad as a wet hen. She surmised he had escaped from wherever he was supposed to have been and was not happy to be at the place he was, at that time in the middle of a narrow, paved road in a place without cellphone reception.

My friend stopped and thought she’d try to ease around him carefully. Then, she noticed that he was stomping his foot and giving her the evil eye.

“I stepped on the gas as hard as I could and got around him,” she told me, laughing. “He was getting ready to charge me! He stomped his foot again and chased me down the road!” When she got to a place with cell reception and no bull, she called the sheriff’s office and reported it. On the way home the next day, the critter wasn’t in sight so she reckoned his owner had claimed him and put him where he needed to be.

I asked her if she ever thought she’d be telling me about a Texas longhorn trying to charge her on a country road in East Tennessee. Nope.

And that’s no bull. Really.

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at

LindasInkyfingers@comcast.net.

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