Put on Your Quarantine Pants

We Southern Baptists had an expression growing up which was: “You cannot be a deacon if your waist is less than 38 inches.”

The idea is that nobody can trust a skinny deacon who doesn’t understand the finer points of fried chicken, which is the basis for fundamentalist religion.

We also had a cute expression in our church that went: “If you dance at a wedding reception you will rot in hell.”

Ha ha! We Baptists sure were a fun group. This is why many of us still see therapists on a weekly basis.

But our deacons really did have large waists. One of my childhood deacons was a big man named Brother Willie. Willie sold insurance, hunted deer, and did not go to wedding receptions unless they had fried chicken. He was a chicken fanatic.

Willie was always first in line at potlucks. He would cut in front of everyone, including kids, elderly people, and brittle diabetics. Without the slightest shred of humor, he’d say, “Excuse me, ma’am, official chicken gizzard inspector.”

At first, most people thought he was joking. But you should have seen the way Deacon Willie ate gizzards. It was anything but comedy. It was more like a steamy romance.

But I’m getting off track here. Ever since my wife and I have been self-quarantining due to the COVID-19 outbreak, my wife has been cooking a lot. And I mean all day. There is not a moment when she is not flouring counters or warming the butter by placing the butter dish on the clothes dryer.

She’s been cooking so much that our walls are covered in a film of pure grease. If you trace your finger along our ceiling you’ll find a centimeter of peanut oil and atomized chicken sludge.

We have been eating tons of fried chicken. Not only because my wife and I were both raised Baptist, but because we have been stuck in the same house for 18 days. Within these last weeks, my wife has fried—and this is no exaggeration—23,934 chickens.

She has also cooked pork ribs, rump roast, ribeye steaks, pork loins, meatloaf, Virginia hams, hog shoulders, deep-fried backstraps, venison sausage, and whole roasted musk ox.

At first, all this decadence was wonderful. But now I’m noticing that my pants are tight. That’s the thing about quarantines. You don’t realize your pants are getting smaller because for these past 18 days you have not been wearing traditional pants. The pants you’ve been wearing are pajama pants, which all have elastic waists and cute little Teddy bears printed on the fabric.

Pajama pants are great, don’t get me wrong. When you’re wearing these little babies you’re in a happy place. You’re eating ham sandwiches, popping biscuits like aspirin, dancing around the house like you’re at your aunt Cheryl’s wedding reception. But then everything comes to a halt when you try on your trousers.

Today, for example, I tried on my jeans. I couldn’t get them buttoned without using a crowbar and a jar of Vaseline. So I called my wife in from the other room. “Help! I can’t get my pants buttoned!”

Here is exactly what happened: My wife came walking into the bedroom holding a spoon, saying, “Will you taste this pimento cheese, is it too oniony? I thought we could use something to snack on.”

So now you see why I’m gaining weight. But don’t feel sorry for be, because the thing is, I don’t want to go back to eating like we did before the quarantine. Back then we were eating boring things. Occasionally we even ate, if you can believe this, whole-grain cereal.

But now our lives are rich, well lubricated, and everyone is in a good mood because our diet is 90 percent bacon grease.

My wife descends from a long line of cooks who believe that all prepared dishes can benefit from dollops of bacon grease, including peanut butter sandwiches and tossed garden salads.

I am still not making this up when I tell you that my wife’s father used to home-make salad dressing with bacon grease. Even his barbecue sauce was loaded with bacon grease. When it sat at room temperature, the stuff turned into a red fudgy brick.

Hey, I’m no prude. I love grease, I love pimento cheese, I love biscuits. But something has to give, and I don’t mean the seams on my Levis, if you catch my drift.

Then again, I know that nothing is going to change in our household, at least not any time soon. Because while I write this, I can smell strong aromas coming from our kitchen.

My wife is baking a pound cake.

I don’t know why she’s doing this. Is she trying to kill me? I’ve told her time and again that there is no need for pound cake. She totally ignores me.

Just like she ignored me yesterday when I insisted there was no need for a hot apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream, melted caramel, crushed walnuts, toasted butter pecans, and a crumbled Heath bar. Neither was there a need to prepare banana pudding in a dish the size of a No. 9 washtub and leave it in the fridge.

But I guess there are some burdens in life that you have to bear. Maybe that’s what this quarantine has been teaching me all along; that the world is unpredictable, uncertain, and there’s nothing you can do to control it. So you might as well break out the pajama pants and practice being a deacon.

Now if you’d step aside, I need to check those gizzards.


  1. throughmyeyesusa - April 3, 2020 7:13 am

    Stop it right now, Sean! This is going to be the next scourge; all the excess weight gained during six weeks of idleness and eating from stress and boredom. Worse, Covid19 strikes the obese and diabetics harder and progresses faster in such patients. That said we all know your gift for hyperbole, so you aren’t really eating all that stuff, are you? Stay safe, and exercise!

  2. aclownn - April 3, 2020 7:37 am

    “Sell my clothes, I’ve gone to heaven. “

  3. Jannie Bug - April 3, 2020 7:44 am

    Gizzards…why do I not think of these delights, when I’m shopping in the meat section at Publix?!

    I love gizzards! My father was a poultry farmer in the Florida Panhandle, and he had the hatchery, egg processing plant, chicken processing plant and trucks to deliver primarily to the local grocery stores and the military bases from Panama City to Pensacola. Having a poultry processing plant…or even a Father that has one…had its perks!

    Only the whole chickens that were packaged intact had the giblet parts tucked into their bellies. The chickens that were cut up into various pieces graciously donated their “giblets” to the huge receptacle that contained all of those hearts and gizzards and necks and livers. The workers knew to set aside a container of giblets for us to take home.

    The hearts and the gizzards were my favorites, and I had dibs on them anytime we ate chicken at home. That crunchy and crispy batter perfectly seasoned and fried to perfection was what fried chicken was all about! Thanks for the reminder…

    I’m supposed to shelter in place, but I think I will call the Lindy’s chicken place to see if they deliver to the curb!

  4. Sandi. - April 3, 2020 7:53 am

    Reading this post gave me a king-sized case of the munchies! I think I’ll bake a pound cake!

  5. Lucretia - April 3, 2020 8:35 am

    Wow, Sean, it must be part of the ole-time southern quarantine experience, yesterday I drove to the nearest KFC to get a bucket of fried chicken, original recipe, for just my husband and I. Wish I could drop by and pick up some of your wife’s delights at the curb! Thank you for still being there!

  6. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - April 3, 2020 9:10 am

    Aren’t pj’s wonderful? And bacon grease!
    Been doing plenty of boredom cooking myself. Blueberry Cream Cheese Crumb Cake last night. We only ate half of it so far.
    I bet the dogs are loving this.
    Stay safe!

  7. Greyn - April 3, 2020 11:14 am

    Don’t know all the questions, but grilled conecuh sausage is the answer to most of ‘em.

  8. Kathy Wilson - April 3, 2020 12:03 pm

    You sure keep me laughing. Thank you for your creative writings.

  9. Susan Averill - April 3, 2020 12:47 pm

    I think they call it Covid 19 because it’s like the Freshman 15, just 4 pounds more.

  10. Ann - April 3, 2020 12:49 pm

    I just gained 3#… hopefully my laughter will burn off some of those calories….thank you 😂😂😂

  11. Donna - April 3, 2020 12:56 pm

    Such blessing to have enough food supplies to engage in comfort cooking/eating sufficient to gain weight during unnerving times. BUT: are there sufficient TP supplies to see this situation through to it’s natural end?!?! LOL. As ever Thanks Sean 🙂

  12. Pat Thomason - April 3, 2020 1:03 pm

    I don’t know how to explain this phenomenon. We women are cooking up a storm, or want to, this entire shelter in place time. I think it has something to do with the “nesting” gene. We have to provide for our loved ones the best we know how.

  13. Mary Joy - April 3, 2020 1:07 pm

    We, too, are doing our part to save the retail grocery industry here in North Carolina. Our weekly shopping lists include items such as chips (yesterday alone 4 bags potato chips and 4 bags of tostitos) and dip, black beans and salsa, Robert’s chicken salad (made fresh in Wilmington NC – ya gotta try it), 12 pack of Blue Moon, and, I kid you now, a 16 fl oz bottle of Pepto Bismol. Dr. Pepper, ginger ale, and Tylenol.

    In the era now known as “BC” – that’s before CoVid19, skinny people were highly admired. I think that in the CoVid era, additional heft around the hips and waist will be a sign of deep faith. Stay safe, y’all.

  14. Betty F. - April 3, 2020 1:18 pm

    So funny… so accurate… we are going to be in a world of hurt when this is over when none of our clothes fit. Hahaha

  15. Betty F. - April 3, 2020 1:22 pm

    That is funny. Got to remember that line.

  16. Meredith Smith - April 3, 2020 2:13 pm

    Oh Sean, your wife is an angel 😇. I’m so hungry just reading your column. I’ve been in pj pants since this whole thing started. You made it safe to admit it. Well, actually I’ve been in pj pants since our Governor remanded us to stay home. 🙄 But we’ll get through this, as long as the grocery stores stay stocked. 😬

  17. Tammy Moody - April 3, 2020 2:41 pm

    Thanks buddy, now I’m starving! “Honey, do we have any bacon?!?”

  18. Cathy - April 3, 2020 2:42 pm

    I’m a convert to Southern Baptist from Methodist, but I don’t think Southern Baptists had deacons. Am I wrong?

  19. Judy Sears - April 3, 2020 2:45 pm

    My exercise today was searching for bigger fat pants. I also am going to have to go to rehab for cheeto addiction. My hands are permanently orange.

  20. Christina Lin - April 3, 2020 3:04 pm

    I love this. The heart warming comfort that’s irresistible.

  21. Van - April 3, 2020 3:09 pm

    A large batch of Margaret Holmes collard greens with a big bottle of Mack’s homemade pepper sauce!!! 😉 (then a nap!)

  22. Joel Black - April 3, 2020 3:28 pm

    Pants? What pants?

  23. Bobbie E - April 3, 2020 3:39 pm

    Sean, you read my mind! Pjs, elastic waistbands have been my uniform for 3 weeks now. Keep thinking I’ll try on my jeans in case I have to go out, but can’t bring myself to do it. As Scarlett said, ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow ‘
    There’s something about getting in the kitchen and baking or cooking something that feels ‘normal’. Maybe that’s why we do it. We all need normalcy right now. God bless you for being a blessed part of my normal….for still being there every morning. And God bless Jamie. I know she’s an amazing cook! Y’all stay safe❤️🐾🇺🇸🇺🇸

  24. Berryman Mary M - April 3, 2020 3:55 pm

    Haha haha! Good one, Sean! Tell Jamie that I’m a stress baker, too! I’ve been baking cookies! Thinking about maybe baking a pound cake! Problem is I have been to two stores and there’s NO FLOUR!!!! Who knew?? I didn’t realize there were so many other “stress” bakers out there. Maybe we should start a Facebook group!

  25. Linda Moon - April 3, 2020 4:25 pm

    Watching Deacon Willie eat gizzards would not be a steamy romance for me, who grew up eating lots of other good Southern Baptist food. But there were lots of love affairs for pound cakes baked by two of my many Aunts. Right now, I’d just like to join up with Steve Winwood and Put On My Dancing Shoes because “There’s so much going on out there, Leaves us hanging in the air, And it’s all that we can do, To face each day and see it through.” Some good food helps too, thanks to Jamie!!

  26. Patricia Gibson - April 3, 2020 7:45 pm

    I think all of us are cooking and eating too much. Laughing about changing sizes 😂😂

  27. Sarah Loudin Thomas - April 3, 2020 8:41 pm

    Two things: 1) putting butter on the dryer to soften is BRILLIANT 2) it’s called kilt lettuce and it’s an Appalachian delicacy. You fill a bowl with the first greens of spring, toss them in hot bacon grease and apple cider vinegar (with a little salt and sugar), then sprinkle the wilted mess with chopped green onions and bacon. Man. I’m hungry.

  28. Sandi. - April 3, 2020 9:08 pm

    Cathy, yes, there are deacons in Southern Baptist churches.

  29. Shirley Eileen Taylor - April 3, 2020 9:53 pm


  30. Mike Bone - April 3, 2020 10:01 pm

    In order to be a Southern Baptist you have to make a public profession of faith AND own an 8 X 12 casserole dish.

  31. Molly - April 3, 2020 10:31 pm

    I just sat down to read this after popping a triple layer coconut cake into the oven for the two of us. Jammie pants here we come!

  32. Susan Kennedy - April 4, 2020 12:38 am

    Ha!! I love this! Perfect!

  33. Esteban - April 4, 2020 2:12 am

    Sean, I love your writing and I love you. You write with love and all of us need that. To give and receive. But easy on the bacon grease etc, lest you follow the footsteps of your hero, Lewis Grizzard. You are a national treasure. We need you, man. So easy on the saturated fats, and get your lipids checked. Please take this gentle rebuke in the spirit with which it was written. Can’t help myself. I’m a retired physician.

  34. Gail - April 4, 2020 3:17 am

    Yes, Southern Baptist’s have deacons!

  35. barmor4119 - April 4, 2020 10:06 pm

    Baptists do have Deacons.

  36. Jayne Harbour - April 4, 2020 11:38 pm

    Lordy, we used to have good hot bacon grease salads when growing up!

  37. Allen PhDude - April 5, 2020 4:30 am

    I feel for you in your suffering. I want you to know, I’m on the way to help! I’ll bring a sleeping bag, and my hammock. I can string it up between a couple of trees in the yard, leastwise until I gain so much weight I split the seams on the parachute material.

    Fear not! Relief is comin’!

  38. Robert Chiles - April 5, 2020 4:59 pm

    Three or four days ago, my wife made some scratch Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies that made your eyes roll back in your head.

  39. Jan Hilton - April 6, 2020 10:33 pm

    So glad to know someone else knows the joy of a rump roast! I’d write more of a comment, but it’s snack time — again.

  40. Brian - May 15, 2020 2:57 am

    Cajun Conecuh on a fresh roll and spicy brown mustard.

  41. Aunt Si or Martha Black - May 15, 2020 6:56 am

    Oh sweety………
    Let me help you………
    Here’s a delicious salad that send you down the road shouting! Salad, yes…….. A Sah-lad’
    Fill a good mixing bowl full of wild or tame lettuce shredded (you can have all you want, build a big un,) add small slices or slivers if sweet onion all over it, shred in a carrot on a cheese grater as much as you want, then add in slivers of good firm radishes. Season well with salt & coarse black pepper & toss lightly. Now to dress this wonderful concoction, pour a gentle little (yeah right) stream of warm bacon drippings (your measure) & sprinkle at least a half pound or just go “whole hog”, to say, and add a whole pound of crispy curly fried ba-con’ all over. Toss gently to coat sweetly, grab a fork & dig in. If anybody aske d what you had for supper you can truthfully tell tgem, just a salad. You dont have to tell them the size, abundance or too many other details like dressing. Just a nice healthy salad……. Around my neck of the woods we call it wilted lettuce salad but up higher in the Appalachian mountainous region, they call it “kilt salad” (I imagine you can understand why). All I can say honey, is it “heaven devine”. Good eats!

  42. Diane - May 15, 2020 1:06 pm

    You are PRICELESS … and I need to go take a walk!

  43. Linda Crawford - May 15, 2020 1:48 pm

    There are 3 of us here. I made a 3 layer Red Velvet cake with French using. They each had a piece. I ate the rest.

  44. Margaret Roy - May 15, 2020 2:07 pm

    Mmm mmm love Conecuh sausage! When my daughter moved to Arkansas 20 years sgo, she told the local Kroger manager about this delicacy, and they now carry it. Nothing better!

  45. Sandi. - May 15, 2020 7:27 pm

    Linda, precisely what is “French using” and how does it tie in to a red velevet cake? Curious here ….

  46. Donna McPherson - May 16, 2020 2:56 am

    Sorry Cathy but yes, indeed you are wrong. Southern Baptists have boards full of deacons.


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