I predicted this. The COVIDiots, freed from some of their restraints in some states to do some things, are beginning to swarm. The darn shame is that some of them are the governors of some states, hold high office, or just generally believe that no one gets to be the boss-of-them, like the guy on the block who paints his house lime green and parks his truck on the lawn. The other darn shame is that the scientists who actually know how pandemics work don’t appeal to the rebellious impulses of this crowd. Maybe we should dress up Dr. Fauci in a T-shirt and combat boots, give him a hat that says something hostile, teach him how to yell, and send him out with a new image. Maybe he could become an inciter for good.
It will start with social-distancing beach walks and end with Lollapalooza, I can see it now.
But first, I have a confession to deliver. Ms.Crankypants (and Mr. Crankypants) have been COVIDiots too. On February 27th, almost two months in, after weeks of briefings and education, articles, and daily news bulletins, we climbed on a plane, a full plane, to go to New York City. We were excited for the chance to see Hamilton again and had been preparing hard – multiple listens to the soundtrack, Ron Chernow’s book that Lin-Manuel Miranda took on vacation with him (who takes a 700-pager to relax with?), and the insiders’ account by Lin and critic Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton: The Revolution, of the birth and delivery of the production. I always say, when you encounter genius, encounter it hard.
Plus, in our defense, the day before we left, the news reports said that NYC had no cases of COVID-19, so we thought we were fine. We saw two plays cuddled up next to folks in those old-timey theaters, ate in crowded restaurants, shared elevators, and walked the streets day and night in a city that we now know was teeming with undiagnosed COVID-19. Once we were home two days later, the light started to dawn about the risk we’d taken. Two weeks later, it looked like we’d dodged the bullet, saved by chance. What idiots! So, when I’m going after the other COVIDiots, know that I am going after myself too. A little slow on the uptake there, wasn’t I? I’d like to think that cured me from my cluelessness.
So, me, the new woke me, is not going to stroll these streets unmasked, breathing down other peoples’ necks, congregating, shopping, restaurant-ing until…when? Testing is done? There are proven treatments? The vaccine or vaccines are here and administered? I feel rising anxiety as I write this – I want a quick return to normalcy too.
But step by step, day by day is the only way I know to get through tough times. It doesn’t seem to help to look too far ahead, or to pretend that we aren’t still at risk, like the COVIDiots and their inciters would like to think. We are a resilient species, or we wouldn’t have lasted this long. But let’s use everything we’ve got – privileging our brains over our impulses – to proceed carefully, step by step, watching for evidence that what we’re doing is a good idea. The first step is not a mani-pedi, or for the fellas, Jagermeister Night at the newly opened bar.
So, who am I, critics would say, to blast other folks and call them idiots? I am Cranky, remember? At least I cop to my own mistakes, which we could use a little more of in this pandemic. Do you expect me to sit here politely while the idiots set us up for Round Two?