Wow, I am starting to feel like my old self, spring in the step, walking into a big box store to buy stakes for my new Thompson seedless vines, all the while leaving my mask in the car. Dare I risk it?
The governor says it’s okay to show my face now; but he is a former ice cream store owner/operator, so I am not sure he really gets anything other than trying to look and act conservative in a state that is quickly turning purple. (Another guy born with his finger in the air, under the sign of the God Janus.)
I look around me as I, for the first time in a year (?), venture about maskless, Crazy Nancy’s ‘spark of divinity’ evident upon my radiant face as I smile at those other shoppers and employees who are the real reason I shop where I shop. Got my mojo back? The fourth first lady is having a difficult time catching up as I am moving quickly towards the goal of my shopping mission – those manly, metal stakes that will soon support my beautiful red and green seedless bombs of sugar and love. I realize that even if my vines flourish, they still won’t yield anything close to a Sauvignon Blanc, but one can dream. …
Mr. Narrator (interrupts): “Richard Edward, snap out of it. Put your mask on. Most everyone else in the store is wearing one. Why do you think you are special? You want to cause a problem? You might cause a riot or even worse, drive complaints to Karen, the store manager. You really want that?”
Richard Edward: “Hey Mr. Narrator, chill, okay? The governor said I don’t have to wear one anymore. He said that COVID is defeated. He said that it’s up to the store to decide about the efficacy of mask wearing. So, if the store makes the decision about wearing the mask, it’s really not about science anymore, it’s about how safe one feels.”
Mr. Narrator: “That’s the problem Richard Edward, your feelings. You have none. How can you be so callous towards your fellow man? Walking about unmasked, an existential threat to all you pass in the isles of capitalistic excess. You may want to live dangerously, but others around you, those who actively seek safe spaces, don’t feel the same way. Your unmasked countenance scares them. What if you breath on them? Your halitotic exhale could mean their death? Are you really that inhumane?”
Richard Edward: “But science…. I’ve had COVID, Mr. Narrator. My doctor said I have the antibodies. No one talks about those of us who have been sick and recovered, only those who have the vaccine and those who don’t. I can’t infect anyone because I can’t get this again, at least not so soon after my recovery. I am the safest guy in the hood to be around. I am not vaccinated, but I am not contagious, either.”
Mr. Narrator: “Richard Edward, you are worse than a pair of Tony Fauci flip flops worn under a mask and tie. You can’t be safe if you are not vaccinated. Dr. Tony didn’t say you are safe, so you can’t be. Are you one of those who might have herd immunity? No one in authority talks about ‘you’, the deplorable, ‘recovered-survivors’ tribe. Your people have been ignored. Dude, you either got the jab or you didn’t.”
Then it hits me, I am neither hot nor cold, fish nor fowl. I am once again the forgotten man, one of those who got the disease, recovered and is now simply a hidden statistic. I am stuck in the middle. Deep, or as deep as is possible in my brain, the music rises, a familiar melody surfaces from my pre-mask life.
Trying to make some sense of it all
But I see it makes no sense at all.
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor?
I don’t think that I can take anymore.
Clowns to the left of me!
Jokers to the right!
Here I am stuck in the middle with you.
Mr. Narrator appears to be correct once again. As much as it pains me, he occasionally makes sense. Yes, I am well and not likely to pass along the dreaded COVID to anyone. Yes, there are antibodies coursing through my body, my bone marrow doing its tireless job 24/7 of keeping me safe.
No, I have no proof to show the store Karens who patrol our aisles of commerce, our passageways of daily life, that I am not a threat.
I don’t want the jab. It’s more dangerous for me than what I have already survived.
So, here I am stuck in the middle of the lingering controversy of the biggest health issue of our decade. The clowns to the left of me insist that I get a vaccination that medicine and science say I most likely don’t need. The jokers to my right appear too afraid to argue the herd immunity case; they don’t want to recognize people like me who have survived and now contribute to the herd’s defense against the disease.
Being stuck anywhere is a drag, but being stuck in the middle is the worst. If you are in the middle like Richard Edward, please leave a comment about the clowns and jokers who are on either side of your life.
— Richard Edward Tracy