This May, in the Second Year of Our Pandemic, 2021, was especially long. Certainly, it was a lot longer than May of 2020, of which I have no memory whatsoever.
I do not have any tattoos, but if I were to get a Commemorative Coronavirus Pandemic tattoo, it might be this:
A friend who lives in Europe told me recently they are anxiously still awaiting their vaccine. (Between writing the first draft of this post and publishing, I am happy to report they’ve now had their first jab).
The day before, I saw a Facebook post from someone I know here in New York who complained that “the whole world is brainwashed” above a posted graphic saying, “the unvaxxed have to wear mask to protect the vaxxinated.”
I am disturbed and haunted by it.
I can unfollow this person on FB, but I will still see them in person and regularly in real life. Someone with pets! You know, beloved animal companions, vaccinated for rabies, distemper, and West Nile?
One of my brothers is taking a break from social media; he’s missing out on the vaccine selfies, the proud graduation photos, the puppies, the ads for washable rugs and knitted sneakers, the hot takes, the old memes, and the bad news.
My mother was the sort of old school reader of books about social courtesies who believed that good manners dictate that one not point out another’s bad manners. The 21st Century extension of this rule is that one might abstain from commenting on a bad take.
The bad take in question had some enthusiastic support from friends and family (insert cringing noises here), and some genuinely concerned replies from mutuals, who hate to see a seemingly nice person humiliate themself on a rude, science-denying, loud, public fart.
I scrolled on, closed Facebook, and tried for days not to think about it.
I have not stopped thinking about it.
The brainwashed believers in a coronavirus pandemic? Includes me, and every other intelligent person I know. Brainwashed people with advanced degrees. Vaccinated as soon as they were eligible. Helping people in their lives find appointments. Anxious to get 80% of America vaccinated. Brainwashing isn’t real, but science is.
The vaccinated people still wearing masks? Me, at times. My husband, too. Out of a desire not to expose people who haven’t gotten their shots yet. Out of habit. In deference to 27,504 hospitalized people in the U.S. Out of a desire not to make anyone else uncomfortable. Out of an abundance of caution. In memory of 594,051 dead Americans. As an example.
The meme they shared? From someone who is getting attention for their contrary takes (with an extra grammatical error to own the libs). From someone who could be themselves vaccinated. Definitely something that we could use a lot less of.
I wish I could stick with my instinct to ignore the post. I record it here for my future self. To remind me of the time when the vaccine was becoming more widely available, when still not everyone had it yet, when it wasn’t something you could just ask each other about, when it wasn’t clear if enough people were going to get on board, when we didn’t know if we were ever going to be getting past some people wearing masks and others disliking it.
My brother who has gone off Facebook is happier without it (for now).
Me? If no one in my life is going to graduate from something soon, maybe I’ll have to make some puppies.