Frequently these days part of a line from the band Live’s song “Lightning Crashes” keeps running through my head — “the confusion sets in.” There’s another line in that song about placenta that gets less airtime in my brain and really isn’t apropos to this column, but damn if I didn’t write about it anyway.
But it’s really the confusion I’m talking about, not placenta. We live in completely confusing times, which could be considered a massive understatement at the very least and mind-numbingly obvious at the most. Need examples? I’ve got them.
We don’t even know how to greet one another anymore. The hug is clearly out, but sometimes we instinctively go in for one anyway and it turns into something that looks like one person tried to kiss another person who did not want to be kissed. There are strange waves. Do you fist bump or elbow bump? Half the time one person is going fist and the other elbow. Or there’s also the air fist bump. All of it leads to awkward laughter. And every now and then people say “screw it” and just give you a handshake, look around to see if any handshake Nazis are around, then chug a quart of hand sanitizer.
It’s the same thing with masks. We are under state and local orders to wear them, but from my observations, it’s done piecemeal by just about everyone, including the people who passed the ordinances in the first place. A guy was tossed out of a Mobile City Council meeting last week for taking his mask off in the back of the room away from everyone else and was called out by councilors who weren’t wearing masks.
When the ordinance was passed a few weeks ago, the head of the Mobile County Health Department walked up to speak into a microphone that had been used by several other people and immediately let his mask dangle from one ear. Meanwhile, Councilman Levon Manzie, who sponsored the ordinance, took his mask off three or four times, and only two of the seven councilors even had masks. But let’s not forget everyone needs to wear masks at all times.
It’s confusing stuff, to say the least.
So, you go to Publix and everyone is wearing a mask, including the checkout people who have now started asking me what I’m going to do with the food I buy or if I’m going home to cook or just “chill.” That is also really confusing to me, as well as creepy. Can’t a guy just sit in a tub full of raw chicken parts anymore without answering a quiz first?!
If I go to any bar or restaurant, almost no one is wearing a mask, and they’re sitting far closer together than I ever get to anyone at the grocery store. Now the bars can’t sell alcohol after 11 p.m., but aren’t people who want to go to bars just going to go earlier? That’s what we’ve been told for years by people who advocated for earlier bar closing times. Is CV-19 less likely to spread in a bar at 10:30 p.m. than 1 a.m.?
People now consider it important to wear a mask around strangers, but rude to wear one when talking to someone they know — even if they have zero idea where their friend has been or who else he’s been talking to. And I’ve even watched some of the biggest mask advocates I know do that exact thing, so it can’t just be all those Trump lovin’ mask hatin’ Right Wingers.
Even the masks themselves are confusing. Originally we were told only the N95s would do much, but now it’s anything goes. The variety of masks varies wildly. I saw a lady the other day with one knitted from yarn.
Last weekend I watched a priest in Mississippi essentially cough up a lung into his mask while consecrating the Eucharist. He followed that by speaking maskless directly into the bowl holding the hosts, and another priest did the same. I figured nobody was going up there for the Body of COVID, but the entire congregation, all of whom were wearing masks, lined right up and took Holy Communion. My son and I were the only non-takers. Totally confusing. (And no smartass Mississippi jokes here. Remember, we’re in Alabama. People in glass houses ….)
Of course, school has been a source of great confusion for many of us. So they must stay home to learn but can go and sweat all over each other at athletic practices and events? OK ….
Will we have college football? Will we have pro? Will we survive without football? I’m really not sure.
Perhaps the most confusing thing of all is that we’re waiting for a vaccine nobody wants to take to save us. I’m not sure how many people of all political stripes I’ve asked if they’ll take the vaccine as soon as it’s ready, but every one of them has said “no.”
So, we’re scared enough of a virus with a 99 percent survival rate to shut down our economies, close our schools, require masks, possibly not have football season and otherwise change just about everything we do, BUT when the vaccine we’re all allegedly waiting for is ready, nobody will want to take it? How long will it take to inoculate 330 million people, especially when a significant portion fear taking a vaccine that was slapped together in a few months?
Will the government have to force us to be vaccinated, and if so, how’s that going to work?
Now, as we’re talking about shutdowns again, people are starving to death across the Third World because they don’t have enough money to buy food — due to COVID restrictions. Right now 10,000 children a month are starving to death, and another half-million a month are “wasting,” a form of severe malnourishment.
But we still think the solution is to wreck our economy, hunker down and wait for a vaccine nobody wants to take.
Clearly there’s no easy answer to any of this. Neither masks, fist bumps or hiding out at home will solve all of our problems. Hopefully, a vaccine can help tremendously, but it seems likely that will come with its own set of issues.
The only thing clear through all of this confusion, is we are fortunate to be where we are in this country arguing over masks, vaccines, football, racism and government overreach, versus watching our children starve to death.
As bad as we may think things are in the United States, it could be much, much worse.
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