Aisle Of Wit

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May The Fourth May Be With YOU

A year ago today, I was overjoyed when I drove up to the parking lot of the Magic Mountain amusement park, proudly displayed my bare upper arm and looked away while a cooperative medical clerk obliged my request to capture my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine into my left arm.

At long last, I was fully vaccinated.  Like most of my social media contacts, I gleefully posted these pictures, changed my avatar to “fully vaccinated”, prepared myself for a weekend of reactions by scheduling it before last year’s Final Four, a day I was committed to staying home and watching TV anyway, and was relieved when absolutely no symptoms turned up in the arm I received my second dose in (though I did need a hefty dose of lidocaine for the chronic neck and shoulder pain I deal with on my other side).

We had a new president, new hope, promise that it would be OK to hug people safely again (nearly every commercial on the Yankees and Mets games I eagerly listened to promised that) and a summer of love that would open up a new era of unprecedented human interaction.  Well, we all know how that went down

Flash forward to this week, when the CDC announced we were now eligible for a second booster shot for a pandemic that not only has not ended as assured, but it has also lingered and become a political and sociological divisor of epic proportion.  Naturally, President Biden was one of the first to post his needle selfie, and made a plea for funding to accompany the desired rollout of these second boosters. Later in the week, Dr Anthony Fauci took the cable news airwaves to outline his recommendations, as did my Quaran-tine, sweet beautiful Barbara Ferrer, to her Los Angeles County flock yesterday.

Well, this time around the announcement of availability has a lot less fanfare, and the messaging from both the FDA and CDC , as well as Los Angeles County much more selective and, ultimately, inconsistent.  The statements are far more pleading than they are dictatorial.  Here’s how CBS New York reported the national announcements this week on their website, emphasis on certain words intentional:

More than 34 million Americans aged 50 and older are now eligible to receive another booster shot, after the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it had authorized a new round of the Moderna or Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for those who want them. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoed the FDA’s authorization on Tuesday afternoon, signing off on guidance making a second booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine available for eligible people “who wish to increase their individual protection.”

The regulator had decided to expand eligibility beyond Israel’s cutoff down to age 50 to address challenges during previous efforts to “operationalize” federal recommendations. Around a third of people from 50 to 65 years old “have significant medical comorbidities,” Marks said, and other vaccine policies rely on 50 years old to define those at “higher risk.” 

On the heels of this messy messaging, earlier this week my leisurely pre-dawn morning walk was upset by a double-masked, screaming, wild-eyed fellow pedestrian walking across from me on an otherwise empty street.  He stared angrily at my unmasked face, breathing in the cool morning air just to wake up, and at the top of his lungs shrieked “WHERE’S YOUR FUCKING MASK, ASSHOLE??”  Jarred, I calmly began to cross the street and said, very calmly, “The CDC hasn’t mandated the wearing of masks outdoors in low-density areas since last summer, and Los Angeles County has not had any such regulations in place even indoors for nearly a month.   I have documented proof that I am triple vaccinated and have never tested positive, including when my roommate had it and recovered several months ago”.

I couldn’t even finish my sentence.  The dude began shrieking and running from me, saying repeatedly “Where’s your mask?!?!  WHERE’S  YOUR FUCKING MAAAAAAAAASK!!!!!!!???”.

I took another route.

Look, I hear the concerns of those who are indeed dealing with the issues and life stages that Fauci, Ferrer and friends posit.  If you WANT additional protection, you have the right to pursue it.  If you WANT to cover your face in public outdoors, for as sad as I may think you look (and, honestly, these days most people I see wearing larger N-95 type face coverings rarely have joy in their eyes), go right ahead.  Any time I see someone with a young child in tow, they immediately get a pass for obvious reasons.  And if you’d ever allow me to get close enough to you to have an intelligent conversation, you might share with me your own personal journey of long COVID symptoms, said co-morbidities, concern for elderly parents who are indeed susceptible.  And I’d likely respect your decision.

But when messaging implies that it’s incumbent upon ME to address YOUR fears by covering MY face unnecessarily while I work SO HARD to get myself in the best physical shape of MY life–and when you imply I’M selfish by being so petty about this issue (yes, I mean you Mehdi Hasan, you arrogant British snob),  well…let’s just say I’m a lot less enthusiastic about getting my fourth dose as expeditiously as I got my second.

My exceptionally cautious BFF even has become a bit more confident himself, noticeably maskless indoors for the first time in a long time as we shared an exceptionally healthy brunch on my side of town (thanks again, BFF).  He’s in pretty great shape himself now, and while he’s a bit more likely to get his second booster than me at this time he’s not rushing out like Biden and Ferrer are urging.

And, to be sure, I’m far more likely than not to get the damn jab eventually.  More than ever, I’ve got things to live for.  When the booster is readily available at a walk-in without a line, assuming Biden and friends actually get their distribution act together, I’ll probably find a few moments for it.  I did get my first booster last all just before I visited some dear friends in person who have their own ways of dealing with all of this, and I made my choice to invest in my own body accordingly.  At some point I’ll probably be deciding to reinforce myself with similar excitement awaiting.

But I can assure all of you that when I do there won’t be a selfie, and there won’t be a public declaration. Many of these experts envision a world where boosters will be like flu shots.  Typically, after a flu shot the most flamboyant display of self-congratulations is a lollipop from your nurse practitioner.   I’ll be happy to take that, but I’d rather do any sucking I choose on my own timetable and with a lot less public declaration going forward.

And hopefully, masked screamer, you will do the same.  Or just simply stay out of my way.

Until next time…