Let’s call ‘em 5-F. That’s one more than 4-F, and we all know what that used to mean: you weren’t going to ‘Nam, but there was something wrong with the designee that rendered him pinch a’ shit unfit for military service, a low bar in those days given the war’s need for cannon fodder. But these types are everywhere. I guess if St. Anthony really had a 72% approval rating at the time of the election, such would stand to reason. Not that reason permeates the behavior of these folks. The fury of their fire is best exemplified by their magic talisman, the face mask. Just begrudgingly donning one upon entering a store as required by law is hardly enough. You can spot one when they trudge from store to car, mask still on, usually to keep the thing on as they drive away in their hermetically sealed vehicle. That’d be one mean virus that could penetrate such a thing. Mr. Corona ain’t one of ‘em. Yet you see them driving along everywhere, especially in Priuses laden with bumper stickers. Then there are those out for a stroll in the cold, breezy open air. Or running! Or on bicycles! That’d be a trick worthy of a Navy pilot snagging a trap to nail a carrier landing were Mr. Corona to latch on to a moving object in the open air. And how about when one of ’em wears a mask into a bar or restaurant, leaves it on even after food and drink arrive then takes it partway off just briefly for each sip or bite, replacing it quickly after? 5-Fs impose this insanity on any they can reach, even their masked up little children, who would turn coronaviruses into mild colds at worst. But that’s the other way to tell a 5-F. They’re never shy in pointing out your shortcomings as a human being should they perceive your action, or lack of same, as somehow perpetuating the pandemic. It could be as subtle as a little finger tap to the side of a masked face, pointing out you should be wearing yours. It can get physical, with the not always friendly shove to make you get back when you’ve ventured closer than 6 feet. This can come from complete strangers but even from a person you thought was a best friend. But nowhere is the 5-F’s fury more evident than when they’re yelling. I got into an altercation with one today. I was walking a trail in the woods by the river, coming home from walking Kathy in. Some chubby middle aged balding dude probably out bird watching (binocs and expensive camera around his neck) coming toward me, stopped, fumbled to put his mask on and held out his hand asking me to stop while he got masked. Not wanting any part of that nonsense, I just kept walking while telling him I’d not be spewing anything his way so not to worry. I got way closer than six feet as I walked past. Boy, did that trigger him! He pulled out the most powerful weapon on his person – his camera – and clicked away while shouting out things like “don’t ever come back here!” and “you’re not too bright are you?”. I told him I was a retired professor of medicine. Then he took out on a run to get ahead of me. I hollered “yeah. run! I think I’m gonna sneeze!” But he wasn’t running to get away, but to get position for a face on shot of me! I smiled and waved. I wonder where those are going to end up? I think I’m safe as I was wearing my sunglasses. Ann Arbor, yeah, but I fear such idiocy isn’t confined to tree town. While I chuckled at the encounter, the dark side in which such types believe so strongly in the righteousness of their views and actions, they long for the power to impose them on you, and some achieve it. I’m sure my frightened bird-watcher thinks pictures of me can somehow bring me to justice as what he sees as a Covidiot. I think it goes the other way. 5-Fs are generally miserable people, depressed by the fate that St. Anthony says COVID has befallen them. I guess we should be pleased that their constant mask wearing means we only have to look at half their faces, their looks mostly improved in the process. As they’re not given to spontaneously smiling, we’re not deprived from sharing that human pleasure.
But COVID numbers are plummeting all over, certainly in the states I follow like sports scores on the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus site: Michigan, Illinois (scoping that Chicago visit), New Mexico (brother-in-law Bob), Colorado (Sam’s widow June), and California (so many). Whether the drops are a consequence of more stringent PCR testing, use of less sensitive detection methods (like saliva tests), effects of vaccination, redefinition of what constitutes a COVID death, or real declines in infection, they’re drops nonetheless, and what our betters are basing decisions about reopening our economies. It’s beginning to happen here in my state, and leftist leaders in places like Chicago and New York are also pushing for a return to normalcy. Should this trend continue, and normal life as we once knew it re-emerges, I worry what will happen to the 5Fs. So much of their energy and reason for existence is bound up in dealing with the pandemic, what happens next? I hope they won’t be like the WW II GIs who never could reintegrate into a civilian existence. Well, the committees on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will need enforcers. Whatever happens, I have one request to the 5-Fers, delivered by my friend the late John Prine, tragically taken from us by coronavirus last March. I don’t think a mask would have saved him https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy1UOeAMhEs