I’ve taken to wearing a mask again whenever I’m inside, despite the fact that I’ve been fully vaccinated since the first day of June. I haven’t been totally diligent about it: I meet a bunch of friends for brunch most Saturdays; I play hockey twice a week; I went to a friend’s birthday party yesterday—and at none of those events do/did I wear a mask.
Sidebar: Playing hockey while wearing a mask was BRUTAL. I’m SO glad that’s over. It may not be wise to breathe heavily in a cold atmosphere with fifteen other guys but, man oh man, I’m slow enough as it is. I don’t need the added stress of not being able to gulp lungfuls of air as I chase a bunch of 20somethings around the ice.
But when I head into the supermarket or a marine-supply store, yup, I cover up my mouth and nose with a mask. Doing so seems a small price to pay (as it did for much of the past year-plus) to help stop the spread of the Covid virus.
Am I overreacting? And is that an example of a hypochondria on my part?
I ask because someone at yesterday’s birthday party cried out an exasperated retort of “Covid’s over!” during a discussion of concert-going in the current environment and I was horrified. This same friend a couple of months ago derided my then pre-vaccination decision not to attend an indoor party saying, “Oh, that’s right. You’re worried about Covid.”
Damn right, I was worried about Covid. I’m still worried about it; not so much personally as I am worried about what the impact on the economy and on society as a whole will be as great swaths of moronic (yes, moronic) Americans refuse to get vaccinated. The same people who love the science that gives them mobile phones and the ability to fly across the country refute the science that eradicated deadly afflictions like measles and polio. Sorry, no picking and choosing, folks. And don’t get me started on assholes like Bobby Kennedy, Jr. People like him…argh! Drives. Me. Fucking. Nuts.
But… And you knew there was going to be a “but”…
On yet another scorching weekend recently, I watched as scores of people frolicked in Chesapeake Bay. Paddling SUPs, waterskiing, swimming—folks were finding any way to escape the heat and humidity that have plagued the region this summer. And while I have SUPped on the bay (and even in the gnarly water of Back Creek in Annapolis) and I snorkeled in the bay to free a line wrapped around my boat’s propellor a few years ago, I do all I can to stay OUT of the water. I’ve heard countless stories about Chesapeake watermen—people who are on the water day in and day out, and whose very lives depend on the bay—who carry a bottle of bleach with them so that if they get a cut while working their crab pots they can immediately (and undoubtedly painfully) douse the wound to prevent the nasty waterborne illnesses possible around here. Hell, a good friend’s first remark upon hearing that I’d gone into the water to free the line from my prop was, “When was your last tetanus shot?”
The inability—or rather, my personal refusal—to be able to sail to a secluded cove, drop anchor and jump overboard for water fun is what I dislike most about Chesapeake Bay. That is why I will likely relocate when the opportunity arises, along with the fact that I just plain miss the ocean.
But clearly some folks spend entire lives in the bay and are none the worse for wear. And some intelligent friends think Covid is all a scam. So again I’m forced to ask myself: am I overreacting? I’ve never been a hypochondriac and I’ve played through some pretty painful injuries over the years. But am I wimping out as I age?
I don’t believe I am but what do I know? Should I just throw caution to the wind and be like those hordes of people cramming into bars in the Ozarks as if everything’s normal? That seems a tad selfish to my mind, but not worrying about the small-percentage possibility I might contract a virus I’m vaccinated against also seems to fit into my desire to live a fun-filled, adventurous life. Can the concepts of self-preservation and societal responsibility fit in with my hedonistic tendencies? I truly wonder every day as I see maskless folks gathered together or when I see parents letting their kids swim up in some murky creek off the Chesapeake. Am I missing something?