The little girl stands shyly in front of her beaming parents. She is holding a sign that reads, "Take Off Your Mask Because God's Got You Covered!" The picture was all over social media last weekend, as were videos of protesters hanging the governor of Kentucky in effigy, a television reporter getting hassled and manhandled in Minnesota as he covered a protest by those wanting a local bar to be opened, and a massive, bumping pool party at the Lake of the Ozarks, apparently featuring a guest appearance by hip-hop artists Sodom and Gomorrah.
It was all just more media fodder, more bullets being fired in the viral culture war over COVID-19 between the two major American tribes: the Whoa-Nows and the Phugits.
The Whoa-Nows, as we know, are a cautious people. They favor the wearing of masks and social distancing. They generally avoid large gatherings and believe in taking a slow, measured approach to reopening the American economy, based on medical data, scientific research, and the experiences of other countries around the globe. Do not attempt to get closer than six feet to a Whoa-Now.
Their ancestral rivals, the Phugits, say the crisis is overblown, the death rate is miniscule and only affects the weak, and it's time to stop living in fear. The Phugits are over it. They believe the COVID scare is a hoax designed to destroy America and that masks are for wussies (read, Whoa-Nows). They say open the bars, open the malls. Time to party! God's got us covered, y'all!
Last weekend, as the Whoa-Nows mostly hunkered in their home encampments, venturing out in masks only to buy food (and maybe booze), members of the Phugit tribe took the occasion of Memorial Day to celebrate the country's glorious victory over COVID, gathering in massive tribal groups at lakes, beaches, bars, and clubs. There was drinking and dancing — and hooting and hugging and humping. Victory was sweet!
The nominal leader of the Phugits, Chief Tweetzalot, took the occasion to play golf, accuse TV host Joe Scarborough of murder, make fun of Joe Biden for wearing a mask, and bully the governor of North Carolina. And it was good. Huzzah!
Considering the 14-day incubation period for COVID-19, we should have a pretty definitive idea of which tribe's version of reality is closer to the truth in a couple of weeks. Will it just go away, as the Phugits are saying? Are we really out of the woods? Or are we going to have to shut things down again and start all over because of a new surge of infections? We'll see. Until then, I'm avoiding members of the Phugit tribe like, well, the plague.
Which means, like most of my Whoa-Now brothers and sisters, I've been spending a lot of quiet time doing quiet things. For starters, our garden is weedless. Really weedless. And I've got guitar calluses on my fingertips again for the first time in years. The old Gibson even got new strings last week. My finger-picking has picked up nicely. In other art news, I'm creating a lovely collection of red wax sculptures from Babybel cheese packaging.
All my clothes are really clean. And quite dry. And folded. My yard is mowed — and edged. I've never edged my yard before. Very satisfying. Last weekend, we power-washed the driveway. Also very satisfying. Looking forward to taking on the front walk soon. It's good to have dreams.
In the evenings, my wife and I are exploring the deep end of the streaming pool, including watching six 10-episode seasons of Bosch in about two weeks. And The Great is really great. Huzzah! Also, we're discovering, lots of programs are not great. At all. Sometimes we watch them all the way through, just to make sure.
I've also been spending way too much time coming up with answers to this game: Ruin a Band's Name by Changing One Letter. My best ones so far include Alice in Chairs, The Belch Boys, Guns R' Roses, Prance, Stye, Iggy Poo, and Green Dad. Your mileage may vary.
And I keep returning to that photo of the little girl whose parents have convinced her that God will protect her no matter what, even if she ignores medical advice. Do they let her wear a seatbelt? And why does her mother wear glasses, since it was God who apparently gave her crappy eyesight? So many questions. So much chaos. So much anger and confusion in this country. When will it end? Is there an end?
It's enough to make you want to join the Phugits and hit the Lake of the Ozarks.