Novelist | Singer
The new news is that now we are encouraged to wear masks. Even though Mr. Big in the White House claims he will not. I think Darwin himself would not argue with that decision.
Our normally free existence has become a sci-fi movie. I remember just recently (pre-COVID) walking down the street and trying to imagine what it would be like if this was a street somewhere in Aleppo. What must that feel like? I remember telling myself how lucky I was every day even though I do have my complaints about this and that inconsequential thing. That was before COVID.
I’m feeling trapped like everyone else. But what about those people in Aleppo who now have yet another potentially life-threatening issue to deal with? Do they even know about COVID? They have dropped off of our TV screens as if their story were over and done with. What does it feel like to be them?
Imagine. We can’t—well, most of us. There are those among us in this country who can personally recall a similar tenuous life and death situation. I’ve seen the recent push to interview all the Holocaust survivors. We need people to tell us these stories so that we don’t forget, because there’s one thing for sure: Human beings have amnesia when it comes to awful things we really should remember.
Though it’s a lame example in comparison, it’s one that’s meaningful to me–the 70s energy crisis. The 70s was not all that long ago. It might well be ancient history to those born in the 80s, but really, it was just yesterday. I remember the lines at the gas stations, and the sudden appearance of the Ford Pinto and the Chevy Vega. I had a Vega, and though it eventually gained a terrible reputation, it was a snappy little car and got, yes, great gas mileage. Since that time, I have been driving as energy-efficient a vehicle as I can afford. It just seemed to me the thing to do and continue with. But then, I am an environmentalist, and I love our Earth. Plus the fact that there is no reason for me to own a big vehicle. And finally, small cars are so much easier to park and actually hold a lot more stuff than most people realize.
As the years went by, I began to see less and less through my low, narrow windshield. The cars (and trucks) just keep getting bigger and bigger and higher and higher. Even the 60s’ and early 70s’ gigantic cars were not that big. Trucks were just trucks, and only those people who really needed a ¾ ton would buy one. If you didn’t need the weight or sheer size of the ¾ ton, you drove a ½ ton. Trucks were very utilitarian. Why all the trucks these days? I have found that I truly don’t want to know. Not really. The energy crisis ended, and then the vehicles got big again. There were no real lessons learned and applied.
We can’t remember about these things because we can afford not to. And now gas is really cheap, so big vehicles are even more fun to own. We can put our fingers in our ears and go “LaLaLaLaLa!”
And if you just don’t want to think about all of this, it is your privilege. Because you are privileged. I am privileged—to live in a place that asks me to stay home, but won’t shoot me if I do go out. Won’t even ticket me—yet. Masks are suggested, but not required. Not for us. We do whatever the hell we want.
And that is a shame. No, it is disgraceful that we can’t just follow the rules. Brains like Anthony Fauci have the experience, the data and the analytical power to help determine that it really is in all of our best interests to simply stay home and away from other people. To tell the truth, I think most people are adhering to the rules. People in Gloucester have been great about physical distancing. I figure we are all quite blessed out here on our island, and my evil twin wishes that they would put up the cut bridge and station a Gloucester and a Rockport cop together at the Rust Island exit and send people away unless they can produce proof of residence. Honestly, why should we be subjected to an influx of this threat from people who don’t live here, but want to run away from the situation in which they have chosen to live? I do understand why they want to come here, but couldn’t they go somewhere else? It is the reality that we live with today.
Everyone has options. We can choose to flaunt the rules because we can, and because it doesn’t affect us directly. Life doesn’t feel a lot different than it did a month ago, except for the fact that we’re just here in the house. But it’s not about me and it’s not about you. It’s about us.