Now Is the Winter of My Discontent
Now Is the Winter of My Discontent
The temperature has dropped. I pulled my winter coat out of the closet. Our third pandemic winter has begun. Last year, I sat writing under the heat lamps outside at the Toast and Roast, grateful not to have to be at my kitchen table to write but dreaming of the day we’d get the vaccine and I could safely sit inside a café again. And here I am. Back outside at the Toast and Roast (the only coffee place with heat lamps in my neighborhood) despite the fact that I have been vaccinated and have been so since I last sat here in the spring.
Could I go inside somewhere? Sure. Despite the fact that sitting indoors to eat or drink is one of the riskiest things we can do, I’m sure I will at some point. But despite the fact that proof of vaccination is required to sit inside cafes here in NYC, very few places here have been diligent about asking, which does not give me great confidence about the vaccination status of those indoors. Especially given the signs on some windows proclaiming they “don’t discriminate” against unvaccinated people. I mean, at least those signs make it clear where I definitely will not be going.
The me who sat at this Toast and Roast table a year ago would be shocked to learn that so many people have been resistant to getting the vaccine. Didn’t we all go through this nightmare together? Did they not hear the ambulances screaming through the night? Did they not walk past the morgue trucks? Did they not sit, feeling trapped, inside their apartments, afraid of any passing contact that could be dangerous with a loved one or stranger?
When I last sat here at Toast and Roast, under the heat lamp, I would have chewed off my own arm to get a vaccine. But the thing of it is, it doesn’t matter all that much that I, as an individual, have the vaccine, if the community around me is not fully vaccinated. Like, sure, when a mass shooter decides to start spraying bullets, it’s good to have a bullet proof vest on but it won’t save your neighbors and you could still catch a bullet. Better to not have a shooter, number one, but barring that — it’s better if shields can be up for the whole community. (And yes, this is a very American analogy, isn’t it? Ay.)
I cannot understand why someone who can get the vaccine, would not. I start to wonder if maybe the pandemic just hasn’t been so bad for some folks — like maybe they just love Zoom and they want to stay on it forever? Not only would I have chewed off my own arm to get a vaccine, I’d have welcomed almost any side effect. Like, oh, we’re going to get you vaccinated but….you’re going to grow a tentacle. Fine. I’d like to introduce you to my new tentacle. It’s very useful in slippery situations. And if we all grew tentacles when we were vaccinated? Great. At least I’d be able to tell who the hell was vaccinated so I ‘d know If I could sit inside with them or not. I’d hang out indoors at the tentacle café without a care in the world. I’d never have to go to Toast and Roast again. (Sorry, Toast and Roast guys, I love you but your bagel shop café has now become a symbol of my winter sadness so it’s hard for me to keep going.)
At this point, I would welcome a tentacle if it meant I could safely sit in a café or a theatre or concert hall and know, for sure, that everyone is vaccinated and that break out infections would be rare. It would make buying clothes really tricky but you know, I can sew and I’ve learned a few new tricks while sitting in my apartment for nearly two years, so….Give me a tentacle! As this third pandemic winter bears down upon me, I’m not sure I can take winter’s punishments (but I could handle a tentacle).
All around me, things are returning to “normal.” People are pretending everything’s okay when over a thousand people ( on average) are still dying every day in this country. And even the normal is not normal. I saw a video of a final dress rehearsal of a college production and all the actors were in masks. But not cool theatrical masks. They’re doing a naturalistic contemporary play in the masks we wear to the grocery store. Is this production going to be safer than most because of those masks? Sure. But it is hella not normal. It is apocalyptic.
The answer is not to adapt to putting shows on in masks, it’s to not need the masks anymore.
Or to put on a show where everyone has tentacles! I mean — what would you rather watch? Also — side note for any vaccine literalists who happen to be reading — this tentacle business is entirely a flight of my own fancy. You will not grow a tentacle if you get the vaccine. You might get a sore arm and feel kind of tired for a day or two. (I lost my appetite for a little while. People pay money for that kind of side effect.) But I’ll crochet you a tentacle if it’ll convince you to get the vaccine. It might help keep you warm in this wretched winter of discontent while we wait for everyone to get it together.
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Originally published at http://artiststruggle.wordpress.com on November 24, 2021.