The question: “Do you want to end up in the hospital on a ventilator while your lungs are destroyed?” Or, “Would you rather get a shot that will protect you and allow you to finish that Great American Novel, and also allow you to sit around at night eating Ben & Jerry’s?” (Editor’s note: You don’t get B&Js when you’re on a ventilator.)
“Shot, please. Make that two.”
What surprised me was the hesitancy, mistrust, and outright anti-vax sentiments in my own family. “There’s not enough “data” and “It’s all a scheme by Gates” and “You’ll grow boobs” and “Fauci is a terrorist. I’m gonna’ try some Clorox.”
You can quickly discern the true sentiments, politics, and religious beliefs of your loving family by introducing the topics of “vaccination” “science” “masks” and “Colin Kaepernick” at the Thanksgiving Table.
Regardless, I got my shots, everything was fine. One month, two. Then I started to notice some strangeness. Am I losing my hair? Looks like. And what’s this, I’ve gained.., five pounds? And then, for no reason, I watched an episode of Downton Abbey. (Instead of watching the Nuggets get swept by the Suns.)
My wife tried to hide her concern. “Are you okay” she asked, sneaking the remote from me. “You want me to put the game back on?”
“Nah, let’s watch this.., English thing.”
She reached up and felt my forehead.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, nothing, nothing.” She got up and went to the bathroom, came back with a thermometer. “We should just check. Humor me.”
I grunted. “Don’t try and stick it in my butt—”
“It’s not that kind,” she said sliding it under my tongue.
“No fever, but I’m setting up a doctor’s appointment.”
“No, no, I’m fine,” I insisted. An appointment meant scheduling, driving (unless I Zoomed) signing in, sitting in a waiting room—that had removed all of its out-of-date magazines—with other people. And worse, getting weighed.
“I think you have side effects, or maybe that new variant, I’m calling right now—”
“NO” I yelled louder than intended, which froze her. “I smiled,” I’ll take care of it,” I offered in my calmest, preschool teacher voice.
One day passed, two, then on the third day, my wife no longer able to contain herself asked as I was chaotically channel surfing, looking for DA (as we Abbey-ites affectionately call it.)
“What did the doctor say?”
“Hmm? Oh, he.., uh, she said I’m fine. She thinks. Do you remember what channel those English folks were on?”
“She thinks? What did she say about possible side effects?”
“Um? She said something like ‘For every Delta there’s an.., Epsilon.’ Then some other doctor Greek shit.”
“Yeah, it was pretty good because she didn’t weigh me and she didn’t try to stick anything in my butt. Oh, I think this is it. Look, it’s that haughty young woman who’s mucking up all the works.”
“What about side effects?”
“Hmm? Yeah, could be some, she thinks. Like, any physical labor seems to exacerbate things. So, yardwork, taking out the trash. Out. And anything on a ladder, no good. And stress. Yeah, that’s a big one. So, that means none of your relatives this summer. Could spike me. Especially your sister. And that means no church, apparently.”
“What?” She was now standing next to me, palms upturned.
“Yeah. Church, God, the devil, heaven, hell, all that shit is stressful.”
“Which doctor was this?”
I could feel her boring in. “Hey, have you seen this episode?” I offered, pointing with the clicker at the screen. “Everyone’s got secrets, and they’re all trying to be polite because they’re English and—”
“That was quite a list of what you can’t do. What did this.., ‘doctor’ (she made air quotes. Air quotes always come right before CHECKMATE) say you should do.
“Well, she was talking fast, you know, must have been first in her class, and she said all the research isn’t in yet, but apparently,” and I stopped to emphasize this key point. “Apparently, oral sex seems to be a.., whaddya’ call it? Mitigator. Yeah, she used some big word like that.”
She silently walked away from me and I could hear her in the kitchen, on the phone with the doctor’s office.
“Honey, I think this is a good episode. Wanna’ bring some chips and a beer when you come back in? I think the Queen shows up in this one. “