Leaving COVID Wonderland

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by William Sullivan, American Thinker:

On the Saturday before Labor Day weekend, my son’s football team played its first game in almost two years.  An omnipresent feeling of gratitude could be felt in the air of my little adopted Northern California burg.  The sun was shining, Old Glory was flying, fans were laughing and cheering, and our boys were playing football.  Save the occasional mask, you wouldn’t know there was anything different about this year than any other.

Then, at the end of the game, something silly happened that dragged us all back into COVID Wonderland.  Rather than having the boys line up and shake hands at the end of the game, as usual, both teams lined up on their respective hash marks facing the other and waved from a distance.

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I couldn’t believe it, and as I gathered from the loud chuckles among spectators, neither could they.  I looked at a fellow coach, whom I suspect is far to my left politically, and whispered, “Can you believe this?”  He just smiled, shook his head, and said, “Nope.”

After all, we had met all the other team’s coaches earlier.  No masks, but there were plenty of handshakes and conversation without adhering to the entirely made-up standard for social distancing that everyone came to know in 2020.  No one in the crowd was distancing from one another, either, and the boys had just been all over each other without anyone having the slightest concern.  But somehow, the players and coaches shaking hands at the end of the game was just too dangerous?

That stupid visual of us waving at the other team was, like so many other things we’ve become accustomed to, just theater to keep us immersed in the fantasy that COVID lurks everywhere, and will mercilessly strike if you live a normal life.

In reality, if you are at any significant risk of COVID, there are plenty of vaccines available.  And if the vaccines work, those people should feel comfortable enjoying their lives while appreciating a reduced risk of harm from the virus.  For me and my kids, and for most of us at that game, COVID is a nonfactor in our day-to-day lives, despite these constant and often silly reminders that we are supposed to be fearful.

On Labor Day weekend, however, I left my California enclave for the free state of Florida, which included an afternoon of boating at Destin’s Crab Island that could have been mistaken for a Trump rally (and I later found that we were there just a day before an actual Trump rally).  But the highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly our visit to Tallahassee where we watched the Florida State Seminoles as they hosted the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

It was a great game that will likely be remembered as one of the best of the season, but to be honest, what was most gratifying was the normalcy of everything.  We tailgated, we watched the fans chant the traditional “chop,” there was abundant reverence for our military servicemen and our Flag, an awesome tribute to the late and legendary Bobby Bowden, and, of course, 70,000-plus Americans in a bowl enjoying the game and each other without any concern that the person sitting next to them was a vector for a deadly disease.

Even there, a few masks could be seen, which occasionally lulled me back toward COVID Wonderland — but only briefly.  The fantasy that COVID lurked around every corner and in the very air we breathed, and the thought that innumerable gaggles of my countrymen are living in irrational fear of it, couldn’t last in this place, because a moment later the crowd would react to a big play, jarring my senses and reminding me that I was firmly planted in the real world where we can freely live our lives without calculating such incomprehensibly small levels of risks.

Then came time to go to the airport, and descend once more into COVID Wonderland, which, when so closely juxtaposed with the place I was leaving, proved to be even more maddening and sillier than it once was.

Perhaps you’ve also been there, where we don our loosely fitting paper masks that haven’t been worn in days (despite our having interacted personally with hundreds of strangers without it) because, suddenly, COVID lingers on every droplet of moisture in the air and is deadlier than ever.

The intercom blares a stern warning to “socially distance” to keep one another safe, but then the airline employees and TSA prod us into tight-fitting corrals to check our bags and be inspected by government overseers.

The masks disappear completely at the eateries and drinkeries in the airport, but once on the plane, we’re reminded that we have to replace the masks in between sips and bites.  Somehow, COVID becomes more prevalent and dangerous in the routinely disinfected airplane (with air filtration systems that reportedly remove 99-percent of viruses and pathogens from the air) than it was in the disgusting airport we had just left.

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