Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Like illness, Mr. COVID Answer Man lingers

 


     It might be hard to imagine, but I try to premeditate my columns, to consider possible ramifications before clicking on the “Submit for Approval” button. Is everything spelled right? Are my facts all in a row, quacking happily? Will I be frog-walked sobbing away from my career and into early retirement? But when I rolled out “Mr. Covid Answer Man” early this month, there was one response I never imagined: that readers actually would, as requested, send in questions. Sincere questions, some of them. So even though I like to flit nimbly from one topic to another, with this crisis reaching whatever nightmare crescendo we’re heading toward, I feel duty bound to address a few.

     Dear Mr. COVID Answer Man: What is the polite way to say to your brother who you are very close to that his girlfriend is acting recklessly in regards to the virus and is putting his and anyone he sees lives at risk?
     A destination wedding in South Carolina should not have been gone to, nor a trip to Colorado to support her friends’ MFA project.
     What the best way to say, “I don’t know if I can see you while your girlfriend acts like a member of the Trump administration?” — Not My Brother’s Girlfriend’s Keeper
     Dear NMBGK: The best way is the simplest. Try, “See you in two weeks.” Americans today are terrible when it comes to self-denial — that’s why we’re all so fat — and just because the journey might kill you is no reason to miss your Tri-Delt sister exchanging vows at Hilton Head. In her defense, we’ve been locked down for over six months and certain slippage is expected. Just don’t use it to justify further lapses. If you take a revolver, put a bullet in one chamber, spin it, then put the barrel to your head, pull the trigger and come off unscathed, that means you were lucky. Not that you should go, “All right!” and give it another go. Encourage him to encourage her to quit while she’s ahead and stay home scrapbooking her adventures.
     Dear Mr. COVID Answer Man: I cannot suppress my glee at the news that Pres. Trump has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Mr. Answer Man, how can I rid myself of these wicked thoughts? I am sure NOBODY shares them with me. — Not Quite Contrite

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9 comments:

  1. Thank you Mr. Coevid answer man.
    I've begun to hear the term "virus fatigue". Does this refer to the feeling you have after or before you contract it?

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    1. Though it seems counter-intuitive, one should always switch. That was a fun MVS analysis.

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  3. 2 observations and a question.

    Too late for the print edition, but your anwer to Not Quite Contrite today is a little off at the end: "no how monstrous and callous a traitor."

    I see that you part company with your esteemed professorial buddy, Bill Savage, in going with the "official" designation for Chicago's mostly-elevated railway, 'L'. Personally, though I know it's wrong, I admire his bull-headed insistence on using El, which seems more quaint to me.

    Dear Mr. COVID Answer Man: Was that gorgeous tree atop the blog today found on a random street in the leafy, suburban paradise? I seldom encounter such choice autumn exemplars in the city. (Hopeful that MCAM can branch out from his specific area of expertise to address this query.)

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    1. NYC's subway uses 'El", because they have a subway line called "L".
      We just use "L".

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    2. I'm pretty sure that long ago, whenever I might have had occasion to mention the elevated railway system, I would refer to it as the "el," without the capital E.

      john

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    3. New York's "L" train wasn't designated that until 1985, over a hundred years since they'd been using the term El.

      The strongest argument for 'L' in Chicago is that it's *always* been officially named that. Years ago, I had assumed it was some kind of '60s space-age terminology tweak.

      The strongest argument for El that it makes more sense, being the actual way you begin to spell Elevated. Another point in its favor is that it requires one less keystroke to type, if you're using the official single-quotation marks for 'L'. Most important, however, is the fact that I like it. ; )

      Mr. Savage contends that El is the choice of some of Chicago's most celebrated authors and poets, so that's good enough for him.

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  4. Dear Mr. Covid Answer Man: How do you explain to the ordinary American Joe/Josephine how my wearing a mask, even though it doesn't directly prevent particles of virus that others might be emitting from infecting me actually (through the magic of probability) does in fact make me safer? By the way, one of my literary heroes, H.L. Mencken put probability theory in the same category with astrology and tea reading; and he didn't even have to grapple with Marilyn Vos Savant's tricky question of whether changing one's choice of curtain in a game show did or did not enhance one's chances of winning a special prize rather than a joke gift.

    john

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  5. Regarding mask-wearing, I saw a segment on CNN that was sadly hilarious. Folks who claim masks CAUSE more cases of COVID. These pitiable individuals were interviewed, and the answers ranged from "....because the masks force too much carbon dioxide back into your lungs" to "well, the COVID in the atmosphere actually gets trapped back into the mask and infects you". When asked how one of these looney conclusion was arrived at, one person answered, in all sincerity, "Logic".

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