But for the sheer weight of that piano

While President Trump has sounded more like a ten year-old child sheepishly shrugging his shoulders and emphatically insisting “wasn’t me” as his mother stared at the shattered priceless crystal vase on the floor — and let’s face it, every one of the COVID-19 deaths in the US is someone’s shattered priceless crystal vase — the doctors and scientists on the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force have had two jobs:  run behind him with a dustpan and broom to clean up his messes while running in front of him to keep him from knocking down more vases.

A volatile cocktail of your national origin or ethnicity, your religion, your affluence, your sexuality and gender identity/expression, your age, your health, your politics, and where you get your news will determine how you feel about that last paragraph.  It shouldn’t, but it does.  I could allow myself to prattle on about the need for solidarity, about how we really all “are the world,” about how a virus too small to see with the naked eye has brought us to heel in a way nuclear weapons and melting polar ice caps and cholesterol can only dream of, but there are people out there convinced that common sense and communal responsibility are plots by agents of Satan designed to rob you of your right to be an idiot wherever, however, and whenever you want.

At the height of the AIDS crisis in the 90’s, and particularly in its early days in the 80’s, doctors and experts in public health tried to stem its tide by curtailing certain activities — like closing bathhouses, establishments where gay men went to have anonymous sex and lots of it — and insisting on precautionary lifestyle changes — like condom usage.  These common sense responses to a burgeoning health crisis were seen by many through a political lens:  the gay bathhouse and gay sex on demand had become leading symbols of gay “liberation," and no number of smarties with MD’s and PhD’s after their name and no number of government bureaucrats were going to rain on the rainbow parade and shove gay men back in the closet.  Damnit!  And of course industry saw human tragedy in terms of dollars and cents.  This drama (more like tragedy) played out, thoughtful reader, in Randy Shilts’ book And The Band Played On.

Then, as now with COVID-19, everything hinged on testing.  Knowing who is infected and whom they have been in contact with is essential.  Not essential, it’s a matter of life and death.  Then, as now, taking precautions to protect the people around you is essential.  Not essential, it’s a matter of life and death.

Don’t put yourself and your loved ones in danger because you’re being asked to change the way you live your life.  Better to have a life than lose it.  Like most privileges, good health is something most people take for granted until it is too late.  If someone told you you’d be fine but for the sheer weight of that piano falling on your head, I imagine you’d avoid walking under pianos until someone invented a hat that breaks their fall.

There’s no hat, yet, so…


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