The new catch-phrase in the news is vaccine hesitancy, as I told Swamp Rabbit before I jumped on my bike and headed uptown for a shot in the arm. “It’s a medical condition common in places where people are too stupid or paranoid to separate facts from propaganda.”
“I don’t know,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Remember this time last year? There was a hog monster in the White House tellin’ everybody the virus was no big deal, he had it under control. And all them news networks just let him keep tellin’ lies. So you can’t blame the peeps who don’t believe anybody now.”
I told him that I did remember this time last year. The death count was still low, but the virus was already ubiquitous. It pushed aside all other news stories, chased office workers out of skyscrapers, shuttered restaurants and theaters, broke the gridlock and the public transit system. It padlocked arenas and imposed eerie silences on empty streetscapes that looked like settings for an end-of-the-world movie. It slammed the brakes on ambition and prompted potential victims to burrow deep into the Internet, or to re-examine their real-life routines and general purposes. Who is this person who shares my bed every night? What was I thinking?
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Ain’t no woman wants to share a bed with an old, broke-ass dude like you.”
“The point is that almost everybody knew the Covid-19 was deadly and would remain so until the scientists came up with a vaccine,” I replied. “The people who didn’t know didn’t want to know. They believe in conspiracy theories, or in the Republican Party. Same thing, almost. Please don’t tell me you’re vaccine-hesitant.”
“Let’s just say I’m skeptical,” he said, stroking his pathetic chin whiskers. “I’ll let you go first. If you don’t drop dead, maybe I’ll get a shot.”
It was a five-mile ride from the swamp to the Pennsylvania Convention Center against heavy traffic, but I made it on time for my appointment, locked up my bike and got into a series of fast-moving lines supervised by polite people from FEMA and the U.S. Army. This was the two-shot Pfizer vaccine. I got the first shot and made an appointment for the second and was out of there in 45 minutes.
Swamp Rabbit sized me up when I got back to the swamp. “You look okay, but how you feel? I still think its dangerous to get injected with all them little beasties.”
“I’ll tell you what’s dangerous,” I said. “Riding a bicycle in Center City. But that’s another story.”