I Don’t Remember How To Smile In Public

Tomorrow I will receive my first Covid-19 vaccine shot. One of two that will finally give me a little peace of mind that I’ve been lacking for over a year now. Oh, don’t worry. I know that it won’t prevent me from getting sick. And that it’s actually just the government installing tracking chips into my body so they can follow my every move. And that if I eat fruits and vegetables and smoke weed and dig conspiracy theories I won’t get sick. Well, because Covid isn’t real, of course.

The stupid runs high around here. We seem to have quite a few doses in our area, mainly because there’s so many that believe all those things I stated. I work with a lot of those people. Grown adults with good jobs making great wages with decent health insurance that think they’re going to somehow get poisoned if they take the vaccine. These are also the same people smoking two cigarettes on their 10-minute break, concerned about their health.

While I’m thrilled at the idea of people getting vaccinated and possibly the walls of the pandemic finally coming down, I’m worried that I’ve forgotten what it is to be social. I mean, I wasn’t social before all of this. But with walls coming down soon, and maybe even facing no longer donning masks, all will be revealed once again. No longer can I be at the store and not smile at a bratty kid in a grocery cart without their parents thinking I’m some asshole. The painted friendly gesture that I typically wore like a badge will once again be out in the open for all to see in the canned good aisle. There will no longer be a state mandate saying I can’t attend this or that. Pressure will be on to attend family functions I never wanted to attend pre-isolation.

These aren’t terrible problems. In fact, they’re not really problems. I made it thru the last year reasonably unscathed. Sure, the whole family(sans our oldest) got Covid back in November. It wasn’t fun, but we didn’t end up in a hospital with a tube down our throats. My parents never got it and they both now are fully vaccinated. My wife got her first shot today, and me tomorrow. So by the time for summer barbecues and graduation we’ll be doing good.

So what’s the problem?

I don’t know. I guess I’ve gotten comfortable living in a bubble. I’ve found a groove in small company. I quite like hiding behind a surgical mask as I’m buying supplies for the week. I like anonymity. I like the mystery of a grimace hidden behind surgical blue while paying for gasoline, or unloading a truck at work. Nobody can judge my Tom Selleck mustache as I search for records at Karma Records. There’s not assumption of a random conversation about politics, religion, and other hot button topics I’m usually odd man out in around my neck of the woods.

Don’t take my skepticism for the re-opening of the world as some kind of morbid adulation for the sickness. I’m happy things are starting to turn, finally. I really do want to be at a live show again. And I terribly miss sitting in a dark movie theater with a crowd and sharing the experience of cinema with my son and strangers. And I really do want to sit amongst fellow adults and watch my soon-to-be 18-year old walk across a stage and get handed her diploma. And yes, I’d even go to a family function with relatives and eat hot dogs cooked over an open fire if it meant I could see smiling faces once again.

I just need to figure out how to smile again.

It shouldn’t be hard, right? I could pull it off before, so I should be able to do it again. I suppose it’s not healthy hiding your disdain for society on a daily basis. Fake it till you make it, right? If you pretend long enough eventually that smile on your face might actually become genuine. Right? Right? It’s hard, though. Being surrounded by the stupidest of the stupid. Hearing these oddball theories about what the government is doing with these vaccines. Then when you ask these idiots if they’ve ever contracted Polio or German Measles or Small Pox and they say no, and you say why do you think that is, and you get a blank look…well, it’s hard to have faith in the future of humanity.

It’d just be easier with a mask over my face.

I’ll do my best to fake it till I make it. I’m genuinely happy people will no longer be dying in droves because of Covid-19. And I’ll be happy to watch rock and roll on a stage once again. And happy to watch a Marvel movie on the big screen once again. And if I see you I’ll be happy. I’ll even smile. And I swear it will be genuine.


9 thoughts on “I Don’t Remember How To Smile In Public

  1. No vaccine for me until… summer? Fall? 2022? Canada has fallen horribly behind.

    Glad you are getting yours. As for smiling, I still awkwardly smile at everyone from behind my mask. I hope it makes me look like I have crazy eyes.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I feel all of this, man… if all goes according to plan here I should be getting my first jab by the end of April (though there’s chat of shortages and delays ahead). We got the road-map out of lockdown a few days ago and while I’m looking forward to restrictions being lifted, I can’t say that I’ll ever feel comfortable in certain situations again. The anxiety and impact on my OCD has been considerable… loads of work undone and coping mechanisms rendered useless. Though I guess I’ll feel less awkward about being reluctant to shake hands with folks and suchlike given most people will likely be feeling the same!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The mental toll has been real, man. Not sure we’ll ever be the same. Both in terms of public gatherings and in people agreeing on anything g anymore. The stupid has been emboldened and I don’t see that ever leaving, let alone getting better.

      Hang in there, J.


  3. Man, I just posted something about this stuff on Saturday. I’ll probably still be wearing a mask afterwards, because of all the asshats who refuse to get the vaccine. You can’t fix stupid, so I’m glad you’ll smile in spite of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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