Prodigal Partisans and the Pandemic

The beepers are beeping and the nudgers are nudging. You can hear them at the intersection. You can feel them in the checkout line. No more masks. No more standing back. No more waiting. No. More.

You can feel restive, post-coronavirus America squirming like a bag full of snakes. This great nervous energy seems ready to burst out on the nation. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, spring fever always lays heavy around this part of May. But we’ve had an especially long, lovely, cool spring. Even without the end of the coronavirus shutdowns, this summer would have been ready to pop. Add the two together, and you had better stock up on grain alcohol, fireworks, red popsicles, and bandages. 

But over on the other side of the street, there’s no beeping or nudging. There are whisperers and mumblers; shooters of sidelong glances and stagy mask adjusters; and crisp clickers of hand-sanitizer caps.

Many are efficient masters of the pandemic world, striding with confidence through the no-man’s land they learned to navigate so successfully in these 61 weeks. They learned to defeat the chaos and panic of last spring by planning and preparing. They built a life raft out of precaution and they are determined not to capsize so close to shore. We owe our success as a species to the durability of our will to survive, but it comes at the cost of quite a lot of fear and a good deal of superstitious clinging.

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