By David Glenn Cox
Groucho Marx once said, “The world would be a better place if the parents had to eat the spinach.” A thought never more true than today. It was 1962, and we’d just stopped building automobiles out of wood and soybeans. I had to get a smallpox vaccination, so I could start school. And the only upside was so did my sister. We live in a Jetson’s future today, without ever realizing it. The future jumps out at you, while the past sneaks quietly away unnoticed. No one noticed disappearing phone booths until, “Hey Look, it’s a phone booth!” With the sidebar, where does Superman dress these days?
I’m unhappy about this upcoming shot. When you are small, the only relevant question in life’s mystery going to the doctors is, “am I gonna get a shot?” There are the tolerable doctors’ visits where they make you undress, and then they look at you like the ice cream man does when you’re dressed. Unpleasant, but tolerable, with your mother in the room. I tried my best six-year-old logic, “That drug is experimental! I don’t want to be a Guinea Pig. If everyone else gets their shot, it won’t matter. Because they’ll be no one to catch it from! Did you know? Rock & Roll musicians like Elvis, put hidden backwards Rock & Roll messages in those vaccines.”
For the first time in our entire sibling arrangement. My sister offered to let me go first at the doctor’s office, and my mother thought that was a noble and reasonable idea. This wasn’t the Jetson’s future; this was Teradactles circling overhead (and they should have enforced the hunting ban) just got rid of Eisenhower, old timey past. No FM radio, No Beatles, we wore flour sacks and had no little ring to give us our smallpox vaccination all at once.
I don’t how they do it now or even if they do it now, but back in the day. They hit you with a small plastic ring with nine points on it all at once. Or they also had an air gun that inoculated you with the squeeze of trigger. But oh no, Dave didn’t get any of that fancy “New” technology! Dave got the glass syringe from the felt lined Dracula carrying case, three-inch needle, nine shot, John Wayne, smallpox vaccination special.
My sister watching quietly in the corner lost it, knowing that she was Freddie Krueger’s next victim. Her tears were bouncing off the walls, and she became hysterical. The whole room tried to console her, this poor young girl traumatized, by seeing her younger brother butchered. Her poor younger brother cried alone, quietly looking at his bruised and swelling arm. We left and I was the only one vaccinated on that trip. My sister demanded the “Modern Technology” or nothing.
But whenever I got a shot and didn’t get ear splitting hysterical about it. We would stop at the store and I could pick out a small toy. Anything I wanted, anything at all, up to quarter. I would immediately head for the rubber band powered, balsa wood airplanes. I would use the whole twenty-five cents and get the best one the aerodrome had to offer. Six years and a rubber band airplane could make me forget all about life’s trauma, I’m over it now…mainly. I sleep through most nights. I still remember, but I’m over it. In a lot of ways, the past was hoot and I wish I could have stayed, but I would have missed out on all the fun.
Remember that Billy Joel music video? “We Didn’t Start the Fire!” I’m in that video, the whole damn thing! America – where you can land on the moon and lose a war all at the same time. Where you can create advance medical technology but can’t stop, them yokels, from eating dirt or mishandling poisonous snakes in the name of the lord. “Your MRI shows you have a dirt clod in your intestine.” Is that bad? “Well yes, I’m afraid it is Mr. Cletus. After your last hospital visit, your insurance company put a rider on your policy. You’ re not covered for ingesting dirt, sand, peat moss, paint chips, snake bites or lawn aggregate of any kind!” But God want’s me too! It’s my special religious belief! God says, “If you want build a palace in heaven, you gots to shit a brick first!”
Over seven billion people on this waterlogged mudball. Humanity spread out over the continents with hundreds of faiths and hundreds of beliefs. And only in one, localized portion of the planet in North America, is there any organized resistance to wearing a mask or getting the vaccine. Tribesmen in the Kalahari Desert understand. A housewife in rural China understands. A cab driver in San Paulo, Brazil understands. Down at the South Pole, at Ice Station Zebra they understand too! This is important because it deals directly with the intransigence of the Trumpozoid peoples.
Hypothetically, you awake tomorrow with a strange belief stuck in your head. But you honestly believe it with all your heart. Despite what experts and even your own family tell you, are steadfast in this belief. Everyone in the entire world is wrong! Doctors, so called public health officials, with decades of knowledge and experience, are all wrong! They all have an agenda, and even though likeminded people like you, are dying by the hundreds in local hospitals. You don’t know any of them, so it doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t count against your beliefs. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Dead right.”
But then, these are the people who take their car to the repair shop not knowing what is wrong with it. And then insist the shop doesn’t know either! People at the dry cleaners, who insist those aren’t their clothes and then get home and find out they are. Unhappy People, who don’t know their own business, but think they know yours better than you do! I won’t wear a mask, and Kroger can’t make me! Unhappy people, who believe the way to make eternal bliss for us all and make the world a better place is to bitch and complain a lot. And make a lot of noise about a lot about stupid things they know nothing about. They need to put up a sign at the local school board meetings, “If you don’t have a child enrolled in our schools – GO HOME!
I heard a GI telling a story once, about going ashore on Iwo Jima. He’s in the landing craft with smoke and gunfire all around him, and the waves are breaking over the gunnels. He looked at his Sargent and said, “Sergeant, I’m scared.” His Sargent looked back at him and answered in a loud voice, “Shut up!” The past held many virtues, now forgotten. I remember the GI story because it parallels a story of my own. I once told my mother that I didn’t want to be vaccinated, and she told me the same thing, “Shut Up!”
And then she told something, that I’ve never forgotten to this day. My mother was good to me and loved me. She explained things to young mind in a way I could grasp and understand. Understand the messages, that I would need to learn to be successful at life. She squatted down and patiently looked me right in the eyes, and in a sharp voice said, “Shut up! And stop acting like a baby!”