October 13, 2021
-by Frank Macdonald
COVID, the most recognizable germ in the world next to Donald Trump, has been photographed more times than Harry and Meghan so its image is familiar. It is reminiscent of WWII mine adrift in the Atlantic, aching to blow up a passing ship.
I know! I know! Technically, it is not a COVID; it is the coronavirus, a virus laced with COVID-19 explosives in search of vulnerable, unsuspecting or sceptical persons it can try to kill. It is not always successful. Mostly it just sickens, as do people who refuse to protect me and mine by getting vaccinated.
Using another weak and watery metaphor, it is the equivalent of an iceberg drifting towards a world full of potential Titanics. The Titanic was one of those moments in human history when the genius within the species was so impressed by itself that it called the biggest ship ever built at the time “unsinkable.”
All through history, there are similar examples of people of genius, or intellectual brilliance, made utterly stupid by their own arrogance. In the above case, it turns out that it was Molly Brown and a few boat loads of former passengers seeking asylum somewhere ashore, who were unsinkable.
The ship, arguably a feat of engineering probably comparable to the Great Pyramid, did not survive the pompous pride with which it was launched, being quickly doused by a chunk of ice. (The builders of the Great Pyramid were wise enough to keep their cone of stone on dry land.)
As the human race tries to avoid or survive the COVID, and most do, global deaths from the virus exceed four million. That’s a lot of people, but not a lot of viral success.
In the wilderness where the lions and the leopards prey, the image we have is that whenever they are hungry they go out and off an antelope the way we go downtown to buy a ice cream cone. People who study predators in the wild have found a much different result to predator hunting.
The lion and leopard and whatever else preys upon prey, have an average kill rate comparable to the best hitters in baseball who bat about .300. If the prey didn’t escape most of the time, the lions and the leopards would soon be going hungry, having already eaten up the rest of the world’s creatures.
The coronavirus isn’t hitting anywhere near those numbers, but it is inflicting an incredible amount of pain, suffering, death, and mourning.
There is a defence against the disease, a vaccine that can protect one from its chilling diagnosis. If a vaccinated person does contract the virus, and it has happened, in most cases the sickness is mild and manageable and short-lived.
In our house, we have been double vaccinated so it was no big deal, during a recent medical trip to Sydney, to know that if we wanted to eat in a favourite restaurant we would need to provide proof of vaccination.
We had our consultation and before setting out for home decided to enjoy a hearty meal. At the door, we were queried about COVID, then asked to show proof of a double vaccination for each of us.
Like the couple ahead of us, I had my phone with me. They had shown an image and picture of themselves on their phone and were granted access to a menu.
Then it was our turn. My phone is a hopeless aide to anything I do except make phone calls. While the guard at the door, there to protect customers who cleared customs, asked for our proof of vaccination, I frisked myself the way I used to frisk myself while asking a friend for a cigarette, sign language for “I must have left mine at home.”
And this time I really did. As I stood in that doorway, inhaling all the choices inside, my head was filled with an image that should have filled our phone, if I knew how. I could see it clearly, our printed-out proofs of vaccination firmly pinned by strong magnets to the fridge door. Through an oversight, like a parent who might occasionally forget a kid, the proofs did not make the voyage with us. Would a picture of our fridge door have passed? Probably not.
There was considerable disappointment, of course, but it was streaked with the highlight of knowing that when we return to this restaurant, we will be armed with proof, granted access, and a menu from which we will enjoy the freedom of a choice.
A couple of hours later, back home and hungry, the proof on the fridge door was granting us access to whatever groceries we did not want to turn into future compost.
Unless, of course, in our absence, and despite the pride of having taken steps to try to beat the COVID, one of the fridge’s ice cubes had broken free and wreaked havoc with this week’s Co-op shopping, sinking our chances of enjoying anything more than a bit of tomato, a scrap of untainted cheese, and milk I’d rather not sniff.