Thursday, April 30, 2020

Journal of the Plague Months: Vol. 2, No. 6 "Rest assured, dearie. We'll all bowl again"

Staying on an even keel during a pandemic has been challenging. The already steep pile of bad news continues to grow on both the economic and health fronts -- even as occasional glimmers of hope pierce the darkness.

Who could help but be buoyed by the announcement that the drug, Remdesivir may have a beneficial effect in treating Covid19? Even the ever-cautious Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and possibly the most trusted man in America, seemed cheered by the news that those who contract the virus may now have a drug-mediated pathway to recovery.

The biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences makes Remdesivir. No one seemed to be bothered by the fact that Gilead was the name novelist Margaret Atwood assigned to the oppressive society that took over the US in The Handmaid's Tale. Never mind the biblical references that may have inspired Atwood. If Gilead produces the cure, bring it on. I'm not about to quibble over the name.

So I approached Thursday’s newspapers with a bit of optimism. It didn't last.

My mood soured when I read a quote in a Denver Post story about a briefing given by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who was discussing the state's plan to ramp up testing. Good. A plan, I thought. But Polis also emphasized that his limited approach to opening the state’s economy did not yet apply to Colorado's older population or those at high risk.

"We can't wait until our senior friends can go back to bowling leagues and movie nights," said Polis. "But that's not in May."

Please, governor. Not in May? How about not ever?

If you've paid any attention to Polis's pronouncements during the pandemic, you may (like me) be tempted to say that the governor has a tin ear or, if you want to take it a step further, that he has no idea how to talk about the aging part of the population.

Look, I have nothing against bowling, bowling leagues, or any other organized activity for seniors. Obviously, I've had my share of movie nights -- although I still manage to drive myself to the theater. I bristle at the suggestion that all seniors group together to attend movies. Most people over 65 still can hold their own popcorn.

When a politician talks about being eager to see "our senior friends" go back to anything, he's indulging in a stereotypical description that doesn't fit anyone I know.

As a person on the cusp of 77, I know lots of people in their 70s and some in their 80s. These include practicing attorneys, physicians, architects, artists, writers, journalists, members of various non-profit boards, therapists, educators, and filmmakers. They frequent restaurants, museums, art galleries, theaters, movies, and concerts. They maintain their homes and pay taxes.

I can't vouch for the hair color of all of them, but none of them have blue hair.

As far as I know, all of them are staying home because they have no desire to contract the virus or make anyone else sick.

That isn't easy for people who don't try to segregate themselves from the more youthful parts of society.

Many of the people I know can tell you stories about being slighted because of age. Most of them shrug such things off in good-humored fashion. Sometimes they'll offer a corrective to the offending party, a waitperson who might thoughtlessly use words such as "hon” -- an abbreviation for the equally offensive "honey'' -- when addressing an older customer.

Oops. "Hon" isn't a word, is it?

Look, I'm talking about active folks who contribute to society even while keeping one eye peeled for the approaching Reaper.

And, oh yeah, they also vote. As one of his "senior friends," I suggest that the 44-year-old governor of Colorado give that some thought next time he’s tempted to characterize those who only see 65 when looking into life's rearview mirror.

No comments: