I Might Assault You – If Only In My Mind
by Kenneth Cooper
So we’re at this church for a coronavirus version graduation. Everybody is spread out 6 feet apart, because contrary to what the president says, the coronavirus is still raging. And while we’re at this church, we’re supposed to wear a mask, because to repeat, the coronavirus is still raging. And according to most doctors, the safest thing to do is wear a mask. Even if you don’t believe them, it’s still the socially responsible thing to do. Wearing a mask is really important.
The governor, mayor and local parish presidents have mandated them. Any uptick in cases will be attributed partly to people refusing to wear a mask, so by not wearing a mask, you’ll just provide more evidence why you should be required to wear one and cause us all to be stuck in this new normal as a result . And it was in this contentious, and pandemically infectious environment, that a man sat a few pews in front of me with a mask hanging under his nose. I took it to be an act of defiance.
May 16th, 1983 – An important day in pop history
Michael Jackson is on stage at the Motown 25th Anniversary celebration dancing to Billie Jean. Arms are flailing, hips are gyrating. At one point, he pauses, tosses his hat, does a series of pelvic thrusts, then raises up on his forefeet and proceeds to slide backwards across the stage. Though Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon 14 years earlier, his moonwalk paled compared to Michael’s. Yes, Armstrong made a moment, but Michael created a movement.
Moonwalking, according to my own definition, is the artful way of backing away from something.
Back to that defiant dude at church. In my fantasy, I yanked him by the collar and drug him down the aisle. Parents, students, and faculty were going crazy, cheering me on. When I got to the door, I pushed it open. Bright sunlight poured in, illuminating the stained glass. I tossed the man down the stairs, dusted off my palms, then pointed my index finger at him. “And until you put the damn mask on right,” I said, “stay out.” I closed the door and turned to thunderous applause.
Instead, I just sat there watching him, wondering why so many like him refuse to just put the mask on. They’re everywhere, the mask-less, despite the mandate, despite signs on the doors of all stores that say a mask is required to enter.
July 13th, 2020. 37 years have passed since Michael Jackson slid across that stage, and moonwalking is still all the rage. Even the mayor is doing it. Last week, Mayor LaToya Cantrell moonwalked away from the full on Phase 2 reopening we’ve been under for the past few weeks. She announced that restaurants and bars were restricted from seating customer’s at their bars, and indoor gatherings were restricted to 25 people. This leaves us in a purgatory like environment, stuck between Phase 1 and Phase 2 (Phase 1b maybe?) while we repent the sins of not properly masking-up and keeping social distance.
Saturday, Governor John Bel Edwards one-upped the mayor and closed bars statewide, except for curbside service, and then moonwalked away from his previous position of not making masks mandatory statewide. They are now.
The Saints are moonwalking away from the idea that the season will go forward with fans. Now, season ticket holders have the option of a refund or having their tickets roll over to next season, provided that we all aren’t on respirators by then.
BESE, via a special board meeting this Tuesday, is set to moonwalk away from any thought that the upcoming school year will resemble normalcy. HB59 from this year’s special session gives BESE the authority to set COVID guidelines. One of those guidelines may include masks.
Of course, there will be objections and hyperbole inducing pronunciations about “mah freedoms” from hypocritical parents who will do willingly submit to other government restrictions. They accept the requirement to be scanned or patted down from elbow to anus before boarding a plane, but somehow find being forced to wear a mask a freedom breaking bridge they just can’t cross.
But that’s where we are now, moonwalking back to Phase 1 restrictions because some are too selfish to sacrifice during a pandemic. Maybe local and state government should start implementing fines to go with the mandates. And maybe more of us mask wearing citizens should stop being so tolerant and start calling these people out. After all, there’s little satisfaction to be gained from assaulting people in your mind.