16 May Presenting: Ultra-Unorthodox, an illustrated story
Once upon a time, there was a fanatical Orthodox community in New York City. Its people fervently believed that all that mattered in life was fearing an invisible deity called Covid. These zealots lived a peculiar life with special garb, arcane rules, peculiar customs, and believed all who didn’t do the same would doom all of humanity to hell.
They had bizarre rituals with oddly specific instructions, like washing hands for 30 seconds, leaving deliveries on the porch for 72 hours, and standing no more (and no less?) than six feet apart. They practiced “social distancing” and were prohibited from hugging and shaking hands, and they called this manner of living the “new normal.”
Our Covidism fanatics spent day and night feverishly studying their sacred text called The New York Times. They always followed the dogma of their cannon: The Science. They exalted their leaders, The Experts. They honked horns and banged pots for the foot soldiers of their faith.
In their Church of Zoom, their preachers reiterated that everything was worth the price of Saving Souls. Also, they talked about how selfish those were who did not heed the faith. They also agreed on the importance of snitching on friends and neighbors who were sinners, because, it was for their own good, no?
Our heroine, Etsy, was miserable. She was forced to sit cooped up with her extremist husband who obsessively sprayed sanitizer at her and who insisted on having sex with a hole in the sheet in order to avoid spreading an evil spirit called Germs.
Etsy was also was driven crazy by her mother-in-law who was always fixing a mask on her mouth, and by her aunt, who constantly told her that her purpose in life was to serve the higher purpose of Saving Souls by “sheltering in place” and never leaving the house, except to get bread (and even then, only when wrapped in layers of protection).
Etsy said “enough” and escaped! She ran all the way to Europe, specifically, a utopia-ish country called Sweden.
In Sweden, people were cool-cool and ate germs for lunch.
Etsy went to a beach crowded with people who were not standing six feet apart. She gasped. It was a profound culture shock and deeply liberating! Etsy slowly removed her mask (after stripping off all her clothing). A lot of people stared because she was naked and still had on a paper mask and rubber gloves. The moment was rife with symbolism and profound liberation as Etsy stood bare and defiant before the invisible Covid.
Later, Etsy met a random person at the concert hall, and that person held out a hand. Etsy shuddered. It was forbidden! Yet she slowly and brilliantly stretched out hers, and as their hands met, she was overcome with pleasure!
But Etsy’s escape wasn’t so easy. She was chased by a tracing committee sent by The Experts. But the committee got too lightheaded from breathing in their own carbon monoxide, so they never managed to drag her back and force her into isolation.
Meanwhile back home, Etsy was ostracized by everyone and called a “denier” and not a believer in The Science, and her grandmother said, “you are killing me!”
Etsy was not considered brave. Netflix did not make a film of Etsy. Etsy died. Of Covid 2119. She was 146 years old at the time of death and caught the virus from her fantastic lover. If you put your ear to her tombstone, you can hear her having herself a good laugh.