Swing and a Miss

Have you ever noticed that the moment people get caught doing something they weren’t supposed to, that’s the moment they become sorry for whatever they did? Suggesting, of course, that many sorry people are less sorry about committing some wrong than they are that they got caught.

In the case of our virus — have you heard? There’s one going around — it doesn’t matter how apologetic anyone becomes, or how they try to spread their message post-virus, sometimes even post-mortem: no one is interested in listening. Until they fall victim themselves.

I was looking to see how Nate Silver and company at fivethirtyeight.com are handicapping the Georgia senate races (answer: they don’t appear to be addressing it at all) when I noticed a graph off to the side: 34 percent of Americans are concerned about contracting covid-19. One third.

Which I suppose helps explain why three additional politicians in California, all of them Democrats, have now been found to be disregarding their own advice when it comes to staying home for the holidays and not eating at restaurants. A couple of them appear to have been within the letter of the law, but all of them have gone against what is obviously just rhetoric to them as they address their constituents.

In the meantime, a hospital somewhere in Nevada has repurposed a parking garage as an alternative care site. (Unless you’re in the hoax camp, in which case this is completely fake news. Carry on.)

Here is a true story, although I read it in one of those fake mainstream newspapers —

[Have you noticed how more and more of everything is becoming fake, including the governor and secretary of state of Georgia, who once had sterling reputations as vote suppressors extraordinaire? Don’t you think this maybe ought to worry some people who think undying allegiance will be enough to save them? Sneeze wrong, and there you are, on the wrong side of a border wall that really never got built and is in danger of falling down where it did get erected.]

— and I’m going to start with the end: ” ‘If I thought for one minute that he or anyone would end up in the hospital, I would certainly not have had our event,’ he said.” Have you heard that one before? I sure have, but it’s a story that never gets old, does it?

The beginning of this story comes with some fun twists, or perhaps that’s trysts: It started with the Naughty N’awlins swingers convention. Yes, in New Orleans, and for all I know, every other city in America, there are unconventionals for people who like to experiment with different sexual partners. I did not know this until this morning, just so you know.

Apparently this is an annual event, regularly permitted, but no permit was required this year, because the attendance of 250 people was only a tenth of the usual turnout, or turnabout. And we can’t say organizer Bob Hannaford didn’t try.

He and his team met with city officials, they said, to set up safety guidelines, which included requiring all attendees to either test negative for the virus or have antibodies. It sounds like now Mr. Hannaford thinks those with antibodies might have been contagious.

He cancelled his dance floor. He required masks, although if there were attendees who could perform sexual acts from six feet away I imagine they were in high demand. People were asked to keep track of who they met with, and groups were supposed to be limited in size to nine or less — how disappointing for some, I suppose — and masks on but for eating and drinking. (The story did not say, so we are left to speculate as to the rules during what Sheldon on The Big Bang — different context, people, keep up — there is no way to avoid the quadruple entendre here, is there? — liked to refer to as “coitus.”)

Unconventional conventioneers were so happy to be able to participate, we’re told — until the Monday after the convention, when a woman who had gone in testing negative suddenly tested positive. By the end of that day, she was joined — we’re no longer at the convention — by four others; Tuesday the count went to 14; by Wednesday it was 29.

Now, two weeks out, 41 out of 250 have tested positive (1 of every 6, if you’re counting), and while many cases are asymptomatic or mild, at least one man has been hospitalized. For the organizer, who was trying responsibly to organize irresponsibility, that’s one too many, and he took to his blog with his tale of repentance.

“I wouldn’t do it again if I knew then what I know now,” Mr. Hannaford said.

And really, how was he to know? It’s not like this has been in the collective awareness, and not a single public health department anywhere in the world, up to and including the World Health Organization, has posted a single dire warning about the consequences of group gatherings. It’s not like stories have been published by reputable sources and posted on less reputable social media sites on a daily basis since, oh, say, March, story upon story that starts with a similar premise (perhaps not the salacious nature of this particular one) and ends in the hospital, or perhaps the morgue. How could he have known?

In fairness to Mr. Hannaford, he seems to have sincerely tried as hard — I just can’t help it — as he could to put on a safe event, one a fraction of its usual excesses (or so I imagine), and he seems genuinely regretful and attempting to atone as he detailed in his blog where all the planned safety features went awry.

But it’s just yet another in a string of cautionary tales: no matter how cautious, while this virus stalks rampant through our country, there really aren’t safe events. Hopefully it ends better than today’s other cautionary tale, about a couple in their 70s who just simply grew tired of leading their life of extreme caution and went to a restaurant to eat. They both died at the same hospital, at the same minute, from this virus they were just plain worn out from trying to avoid.

If you are among the 34 percenters — the ones who understand this virus is insidious, with a very long reach — you don’t need any of these cautionary stories. If you’re of the 66, I doubt there’s a single story that’s going to arrest your attention sufficiently — until you become the center of one. But I guess we’ll keep telling them, in the hopes that maybe one person out there will take heed. Maybe it will sell better once sex gets thrown into the mix.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s