For the second time in less than four hours, I read and heard the word “virologist” for the first time in my life. Barely able to even pronounce the word without chewing it up, I soon understood that virologists study viruses. All kinds. Every kind I suppose. And the hot topic this week being the Coronavirus, well, I figured I should stop watching videos on Facebook of my friends playing music in bars and educate myself on this deadly disease that seems to be a sneeze away from killing me.
The great political pundit, former member of the House of Representatives and radio host, Arnie Arnesen from Concord, posted on Facebook some strict advice from James Robb M.D., a virologist of the highest order, a czar when it comes to the coronavirus. His instructions were like many others delivered by leading virologists: disinfect, soap up, lather, hot water, don’t belch into your little sister’s face. That kind of stuff.
But some of Dr. Robb’s counseling rubbed me wrong and would really cramp my flow. They create a greater physical distance from ourselves with each other. And that doesn’t work for me.
For instance, the first step is: No Handshaking. Some might sigh with relief for that one. I understand. Personally, I have a big issue with Robb’s suggestion. I spend most my days pressing my sweaty mitt around someone’s wrist, pledging my allegiance. I’m comfortable with it. Haven’t always been, but now I am. It’s a great ice breaker if properly executed. And if the handshake doesn’t take hold at first, well, just scratch their palm with your index finger underneath if you’re not feeling the love. You’d be surprised how often it works.
What’s the alternative? Elbow bump? NO thank you. I would rather fall flat on my face tripping over my feet down the aisle of a movie theater, popcorn in hand, than go elbow-to-elbow with some other dude. A head nod, sure. An elbow bump, or, Dear God, no, not the harrowing fist bump! Loathe this cultural phenomenon! It’s time we recognize the lameness in that ritual. Always has been a cheap date since its inception some years back. I never liked it. Feel like a clown doing it, a chump. The high-five is more than enough. It’s a sad substitution for an honest handshake, like the one your father and grandfather taught you. Eye to eye, subtle up and down, firm grip, enunciate your greeting. “How you been, Mama? Fine, baby. Just fine.”
Plus, I mess up the fist bump all the time. Trained to go for the hand when I see an arm extended in my direction, I end up half slapping and punching some cat’s hairy fist. We both look and feel ridiculous. It just happened last week at Consuelo’s Taqueria on Manchester Street. I was picking up some quesadilla and the owner of the place reached over the grill for a fist bump. Should have been easy enough, right? But I screwed it up by shaking his gloved fist, laughing uncomfortably and leaving the place even less at ease than when I arrived. But that’s another story.
Dr. Robb does touch on some precautionary measures that pique my interest. Like opening doors with a closed fist or hip and flicking light switches with your knuckle. I like it. I do it. Even better yet, I don’t even like doors, so hip-checking one like Cam Neely or jabbing at it like Tex Cobb is gonna feel okay. Often times, I see a door as a barrier, a massive blockage that’s trying to hold me back. And, well, that’s why I like to kick doors whenever I can get away with it. Something freeing about it. Not that hard, but enough to let that door know that I’m coming through, like it or not. Some doors swing harder than others. Some barely swing at all. But they all open one kick or another.
There must be something about the tightness of one’s skin that can combat the Coronavirus from reaching you because every suggested motion — whether it’s fist or finger — involved the skin tightening around a knuckle. Little did we know, the knuckle isn’t just about pleasure. It can also be your greatest protector, in and out of the ring.
Finally, with all this talk about washing and flicking and kicking, coughing and belching, why don’t we all settle on just wearing gloves and masks for the next few weeks and be done with it. We can have some fun. Play dress up, wear cool ventilated masks with teeth marks and scars, line your hands with leather gloves, Heath Barkley style. Hell, wear a cape if you want. Don a sombrero. I’m going for the old bandit cowboy on the plains look, red bandana around the face, straw cowboy hat with an arrow through the top.
However you decide to protect yourself from this “low level” crisis, do it well, do it often and have fun with it, but remember, Mama’s chicken stew ain’t gonna cure this flu.
“It’s just a sneeze away, sneeze away, sneeze away. Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah…”
You can reach Rob Azevedo at email@example.com