Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll is MISSING NORMAL. She writes:

I filled my 2012 Hyundai with gas a week ago. Big deal, right? It was only the SECOND time I have done that since the 2-week “flattening the curve” lockdown in March of 2020. How is that possible, you ask? Well, Max has a car, too, and we used that for longer trips into Phoenix to doctors when he had health issues which, thank God, are resolved.

The tank was full on my car when the first lockdown began, so I have used two tanks of gas in almost 12 months to go back and forth to the grocery store. That tells you how close I am to everything in the Dusty Little Village and also how long, unkempt, and “platinum blonde” (none dare call it “grey”) my ponytail is right now.

I miss socializing. With a couple exceptions, we have spent one of the remaining years of our lives going nowhere and doing nothing. Okay, I wrote 52 columns, give or take, and Max wrote a wonderful novel, available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I cooked two meals a day every bleeping day for a year. For about half that time I even cleaned my own house until the day I woke up and said, “I’m getting my housekeeper back because she’s worth getting COVID for.” She is. But, thank God again, neither she nor we got the Wuhan Plague. By the time you read this, we will have had our second Moderna shots. I will make a bonfire of masks. Double masks forever, Fauci-style? Not gonna happen. Wouldn’t be prudent.

I miss dining out. Last week, some delightful commenter visitors treated us to dinner at our favorite little Thai place and that was also the first time we had eaten inside a restaurant since last March. While we were waiting for Tom and Lois to meet up with us – they being on a wild-goose chase to the wrong restaurant whose address I had given them (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) – we had a drink on the outdoor patio of a bar next door.

I miss smiling faces. Or even frowny ones. There was a big bold sign on the door of the bar that said, “MASKS REQUIRED.” Max went in to get our drinks and literally NOBODY inside had a mask on. He said, “God, I LOVE Arizona.” Almost certainly more concealed weapons than masks and not a Karen in the vicinity. A warming glass of house red and a toast to LIFE and FREEDOM (remember those?) out on the patio with the exiled smokers.

It felt absolutely delicious to sit with a naked face on a patio, many feet from others, SMILING at other customers and enjoying an adult libation. A funny comparison occurred to me. Back in the day, with our underdog sympathies intact, we had respected the grape boycott in solidarity with the Farmworkers. It went on for a couple of grape-less years. At some point they must have settled, because one day it became okay to eat grapes again. And I remember feeling almost sinful buying them and they tasted wonderful. That’s what it felt like to be able to smile at strangers again. I felt vaguely naughty and practically giddy.

It has been a very surreal year with both terrible isolation and forced family togetherness. Max and I are way more used to prolonged togetherness than most married couples. For many decades, we both worked out of our home, though comedy frequently took me on the road for days at a time. Sometimes Max and our son and foster kids had no idea where I even was. Friends would ask, “Where is Susan performing this week?” “Uh…either Biloxi or Billings, I think. It’s possible I wasn’t really listening when she told me. One of those ‘Bil’ places.”

During the endless wretched last year, we have only had people over on a few occasions, with the stupid fist-bumps instead of hugs. At our age and with friends with co-morbidity issues, we tried to do what was recommended. I miss both handshakes and hugging. I am a touchy-feely person and I need human contact. Sniffing kids’ hair just doesn’t do it for me.

Max is not such a huggy guy and particularly not with men. There is one exception: A yuge, muscular guy named Jim, about 6’4”, 260 lbs., our poker playing buddy and veteran of several years’ worth of campaigns in the Middle East. He will just grab people of any random gender and crush them, grinning from ear to ear, and you just go with the flow as resistance is futile. I think he is mostly just thrilled and astonished to be alive, having been blown up by an IED and spending 19 months in a VA Hospital. I felt like we owed him all the hugs he wanted.

I miss my extended family. I have not seen my elderly father or any other family members in over 15 months. Normally, I would have seen Daddy three times during that period. Our son and his family had just come to AZ in early March 2020 for Spring Training. It seems almost impossible to imagine, but, in addition to three ballgames, we took a lake cruise with dozens of others; visited a cheesy “ghost town” and ate terrible, yet over-priced, food in a cramped space; we wandered around like normal free Americans. Then it all crashed to a halt. At the time, our whole county had 15 known cases of COVID and no deaths. I thought as long as I stayed out of a New York long-term care facility, we would be fine. But things got far worse. People I knew got terribly sick; people I had loved for decades died.

We have a friend who has 12 grandchildren and the latest little fellow in Minnesota, born just days after the first lockdown, has never seen him or any other adults without a mask, except for his mother and father. Think about that. What a bizarre world it must seem to the baby. Remember Hanoi Jane Fonda chortling about COVID19 being a “gift from God to the Democrats”? Haha, good one, Janie. Why, I remember when you “found Christ” right before your — third? fourth? — marriage broke up. I believe that’s right out of one of the lesser-known books of the Bible, Hypocrites 16:19: “And, verily, if Commies let loose a pestilence that kills half a million Americans, be sure to yuk it up if it helps your pals get back in power.”

Once when I was a young teenager, my dear paternal grandfather of blessed memory told me that for fun on hot South Dakota summer evenings his six kids would pile into the car and they would go for a drive with the windows wide open. As night fell, they would return home and the kids, stalling off bedtime, would say, “Please, Daddy, just once more round the schoolhouse.” At the time he was telling me this, of course, all his kids were grown and gone, the oldest, a Marine, had given his life for his country, there was a Gold Star in the window and an entirely new “normal.” He said to me, “Susie, I wasn’t patient enough then. Now, I would give all I own to have those kids in that car to go once more round the schoolhouse.”

I was too young to appreciate the full impact of that, but now I do. We all do. But there is no “Rewind” button on life. To get back to normal, we must conquer the virus and the fear of it. We must go forward, save our Republic, and defeat the haters with mockery and joy. Let them Tweet hate when a national hero dies. Let them rot their souls with envy, greed, and mob bullying. We will stay defiantly happy. But we will also fight for the 2nd Amendment. Because though joy and mockery are useful weapons, sometimes they have proved insufficient.

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