Here is what my local paper’s headline said: “Socializing is a must for many on the 4th.”
Digging in we find that “For some, it was a time to throw caution to the wind and reclaim normalcy as they headed to a lake cabins, parks and backyard barbecues…Across the state, Minnesotans are making their own decisions while health care and government officials hold their breath…”
The quest for normalcy is powerful enough to make people dishonest with themselves, so you get sentences of this form: “I heard the Virus did/didn’t really do this/that/other thing, so I guess it is OK if I whatever-whevever [fill in idiotic decision here].”
Let me tell you what normal is. You go a week without a funeral. Several weeks. Maybe months, or a year. Normal is not when one of your relatives, friends, work associates, one of the kids in your child’s class, or the parent of one of the kids, or the old person that lives two doors down but you never talk to much but they just took her away in the ambulance, or a checkout person who’s name you never knew, or two of the nurses at the hospital your kid was born in, etc. etc. … normal is not when one of those people dies on average about every 14 day or so (but sometimes with longer gaps, sometimes in clusters) at the peak of Your Local Epidemic.
If you want to achieve normalcy during the 365 days between moments of must, when you must do the thing that is least recommended by people who must be much smarter than you are, then you must not. This applies to gatherings on the fourth, it will apply to all the holidays throughout much of the year. Next winter holidays, like Christmas and New years, or before that, Halloween which seems to have become the local Spring Break party holiday among America’s 20-somethings, or the most traveled day of the year, Thanksgiving, if you must seek normalcy the grim reaper must seek your family and fiends.
And eventually, not your parents, cousins, children, or neighbors. But you. Ask not for whom the germ theory tolls.
Earlier this week a dude driving a truck while texting meandered off the road and ran over a woman, killing her. More horrifically, she was on a bike towing a child trailer occupied by her two children, one and four years of age, so they got to watch their mom die. The man who apparently killed this woman, on a road in southern Minnesota, is Christopher Weber of Madison, South Dakota. Apparently he was texting. Assuming this happened as reported, we have here a case of someone being a complete moron and a lot of other people paying a terrible price. “A person who … causes the death of a human being not constituting murder or manslaughter or the death of an unborn child may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.” So the four year old will be 14 when Weber gets out of prison if he is given the maximum and serves his time. A lot of people will find this unsatisfying.
A couple of years ago I wrote about Huxley, who is now four, and how he was learning to swim. A couple of days ago he jumped off the dock on his own (more or less) for the first time. That is a major accomplishment, apparently. I’m not a big swimming person. I think the idea is that at a certain age you just start jumping off the dock all the time. Everyone in Amanda’s family seem to do it frequently. Sometimes they jump off the boat. Sometimes it seems that the main reason you go up north is to jump off of things into the water.
We are strict about following the safety rules for Huxley, but we are less strict for ourselves. Well, technically we follow the rules, but really, shouldn’t every body always be wearing their life vests all the time if they are anywhere near water just in case??? OK, maybe I’m taking that too far, but the truth is that a large percentage of the people who die in boating or dock related accidents didn’t have their life vests on, and the whole point of a life vest is to keep your breathing holes out of the water when you fall unconscious into it (or hit your head on the way down). How embarrassing it must be to die of drowning in 3 feet of water because you hit your head. According to me, in an earlier post that links to a source that is gone but I don’t have time to find a new version,
Not wearing a life vest when you are on a recreational boat is about the same as not wearing your seat belt when driving on the highway: Perhaps 8 out of 10 water-recreation related deaths in the US in recent years would not have happened were the person wearing a life vest (as in wearing, not just having one nearby). In 2008, about 700 people died in boating accidents in the US. Over 500 of those deaths were by drowning. Of those, abut 50 were wearing their life vest.
Drowning, it turns out, does not look like drowning. It often looks like nothing at all. From your point of view at the pool side, in the cabana, at the beach, or on the boat, drowning simply looks like this: The person simply isn’t there any more because they quietly slipped to the bottom of the water after quietly struggling mostly out of your sight.
So keep that mind.
So when you are going off for the Fourth of July weekend, don’t text while you drive, keep a life vest on at appropriate times, and remember that drowning is quite. Also, don’t put electrical wires in the lake, don’t drink too much, and practice lightning awareness safety.
Also, fireworks, don’t point them at people. And don’t bring your gun into Target. I’m more than a little annoyed that Target “respectfully requests” guests to not bring firearms into their stores. Those people deserve not one iota of respect. They are bullies. They should be tossed out on their ears.
Remember: The fourth of July is, in essence, the celebration of a war in which a lot of people died or were maimed, but as a culture we consider it to have been worth it. But now we just celebrate it, not re-enact it. Stay safe this weekend.