How was your summer? Ours was rough. We got some scary news this spring, and I haven’t known how to tell you, since you’ve been having parties in your yard that — rumor has it — involve hugging. Turns out our whole family is COVID intolerant.
You haven’t heard of this? It’s a crazy thing. Before March, we’d never heard of COVID then, pow, intolerance hit us all. My parents are especially sensitive. You know they are in their seventies, so their COVID intolerance is even worse than your lactose intolerance. It won’t give them stinky farts, but it could kill them. Yeah, it’s like your son’s peanut allergy but with no EpiPen.
We’ve been isolating in our house and backyard only seeing people from at least a husband length away — we use him as a measuring tool now since he’s six feet tall, so convenient! — and when we go out we wear masks. Who’d have thought we’d be those weirdo zealots?
Anyway, with school and soccer starting up, I can’t avoid you anymore, so I wanted to let you know that I need your help. Remember that school potluck I put on last year where all the food was separated into vegan, vegetarian, lactose-free, gluten-free, and other random sensitivities? (I still want to understand the ramifications of that kid’s watermelon sensitivity, but whatever.) You gushed, thanking me for caring about your kids and allowing them to enjoy the feast safely, just like all the other kids. Wasn’t that kind and considerate of me? Well, now I need you to wear a mask and stop hugging people so I can feel like you care about my kid too.
The deal is, this mask I’m wearing only protects me a little. (Yep, I made it myself. I’m basically a COVID prepper.) In order to keep my COVID intolerance from flaring up, I need you to wear a mask too, so that any COVID germs you have stick in your mask and not to my face. Oh, of course you don’t have COVID… but maybe you do. People can have COVID and not know it, kind of like that irresponsible room mom last Halloween that didn’t know licorice has gluten. Mistakes happen. You might be laughing and shouting germs all over and never know until someone gets sick. Imagine how embarrassed you’d feel if you accidentally killed my parents. They say hi by the way.
I could be overreacting. I mean, I don’t know exactly how much COVID I need to be exposed to for my intolerance to trigger, but do you know how much peanut exposure your son needs before anaphylaxis hits? Is it a single molecule? Half an M&M’s worth? Medicine isn’t as exact as we’d like it to be, is it?
Of course — this is awkward — I expect you to make fun of me. Giggle about how I’m a germaphobe while you embrace your neighbors. Laugh with your too-close friends about how I wipe down my groceries, quarantine my mail, and have my daughter play soccer wearing a mask. I get it. I’ve been there. Back when your daughter announced her asymptomatic gluten intolerance, I totally kept my composure to your face. Behind your back, it’s still my favorite story to share with my friends that have food intolerance intolerance. It’s hilarious. But I made sure the carpool kept goldfish crackers out of the car so your precious child wouldn’t develop asymptoms. Once you are done snickering, can you find it in your heart to at least be polite? Fake it, smile, put on your mask, and step back a few feet? I know it’s uncomfortable, but so is kneeling on my driveway vacuuming up goldfish crumbs from my car floor.
This was a hard note to write, but I feel better knowing that you know our situation. Oh! I almost forgot. I don’t want to scare you, but they think this COVID intolerance is pretty universal. Have you talked to your doctor? Your allergist? Your acupuncturist? Because your family might have it too. Sigh, life is so scary, but I’m here to support you any way I can, from a husband-length away.
Virtual hugs! Miss you!