Yesterday Tina and I got our second dose of Pfizer vaccine, you know, so that we can have our genetic code altered or some shit.
I had a Thursday appointment at a Walgreens seven miles away. It was the only one available yesterday when I made my appointment on Wednesday. Tina made an appointment on Friday, but called the Walgreens I was headed to and asked if she could get one at the same time. The person on the other line said, “Yes, that should be fine.”
Tina’s deathly afraid of needles, so when the person said yes, she jammed straight into panic mode. We ended up taking a little CBD edible to calm our nerves and headed to Walgreens.
When we got there and waited in line for about 15 minutes, Tina practicing her breathing the entire time, the pharmacist negated the phone lady and said, “No, we aren’t taking walk-ins today. We’re booked solid.”
“Well I wished someone would have told me that on the phone. I wouldn’t have come and I wouldn’t have wasted all this time and energy psyching myself up,” she said through clinched teeth.
I filled out my paperwork, and waited for my shot. In the little room, the same lady that told Tina no, she couldn’t get hers today, chitchatted with me about my first experience.”
“I barely felt it the first time,” I said. “But my arm hurt like the dickens that night and the next day.”
“Whelp,” she responded. “Let’s aim for nothing going wrong this time.”
I didn’t feel the needle go in this time. We chitchatted a bit longer. She told me to hydrate with electrolytes and not to over exert myself. I was doing the happy dance on the way out. Laughing and carrying on. CBD edible must have kicked in.
I sat for a second to make sure I didn’t have a adverse reaction, and then turned to Tina and said, “Let’s jam. I don’t wanna sit here any longer.”
On North Avenue on the way back, we stopped a Walmart for a few items. We weren’t aware this one existed. It was one of those mirages that outside it just looked like a small grocery, but inside it expanded like a gigantic Costco.
Contrasted with the Walmart experiences in NC, everyone had a mask on, but the clientele was somewhat similar. Just an observation, but you can tell that most of these people were hard-working Americans with big families who can use the Walmart prices to their advantage.
We were wrapping up our shopping experience when Tina asked a Walmart employee if they were giving out the vaccine and if it would be possible to get one. She worked in the eye department, “but yeah, I think you can. Go ask the pharmacy.”
Tina said, “Go check out and I’ll wait in line to see.”
I went to check out and my phone buzzed in my pocket. With a mask on, you have to feed in your passcode to open your phone. I opened messages and read, “I think I can get it.”
I held down the text and chose thumbs up.
No matter what, I was going to have to sit in there with her, to hold her hand. We waited about 20 minutes and a guy I had seen on a screen rotating images of pharmacy staff and advertisements opened the door and said, “Next.” His name was Ehad.
Tina immediately froze up when she sat down. I reached for her hand and took it.
“Your name is Ehad, correct?” I asked the pharmacist.
“I saw your head shot on the screen outside. Those are nice.” He thanked me and then asked Tina a few questions. Birthdate. Name Spelling. Phone number.
Tina was sitting, eyes closed, her cheeks were sucking in and expanding with her mindful breathing. I turned to Tina and I asked, “Who’s that singer you were loving in the car on the way over?”
“I don’t know. Who?” she said nervously eyes still closed.
“You know. The guy with the funny voice,” I said.
“Yeah!” I responded. Her eyes opened and she laughed in my direction.
Tina LOVES Michael McDonald. Every time you’re near … I keep forgetting, we’re not in love any more… keep forgetting things will never be the same … again.
So I started singing this one song from the ride over and she laughed and sang, too. When Ehad reached for her arm to clean the place where he would be administering the shot, she tensed up.
“Relax” I sang. “You’re going to do great. He’s just prepping the arm. You’re fine.”
There’s not many words you can say to ease the mind of a shot sufferer. But all I can do is try.
The jab pinched but once too bad. She got a sticker and a cute bandaid. We thanked Ehad, who clearly got a kick out of our banter.
We headed out, but a shirt caught Tina’s eye and she stopped, but I kept going. I thought she was still beside me and I caught myself talking to nobody. I turned back and I heard, “I’m going to get this,” she was holding the shirt above her head. It was a fern print. Tina’s handle, if she ever chose one, would be Fern Hunter.
So I wandered out and text her to say, “I’ll see you at the car.”
In the car, I told Tina a story from a David Sedaris book I’m reading. I love how he takes these mundane stories and creates a sense of importance to them. “God, I wish I were a professional writer sometimes.”
“You are a great writer, Jer!” she said. “I tell you that all the time. You are the best writer I know.”
“You don’t know any writers,” I responded.
“But I read all the time.”
I sat for a second just soaking it in. I know she’s biased. And she claims that it’s more than just bias.
“I guess I just don’t understand how to become one,” I said. “I mean, I love photography and I understand how to make a living with it. But writing. That’s evasive.”
As a kid, I could write better than I spoke. And my mom was moved by that when I would respond to her punishments with a written response rather than a spoken one. My speaking voice ground her nerves. Or at least my bumbling and lack of speed and verbal agility. I kept journals. And I let my Christian guilt persuade me to lie to myself about my proclivities to, say, masturbate or think of girls sexually. I thought that if I wrote that the power of Jesus made me superhuman, I could actually be a person I was not.
Back in high school, I expressed interest in becoming a writer. And my then girlfriend’s dad was instrumental in encouraging it. He gifted me with books he loved and a subscription to the New Yorker, which was, as he knew it, the best short form writing on the planet.
In college, I prolifically wrote letters to that girlfriend. I exhausted myself. Handwriting every day. One Christmas, she gifted me with a journal in which she had jotted down highlights from my letters. “Jer quotes,” she called it. Or maybe it was “Jer bear quotes.”
Everybody loves Cheeses.
In the car as we turned onto our street, I said, “Man, it really meant a lot to me that my brother said that thing about how he loves talking to me about artistic things.”
The day before, I was talking to my brother on the phone. He was excited by a new band he heard of called Whispering Sons.”
“They’re just so cool,” he said. “They have this style that is new and fresh, but is obviously inspired by a range of music that is so clear, but rather esoteric in a way. I wonder how much rare music bands like this had to listen to to inspire this level of greatness.”
He explained that he wasn’t sure if the lead singer was male or female. “The voice sounds masculine, but a picture of the band looks like it’s a woman,” He said.
Toward the end of the conversation, he said, “Man, you’re really the only person I know I can talk to about stuff like this and really be heard. Like, you have intellectual responses and really listen.”
“Man, that’s so cool of you to say,” I said. “That’s exactly the person I like to be.”
We got off the phone. I was about to cook dinner and he was parking his car at my parents’ house to have dinner with them, my three aunts and a cousin who are visiting from Michigan.
Today, Tina and I are taking it easy. I’m writing this blog post in bed. My body is starting to ache from the shot and I feel tired. I’m going to use it as an excuse to take the day for myself. Selfishly sit for once and do nada.
Pet my dogs and cuddle. Maybe watch some At Home with Amy Sedaris. Read.
Oh, and pray to Bill Gates, my lord and savior. So that we can finally reach world domination. Drink the blood of children trafficked by liberal elites. Thanks, Obama!