ChickenShit

chickenshit
Katharina Fritsch, Hahn/Cock, 2013
"I cannot quite imagine a payoff or penalty worth the risk just yet."

Much of what tries to pass as information emanating from the current administration (which cannot seem to properly administer anything) bounces right off me. I can't care about crowd sizes or Our President's glowing self-assessments. I know they're all lies, and I'm not surprised or deeply troubled by them. He's a troubled man publicly wrestling with himself and largely losing. It's not really a fair fight. I mostly pity the poor guy, who by many accounts, never believed that he'd ever be elected into office and never really took to The White House. I understand that he'd really rather be golfing, a man his age, accustomed to big swindles and dedicated to never working very hard. He's arm candy gone stale and bitter, no longer really fit for public observation yet addicted to the stage. He seems to live in a dismissive rage now that he's the most powerful man in the world, or was before he started shedding power in favor of force which, of course, reliably backfired on him. Then he took to lying about our Damned Pandemic, obviously not even trying for a shred of truth, and I noticed that I noticed this and watched myself turn all ChickenShit.

ChickenShit's a Junior High word describing anyone unwilling to accept an unreasonable challenge.
If, for instance, one refused to crawl up on the HVAC system to peek through the BB hole into the girl's locker room, one would be deemed ChickenShit. It roughly translates into 'scared', but scared of a special sort. It connotes someone scared of their own shadow, lacking all sense of valor, unwilling to take one for the team. It's a taunt, really, delivered largely to deflect one's own questionable courage. You might not willingly take that plunge, either, but calling someone else ChickenShit safely secures you out of any spotlight. You, after all, weren't asked to slay the dragon, so you've gained license to rag on the poor soul who was asked and declined the opportunity. Labeling myself ChickenShit violates the primary convention of even using this epithet, but we live in extraordinary times.

I learned this weekend that our beloved library had reopened its doors. Five overlong months since I last stepped inside and I noticed that I could not bring myself to return. Not now. Not yet. I felt like a big ChickenShit, but there I was. The rumors now swirling around the contagion have nudged me ever more deeply underground. I maintain a short list of what I firmly believe to be safe practices and places, and this list includes no
public places. I'm past due for a visit to collect license plates for the second car, but I cannot bear to enter what we derisively call The Taj Mahal (our county office building) to take a number and wait in what I imagine to be a contagious crowd. I have my mask and my sanitizer and we're living under a finally strict mask-in-public order from the governor, yet I'm still ChickenShit. If I was a parent of small children, I'd have nothing to do with anyone's reassurances that it is now safe to open up and just get on with school. I can spot a come-on from more than a mile distant. I might be ChickenShit, but I want to avoid getting suspended more cruelly than any Junior High Principal ever meted it. I'm home.

I've honed an utterly superstitious sense of what's safe and what's not. I know for certain that the experts, even those not yet discredited by our Master of Ceremonies In Chief, aren't in total agreement, for their professional opinions must take political externalities into account when they make another pronouncement. My experience so far seems to support my growing notion that the experts have not been nearly ChickenShit enough, and might have insisted upon backing off before we became the world's thriving epicenter of viral transmission. I fancy that even I, a self-acknowledged ChickenShit, could see this truck coming from the earliest days of this. Governors have a plausible excuse, for few of them were elected to perform more than ceremonial duties, and their preparation for the position often involved nothing more intellectually challenging than kissing baby cheeks and lobbyists' butts. They were ChickenShit in a different way, too scared of what Their President might say should they use their hind legs for anything more than filling a pair of pants. They dress well and sport three hundred dollar haircuts. What's not to trust about whatever they say?

I was always that guy who would not agree to spy on the girl's locker room, so I suppose that I come by my ChickenShit nature honorably. I can fairly easily stay away while many feel compelled to elbow their way to the head of every freshly opening line. I feel passive in the extreme and I cannot seem to muster any courage or valor when facing this insidious enemy. It, too, seems especially engineered to bring out the inner ChickenShit in me. I cannot see from here where this latest bout of ChickenShittishness might end or when I might see my grandkids again. The Muse and I are trying to supervise a remodeling effort at our other home more than a thousand miles away, and The Muse yesterday proposed that we might just go and be close to that pointy end. I demurred, sensing my defensive ChickenShit protecting me again. I cannot quite imagine any payoff or penalty worth the risk just yet.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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