More on the Masked Avengers

A FB friend I wish I knew personally reposted my observations on masks. I thought about responding to the rather shrill responses, but it would be bad taste to insert myself into his discussion, so...

I don't wish to stick my oar into Bob Alpert's discussion, but I did include a proviso for medical necessity, which I meant also to cover, obviously, people in regular contact with decrepit old people like me.

Our son, in his late 30's, was talking to me on FaceTime, from Chapel Hill, when someone across the street--about 30 feet away, tried to shame him for not wearing a mask.

A week or so ago, I was walking around the much-too-quaint town of New Glarus, Wisconsin, where all the locals were maskless on the street and in bars, but it was easy to spot the visitors from Madison: Trim, athletic people in their 50's and 60's, wearing skimpy clothes that did not cover their unattractive limbs, and tee-shirts emblazoned with their personal philosophy of life in three words or less, and, of course masks. The expressions on their face, as they stared contemptuously at the elderly bourgeois gent, unmasked, with jacket and tie and a Stetson Panama hat, were priceless.

I thought about explaining to them that my regimen of cigars and liquor gave me immunity, if not to COVID then at least to the Pharisaical smugness of unlettered academics, but I was afraid that there were enough of them to form a Lynch mob to stone me to death. I can't help thinking of something Jack Kerouac wrote, late in life, about seeing people on the street, putting on airs and acting a part but nowhere to be seen was the old fashioned American, hands in his pocket, whistling, oblivious to what anyone thought of him.

If you want to know why one way of thinking is superior to another, give it what I think of as the Kerouac test. Kerouac's reckless American, if he went to a Christian Church, might pray something like "Have mercy on me, a sinner." I don't have to guess what those Madison academics would say, on the rare occasion they entered their Unitarian conventicle. In that great reactionary film, "Easy Rider," Jack Nicholson says "This used to be a good country," and wonders what happened to it. I wish I didn't know, but I do

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

3 Responses

  1. Jacob Johnson says:

    If only those Madisonians knew that New Glarus is home to the Midwest’s largest urinal. I fear there will be demands to tear it out as a porcelain symbol of white supremacy. Luckily, there’s a good chance they used the women’s room and didn’t find out.

  2. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Where is this fabulous basin? We are heartbroken that the Glarnerstube, with its exquisite roesti and sausages is still closed. We did go to “Puempel’s Old Tavern.” My friends kept oohing and aahing how distinctive it was, and I had to catch myself in mid-sentence, saying, “Nothing very special. This is typical of Wisconsin taverns in my childhood–in the 1950’s. “Ain’t it funny how time slips away!”

  3. Jacob Johnson says:

    It is in the Glarnerstube actually. (The largest one is somewhere in New York City apparently.) Reportedly, a Swiss exchange student my friends ran into about ten years ago, was completely transfixed by the town itself when they took him there. “I deed not know you had zis in America!”