It's been over two years, but it seems only yesterday: Emergence of the vaccines that were going to wipe out COVID and its terrors.
Never figuring that its mutants would still have us on the hot seat today, simmering and strategizing.
Never wotting that this piece, about restive oldsters queuing for shots, which I sketched back then and discarded as outdated, might be relevant again.
Bring on the shot! Or you'll see what we've got!
So: There are Covid vaccines coming down the pike, eh? And the question, beyond who will reap the profits and who will be able to afford them, is: Who will get first shot, eh?
And so-called seniors are near the top of the list, because of vulnerability and need and ....but...
Well, let me give you a taste of what's in store. Come with me to my neighbourhood pharmacy,
It is 9 a.m., and the elders are edgy.
The guy is large, he is bald, he is wrinkly, he is masked, he is shudderingly furious...so very, that his mask is vibrating.
Behind their Plexiglas panels, which seem a fragile barrier against his reverberating rage, the pharmacy staff tries not to cower as he roars at the request for his name.
"Again you are asking me my name. Again I am giving you. How to spell, you ask? Again? Is G. E. N. G. H. I. S. GENGHIS. But you still have not got for me it, the shot!"
"Sir, we will have more tomorrow...Sir. Sir! There is someone in there..."
Raising one massive arm, Genghis has shoved open an unmarked white door. A woman with a large syringe poised above another woman's arm goes still with fear.
""So she is getting and I am not! Tomorrow you tell me, sure. Thursday you also tell me. Friday you also tell me..."
Seniors, clamouring and clattering for COVID shots...
Generally, a non-threatening, virtually non-visible group, geriatrics are.
But today, in this packed pharmacy, the assisted-living crowd is getting rowdy.
I got up early. Checked the website, filled out the application. Phoned the instant they opened, 9a.m. to learn they yes, had The Senior Dose.
Hustled into my clothes. Arriving barely minutes later, found almost a dozen already ahead of me. A shifting bellicose bevy of the white-haired and no-haired, with and without walkers and canes and wheelchairs.
Unaccountably, once again, no one, expresses the faintest incredulity that I belong in this group.
To the 30-something staff, of course, everyone past their age group looks over the hill. We ourselves were the same, in those happy long-gone years of yore. I remember reading a Nancy Drew mystery, around age 11, and finding the description of "a sweet little old lady of 40" to be perfectly apt.
Then there was that encounter in an NYC Apple store, me barely past pension age, buying a tech dingus for a friend's 93-year-old mother (vain quest of the techno generation, to ease a matriarch into I-Padding).
"What colour do you like?" asked the maybe 20-year-old clerk, excuse me, Apple Expert.
"Something really bright, that a 93-year-old can see easily," I chirped.
"You are 93?" he asked, with politely raised eyebrows.
"Oh yes, I just look really good for my age," I quipped, fetchingly, as I thought.
The guy nodded brightly. "You do look really good for 93," he said, insincerely.
But that's another story...
Now, here I was, in a simmering stew of fulminating fellow seniors. Genghis not the only one apparently readying to blow a fuse...
The last time I saw anything so menacing was in a tow shop, where staff were barricaded against enraged reclaimants of ticketed towed vehicles.
The staff were all big guys. But alive to the dangers, as I recorded in my newspaper column of the day:
Dealing directly with the attitude problems, behind a double set of locked steel doors at Byers' York St. car pound, are Brian Whelan and Bill Deryk. The doors are kept locked because of the number of towed-car owners who show up M.I. - towing code for "mentally incompetent," which can mean anything from raging verbal hysteria to attempted physical aggression.
"You see," philosophizes Whelan, who is Dr. Joyce Brothers to towmaster Crane Byers' Clint Eastwood - "you see, when you interfere with a fella's car, you interfere with his actual, personal self. That's why he - or she - goes M.I. So I try to deal with their emotions.
" 'Just think about it,' I'll say to them. "This is a car. Just a pile of steel and nuts and bolts. Not your life!! . . . Remember that lady who went hysterical because we'd hooked her new Trans Am?" Brian asks Bill. "Remember how I finally calmed her down?"
"But remember when she drove out," Bill reminds him.
"Well yeah. She gave me the finger," Brian admits. "But at least for a minute there, she saw what I was talking about. And, remember that fella who wrote that note."
"DEAR MR. BUYER," goes the crabbed handwriting, "please forgive me for getting so angry with you the day my car was towed. I am a believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but 'LOVING YOUR BROTHER' is not always easy. Jesus the Son of God loves you, and I am praying for you. Although that Day was a financial loss, Thank God it was a glorious gain for God's Kingdom."
Butting his cigarette, Crane Byers makes a confession. "I never had a car of mine towed away," he says. "But if I ever did - I'm pretty sure I'd go M.I."
But this is a pharmacy. We are peaceable little old pensioners, reasonably expecting the Senior Shot we've been promised.
We're waiting. For the time being, we remain mentally competent.
But even in palsied hands, a cane can be a weapon to reckon with.
A well-shoved walker can deliver meaningful trauma to the lower body.
And as for a motorized scooter, gunned by a seething senior...
Let's just say, we won't look all that little and old to you.
And this time, despite your best efforts to decimate nursing homes, there are still enough of us to raise some serious Caine...
Bring on the shot!
Or you'll see what we've got!
Raise up yer fist!
We're old and we're pissed!