Wednesday, October 28, 2020

No Hugs Without Masks

I happened upon a lovely moment the other day. At least, it started out lovely before becoming, in modern parlance, teachable.

Whilst walking my dogs, I was greeted by a lovely family up the street. Their daughter, about 5, was playing with another girl around the same age on their front lawn.

The family is well known to me and their children love my dogs, so they came running to say hello. The little girl I did not know hung back somewhat. Her mother lingered by the front steps of the house and we were warmly introduced.

I do not recall the mother’s name but, since I am fairly certain it was not “Sally,” let’s call her Sally.

After the neighbors’ children had said hi to the pooches, they went back to their games and we continued on our way.

As you may know, some dogs are filled with energy and blessed with speed, such that they go zipping about faster than sound. Mine are the other kind. Every blade of grass contains eternal mysteries worthy of sniffing. Every. Single. One.

Consequently, though we had made our departure in conversational terms, we had not traveled more than a few feet when the two little girls were told by their mothers that it was time to say goodbye. The two moppets ran toward one another, arms wide.

“No hugs without masks!” Sally exclaimed, stopping the children in their tracks and crashing their smiles. In an attempt to ameliorate her harsh tone, Sally then cooed, “I know, I know, but we can’t have hugs if we’re not wearing our masks.”

Before analyzing the substance of Sally’s pronouncement, let us please consider the “we” in there. It’s always “we” with such people. We’re all in this together. We’re all on the same team. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

The implication is that there is only one acceptable view or course of action, we all concur, and you’re a damnable splitter if you disagree.

At any given time, but especially as the march of Covid-1984 continues apace, it is uncomfortably true that we are not all on the same side. To take this example, if you believe 5-year-olds should not hug unless they are wearing surgical masks, in the battle over where our culture is heading, you need to lose.

This may sound ominous to those on the other side because, in saying such a thing, they assume I mean what they would mean. They would mean silencing you in the public square, endangering your livelihood, perhaps publishing your address and surrounding your house, maybe even destroying your property or harming your person.

I would never dream of doing any of those things. Indeed, if anyone tried to do such things to you, regardless of your views, I would try to protect you.

There is nothing remarkable about me in this, or any, regard. That is simply how traditional people who believe in personal responsibility and individual liberty think. And the fact that we think like that is how civilization got built in the first place.

Anyway, back to Sally. Even if you believe every dire pronouncement from St. Fauci Himself, or whatever power-drunk bureaucrat is calling the shots in your home prefecture, there is no rationale for placing such restrictions on children playing together outdoors.

This is not especially noteworthy, since we are well past the point where Covid hysteria has become, like “climate change,” a religion for people who don’t believe in God.

What struck me most was the reaction of the mom who is my neighbour. She is as sweet a person as you could ever hope to meet but – how to put this? – she is a woman of a certain sort.

As examples presented without comment: This summer, she decided to write “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in giant, rainbow letters across our Canadian residential street. She has been seen to wear a shirt praising Elizabeth Warren (“Nevertheless, she persisted…”) for days in a row and, since her personal hygiene is above reproach, this implies she owns more than one. Finally, on hearing that, like her, my wife and I hold US citizenship, she pre-emptively declared, “Obama is still MY president!”

(On this last point, I owe her a debt inasmuch as I did not know Americans were empowered to chose our own, personal presidents. Very well, I choose James Polk.)

My neighbor was as startled and disappointed as the children by Sally’s declaration. Now, along with her Obama-blessing and Warren-whooping, my neighbor’s reaction to Covid culture has been exactly as you’d expect. She is up to date on the latest restrictions and rules, she takes social distance and quarantine extremely seriously, and she is ALL about safety.

But what Sally said seemed a mask too far. Not wanting to be contentious or contradict Sally directly, she used her words and expressed her feelings and even slipped in the incontestable We: “Aww, that makes me so sad. We love our hugs!”

Nevertheless, Sally persisted, and the kids bid a contactless farewell.

I wondered, as my overfed dogs and I made our glacial way up the street, whether I had just witnessed a pivotal moment in my neighbor’s thinking; a seismic shift or great awakening, like the birth of a star.

Almost certainly not. She will continue as she has done, as will I, as will you. But I was heartened to see that, even among those whom I consider to be deeply wrong about all this, there is daylight.

As both a Canadian and a Protestant, I have never been much of a hugger. But in defiance of this madness, with arms outstretched and no mask in sight, I am open for business.

Theo Caldwell just wanted to be left alone. Contact him at