Episode 42: The Mask Flinger

In the forty-second episode of The Latest, we explore whether Karen getting thrown out of a Red Lobster for not wearing a mask as coronavirus cases continue to rise counts returning to normal. Desirée Dillon, a descendant of Francis Scott Key and professional singer, joins the program for this week’s O.J. Simpson Twitter Update.

The Latest with Greg Ott
The Latest with Greg Ott
Episode 42: The Mask Flinger


Those voices are discussing the novel coronavirus, the March sensation that Americans have already moved on from faster than Tiger King.

With the death toll passing 120,000 in the United States, citizens have grown sick and tired of getting sick and tired, pining for the simpler times of managing a constitutional crisis rather than a public health crisis. 

As South Korea has begun to open its baseball stadiums and Germany has begun to open its tourism industry, the United States has begun to open its lungs to thousands upon thousands of new infections.

The concept of our “Phase Two” reopening has signaled that instead of microwaving TGI Fridays frozen potato skins from the confines of your self-quarantined home, it’s time to return to the actual TGI Fridays in your strip mall parking lot, where an essential employee will microwave those frozen potato skins at your behest. 

Depending on your state, you may be allowed to return to tattoo parlors, tanning salons, and TJ Maxx dressing rooms — so even if you catch the virus, at least you’ll die doing what you love: looking bad. 

Like a college theater student dropping his lines during the first act of A Midsummer NIght’s Dream, things are likely to keep getting worse and we’ve still got a long way to go. 

Over the weekend, states like Florida, Nevada, and South Carolina hit record-breaking infection rates, earning rave reviews on TripAdvisor as The Best Vacation Spots to Get the Most Use Out of Your Ventilator.  

In Texas, 12 re-opened bars have lost their alcohol permits for violating health protocols, such as ignoring social distancing, exceeding capacity limits, and serving Blue Moon Mango Wheat on tap. 

And since Mr. Trump’s Oklahoma campaign event over the weekend, which didn’t require masks, social distancing, or attendance, apparently, at least eight of the president’s staff members have contracted the virus — the first time anything positive has emerged from one of his rallies. 

Earlier today, the head of the World Health Organization claimed that the greatest threat we face is not the virus itself, it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership

And indeed, from the USA hijacking supplies meant for other countries to the president himself declaring that he ordered testing to be slowed down to make it seem like we have fewer cases, the world’s most indispensable nation has dispensed with the notion that it’s indispensable. 

One astonished expert in New Zealand, which has only had three new cases in three weeks, has said that it feels like the U.S. has given up, which rings true — why bother to continue telling its people to stay at home when the country itself has already put on its sweatpants and ordered Seamless?

Experts have disputed the notion that we’re entering a second wave of the coronavirus and are instead still dealing with the effects of the first — after all, how can we be expected to watch another Ghostbusters sequel when we haven’t finished suffering through the reboot?

Rather than going through waves of new virus infections, it’s said that COVID-19 will simply continue to spread across the USA like a forest fire. But I doubt we’ll be seeing Smoky the Bear wearing a face mask — for one thing, the guy can’t even be bothered to put on a shirt. 

The nation’s newfound doctrine of America First has translated into Americans first, which is proving to be as constructive as writing “first” as the first comment on a YouTube video.

The notion of wearing a mask to keep your neighbors from getting sick has morphed into a declaration of individual liberty, like that Punisher decal on the back of your F150 that’s lowering its resale value.

The very notion that the government is looking out for our best interests is seen as an affront to our personal freedom, and glorious patriots shouldn’t have to put up with masks, seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, or smoking bans. You’re damned if you do, dead if you don’t. 

Back in March, I wondered what things were going to be like after people got sick of playing Heads Up over Houseparty during their extended snow day. 

And when you see the pictures of crowded beaches between the east and west coasts, it’s clear that our answer has been to pretend that we’ve gone back to normal even though we’ve committed to digging holes and sticking our heads in the sand.

Make no mistake: I’m not against things reopening or trying to find ways of getting back to normal, but there’s nothing normal about live-streamed Karens demanding to enter a Red Lobster without a mask. I mean, it’s normal for us; it’s just not normal in general. 

As governors in virus-stricken states like Florida and Texas begin coming around to the reality that the virus still needs to be taken seriously, I hope that people who desperately need that $12 haircut to look better on Zoom sales calls will also try to take this pandemic seriously again.

Otherwise, we’ll carry on as the Home of the Free to Land in the Grave.