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Superstitions And Frightened Villagers: COVID America Looks More And More Like Feudal Europe

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I knew the young men my parents were talking to were animated when I sat down with a round of beers at a table in Glasgow’s Merchant Square. Friendly and proud of her kids, my mother had told the two financial analysts that her son was a conservative. My dad had wisely disengaged while they interrogated her on all of their opinions and feelings, and now that I returned with the pints, it was my turn to be educated.

“How can you deny the deadly reality of global warming,” one of the guys asked, wheeling on me. “Florida is literally flooded and underwater.”

I blinked a few times. “What?”

“It’s all over the news!” he exclaimed.

The Sunshine State gets hot and swampy; it is indeed largely at sea level, but when I’d left Virginia just a day or two before, it had seemed intact. Could he be talking about the Everglades? A storm, maybe? As I sat there listening and wishing I could just enjoy my beer, I made note to ask mom to refrain from further introductions.

This memory came to mind Saturday afternoon when I walked into a restaurant in Martha’s Vineyard, where we had surprised my brother for his 30th birthday. “Do you have your masks?” the hostess asked sharply.

“Is that a Vineyard thing?”

“Oak Bluffs Board of Health. You need a mask.”

We put them on and walked the 12 feet to our high top, where we sat amid a completely unmasked lunch crowd already many drinks deep. I was surprised by the request at first, because six miles north in Falmouth, there was no mandate (and barely anyone wore one). There was no mandate a few miles to our west, in Woods Hole, although a number of struggling businesses still insisted on demanding adherence to the abandoned rule.

It’s hard to keep up these days: To get to the birthday party, I’d had to travel from D.C. (mask mandates) to Virginia (no mask mandates) to fly to Boston (mandates) and then drive south (none), before taking a boat to the island (mandates).

The

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