My neighbors to the east keep having get-togethers. I don’t entirely know what to make of it, but they’re extremely friendly people and I can’t imagine they intend to be aggressive. From the sounds of it, they’re not throwing ragers — just having a couple or a few friends over to their backyard — and there’s definitely enough room there for five or six people to spread out. But it strikes me as inconsiderate, because these neighbors live in a 10-unit building, and the people coming over are undoubtedly touching doorbells and doorknobs and just generally breathing all over shared spaces.
But it’s not my building, so it doesn’t feel like my place to call them out on it. I recognize that what they’re doing could bring harm to someone else, but this is not the Kitty Genovese murder. They’re sharing their outdoor space with people who presumably don’t have any, which is a nice thing to do for friends. Like I said, they’re nice. And since I don’t think they’re putting me at any significant additional risk of getting the ‘rona, it ultimately feels like none of my business.
I understand if you feel otherwise, but when you live in an environment as densely populated as this one, you kind of have to default to living and letting live. There are exceptions, of course, but this one’s not getting me there. I’m not going to say anything to these people now because I don’t want them acknowledging if I do some dumb, dangerous shit in my backyard later. I have a charcoal barbecue, so I do play with fire.
But yesterday while I was out for a walk, these same neighbors were sitting on their front stoop chatting with a few of their friends, including one unmasked man blocking the sidewalk I needed to use to get home. And though I had never seen him before, I knew just from looking at the dude that it had to be Sports Hot Take Guy, a loud and frequent guest in the neighbors’ backyard whom I can’t help but overhear drooling out stale WFAN talking points, trite and bro-ey political observations, and the occasional personal story intended to be funny that is actually, when you think about it, pretty sad.
Sure enough, as I waved hello to my neighbors and tangoed around the guy who was obviously Sports Hot Take Guy, I heard his unmistakable voice in the midst of a rant about how some people’s belligerently pro-mask behavior was responsible for “all the fistfights” that are apparently now happening in my neighborhood, sight unseen.
I scurried past and didn’t say anything, but when I think about the line between what my neighbors do by having guests over and what type of behavior actually merits interference, I’m going to say that planting yourself in the middle of a narrow sidewalk with no mask on while complaining about “the mask police” — his words — is probably a bridge too far right now. It’s an aggressive move. Even if he absolutely does not believe he risks getting himself or anyone else sick by standing there, he clearly knows that many people at this particular juncture of history are bothered by bare-faced bros posturing on the sidewalk, and he’s doing it anyway. Now you’re starting some shit.
I know there’s plenty of anti-scientific, anti-mask, anti-distancing sentiment out there in general, so I assume other people are doing stuff like this elsewhere. And the best solution I can come up with is that we all just agree that’s it’s acceptable and encouraged to vigorously mock these people to their faces.
Right? I’m not about to, like, fight this guy if I see him at it again, in large part because I’m not trying to touch strangers right now. But I might stop to let him know that his actions imply that I should ignore the recommendations of the C.D.C. and World Health Organizations to abide those of a person idiotic enough to think Odell Beckham Jr. was a locker-room cancer who hurt the Giants. And I might throw in that somehow his face is even dumber than his appreciation for George Steinbrenner, and ask if he entered epidemiology after he got rejected for an internship at Barstool Sports. On and on like that.
Maybe he’d punch me, and so — what with the no-touching thing — maybe it’s a bad idea. But I’m going to fantasize about it, at least. To hell with Sports Hot Take Guy.