The end of innocence? Hardly

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This week, give or take, the last pre-COVID babies will be born. Their parents received the news that should have been joyous and instead said, “Oh no, not now.”

Next week, give or take, a new breed arrives. Their parents said, “Oh this is fine, we’ll manage.” Or, “Our child will make the world a better place.” Or, “I’m horny, let’s fuck, and for the last time I’m not wearing a goddamn rubber.”

Or maybe they said nothing at all. Maybe mother and father were overwhelmed, their minds racing from one thought to another: do we have enough toilet paper? did I sanitize my hands? is Pizza Delicious open for takeout or not? Paralyzed by fear, anxiety, and, in many cases, depression, sex was a coping mechanism, a way of tuning out for a few minutes. Or hours, for those who really keep up with their Pilates.

I’m not interested in condemning parents from either group. We do a lot of moralizing these days, but can we please not get all judgy about people who choose to get pregnant or to have a child in the middle of a pandemic? There are bigger fish to fry, folks. Aquariums full of them. (Vegan side note: emptying the aquariums is a fish worth frying.)

No, what interests me is that within my lifetime—sooner than I think—I’ll be speaking to someone, and they’ll say, “COVID? That was before my time.”

It seems so impossible, the same way it did on September 11th, impossible to believe that living memory will run out, that this experience won’t be duct-taped and soldered to our DNA, passed down to generation upon generation upon generation, through an Old Testament’s worth of “begats”. But no, everyone forgets: friends, family, elephants, the owner of the corner store who caught you shoplifting comic books in grade school. Even the internet.

I look forward to forgetting it, too.

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