After spending the month of December running away from Christmas music, I spent January dodging the “jab.” Everybody — from England’s first senior to the first black vice-president of the United States, from the oldest person to the youngest to Dr. Fauci himself — was shown on TV getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
I physically flinch every time I see somebody get inoculated. I hate needles. No, I don’t mean that I dislike them strongly. I mean I hate needles more than Angelina Jolie hates Brad Pitt’s guts. I hate needles more than Vladimir Putin hates Alexi Navalny, the way truth hates Donald Trump. I hate needles the way a fire hydrant hates dogs.
Growing up in Dain City and attending S.S. #4 we had to get inoculated for a whole bunch of dreaded diseases from polio and diphtheria to measles, mumps and whooping cough. The school board doctor was an old man named Workman. He was rough and damn near blind with alcohol on his breath. I begged to stay home the day of the polio vaccination but a friend, Ronnie Reihheld, who lived two doors down, had already died from the killer virus which he contracted while swimming at the Cross Street Pool in nearby Welland. Yeah, except for the existential threat of getting my seven-year-old ass tanned, I may have been the world’s first anti-vaxxer.
So Dr. Workman takes a stab at my right shoulder and breaks the needle in half. At the sight of blood and the metal shaft sticking out of my arm I should have passed out. Instead, I took off running… down the hall, out the side door and across the ball field headed for home. Somehow Mr. Gregory and an older kid who was a lot faster than I was, cornered me behind the backstop.
And instead of doing the humane thing — having someone back a car over me in the parking lot — they marched back to the front of the line where Workman, who would have made a fine large-animal veterinarian, got to remove the evidence of his first malpractice and then take a ‘mulligan’.
Did I mention I really hate needles? How much? Even as a kid I never believed in Santa Claus because Christmas trees came with needles!
How much? Even when I worked on Paul Pietz’s farm, I wouldn’t go near the haystack in case — against all odds — I found a needle in there!
How much? Of all the times I’ve travelled through Morocco I didn’t dare take a camel ride because with my luck I figured mine would be the camel that tried to squeeze through the eye of the needle just to prove that was easier than a rich man entering the Kingdom of God which also required an inoculation before you were allowed in!
How much? If my doctor swore on the copy of his Hippocratic Oath that every ache and pain in my body would disappear for the rest of my life with acupuncture, instead, I would buy 100 capsules of Tylenol Extra Strength and take them all without water or even opening the bottle!
How much? I was watching last Sunday’s Super Bowl and when TV announcer Jim Nantz said: “Wow! Great Pass. Did you see Brady thread the needle?” I swallowed a chicken wing! Okay, okay, enough already. I didn’t do any of that stuff but, like about 20 percent of Canadians, I too suffer from tryanophobia, the fear of a Dr. Workman-like experience.
Honestly, rather than have somebody jab a needle in my arm, I would rather drop trowel, bend over in a field and have a qualified Yahua varmint hunter hit me with a blow dart from fifty feet away.
However, the following three things did in fact happen during my unsettling month of “Jabuary.”
A friend sent me a cartoon of a muscle-bound cage fighter covered in tattoos and screaming “I hate needles!” at a nurse who’s trying not to laugh.
No longer able to stomach all the jabbing on the news I switched to Netflix to watch The Siege of Jadotville, a terrific and true film about how a small band of Irish peacekeepers survive repeated attacks by thousands of rebels when they get caught in the middle of the 1961 civil war in the Congo. The movie opens with each and every Irish soldier dropping his pants and getting a shot in the bum for smallpox. That’s when I unplugged the TV and went to bed with a good book… Ken Follett’s bestseller Eye Of The Needle.
British Tory MP Johnny Mercer of Plymouth who also suffers from tryanophobia manned up and got his vaccine shot. In an “if I can do it anybody can” moment, Mercer posted the photo of him being inoculated with the caption: “A little prick getting a little prick.” (MC Hammer just whispered in my ear: “Can’t touch this.”)
As much as I’m tempted to wait several years until they bring a COVID-19 vaccine out in nasal spray form or a tasty little chewable pill — I won’t. I will take the jab. I will do the right thing and I will be brave.
All I need is two retired Sumo wrestlers, a straight jacket that ties up in the back, a mickey of Spanish brandy and a bullet to bite down on. Also a licensed anesthetist should be present at all times.
For a comment or a copy of
The True Story Of Wainfleet