After a day spent teaching the noodlehead masses all manner of science and technology, from chemotherapy to pneumatics to security analytics, the rabbi finally rested his derriere on a bench near a pond. (Due to coronavirus, the rabbi first sprayed the bench mightily with Lysol.)
The paparazzi had yet to discover the rabbi’s location—thus, the great teacher miraculously had a rare moment to himself. A family of geese, with five little goslings, approached the tired teacher. He tossed the young fowl some scraps of bread, which he had conjured that morning with a Zojirushi BB-PDC20BA Virtuoso Plus Home Breadmaker.
Exhausted from his day of scientific and engineering prophesying, there by the lily pads, the teacher waited for his disciples to bring unto him an ice coffee with a shot of caramel. Once his supplication was brought unto him—which he did sterilize with a Clorox wipe—he did slake his caffeinated thirst.
Finally, the rabbi’s whereabouts was revealed via social media, and crowds did quickly press in upon the master. The gander honked in a low, guttural manner, and the Goose Family Seven retreated to a grassy island in the middle of the pond.
Those gathered plied the teacher with questions. The rabbi tightened his facemask and requested six feet of safe social distancing from his person. And he encouraged everyone to give their fellow neighbor the same. Then he stood upon the bench and addressed the throng.
One John Wayne asshat with a machine gun, plus a MAGA hat, to boot, strode forward, “Dude, now, I get your whole science thing. Sure, it can take folks to the moon and satellites to Mars. And it might even be able to cure cancer. But what the hell? I just want to go in to Bojangles’ every morning and stuff my face with Southern breakfastly delight. How the hell am I supposed to eat with a mask on, anyway?”
The teacher rolled his eyes, e’er so. “Verily I say unto you, microbiology careth not for the confidence of thine strut. You are like a rooster crowing in a slaughterhouse, with a processor’s hand upon thine neck. Virus scoffs at your machine of a thousand bullets. Gather your fellow, red-hatted friends for an enormous biscuit breakfast. Embrace one another, rubbing gun muzzles. Then come back and report to me.”
The John Wayne asshat immediately departed, gathered all his MAGA friends for an enormous biscuit bonanza breakfast. But the asshat did not return. For he was possessed by the demon virus. It squeezed his lungs, with the same might with which he had squeezed his trigger during target practice. COVID hit a bullseye, and the asshat was no more.
A Republican Senator stepped forward to address the teacher, hoping to trip up his ass. He smiled smugly: “Great One, but what of the economy?”
The teacher took a sip of his ice coffee, then shook his head dolefully. He raised his head, eyes ablaze with righteous fire: “Dollars to donuts—Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’—you have sold your soul, demonic politician.” The rabbi held aloft a $20 bill. “Surely, thou wilt take this piece of paper, this unit of supposed monetary trust, and spend it in order to perpetuate your myth of Mammon—that the acquisition of things is more important than the preservation of human life.”
“Surely!” spake the Senator in reply.
But, being the abject coward he was, the Senator took the 20 bucks from the rabbi and ordered one of his interns to inject it into the capitalist system.
The intern dashed off to the nearest Lowe’s to buy some lumber. There, in the checkout line, refusing to respect the six-foot demarcation signs, the intern acquired the virus from a dumbass plumber who had that very week been in more than a dozen homes and found it as unnecessary to cover his face as well as his proverbial plumber ass crack. The intern subsequently died—though the GOP Senator continued to skip about, free, healthy as a clam. (Folks, that’s just the randomness of virus—it suffers karma not.)
Still, a third person approached the teacher. She spake of a great video diatribe by the name of Plandemic, which demonstrated that the virus was—
The Great Teacher, aflame with righteous indignation, cut off the woman in mid-sentence: “Verily I say unto you: cursed be anyone who engages in conspiracy theories and treats science as if flotsam and jetsam to be tempest tossed to the winds! For science is an established method—a way—of knowing. It cares not for hunches or hearsay. It has brought us penicillin, vehicular airbags—even bourbon. Take your chem trail quackery, and be gone!”
The woman returned home to Ohio. She took her entire homeschooled family to an anti-vax conference in Toledo, and the virus slaughtered them all.
Finally, a young woman approached the rabbi. She was a tween, in the half-light between childhood and adulthood. In her soul crossed all points of light.
“Rabbi,” she said. “My dad and I come here all the time to feed the geese. It’s been fun to watch them grow. Quarantine has been tough for me. Because my dad wants to protect me from the virus, and says we can’t go anywhere. He says taking me into a store is a risk not worthwhile to our family. That sucks. But then I go to my other house, and everyone there thinks the virus is a joke. No one wears masks. They think my dad is an idiot. No one has gotten sick so far. But I know they’re not right, either. Because I know tons of people are dying.”
The rabbi stepped down off the bench and sat cross-legged on the ground. He picked up a stick and scrawled in the dirt.
Finally, he looked up. “The poor you will always have, a great teacher once said. I have spent many years thinking about this. I think he meant: morons will you always have as well. Also, reckless idiots who refuse to pull over for emergency vehicles. Not to mention folks who simply cannot be bothered to follow commonsense guidelines during a pandemic. Plus, cretins who don’t lock up their guns. And clods who vote against their own self-interest. Halfwits who can’t be bothered with science. Dullards who are obsessed with their own physical appearance. Simpletons who surrender their critical thinking to fundamentalism. Blockheads who drive Humvees. And on and on.”
The rabbi looked up from his drawing. He reached out to the young woman’s chin (but did not actually touch it): “What say you?”
The young woman tilted her head, “I don’t know. I really miss my friends. I didn’t think I would ever miss school, but I really do. I just want life to go back to the way it was.”
The great teacher nodded. “Yes. We all do. Little one, and the only way that can happen is if we all take care to social distance, to wear masks, and to ride it out hard for a few months, as other nations have done. But which we refuse to do. Because, as I said, the poor, the idiots, the narcissists, the ignorant, ever shall we have.”
The girl processed these words. “Sometimes you talk a bit like Yoda. It’s kind of cute. I get what you’re saying. I’m just a 12-year-old girl. There are so many idiot adults. Not much I can do. Would you mind walking away, so the geese come back? I actually came here to feed them.”
Verily, the rabbi did walk away. And the crowds did follow. And the geese returned to shore. And the girl did toss some Cheerios unto them.
And so it goes.
This parable is featured in Arik Bjorn’s latest book about life during the COVID epidemic, Show & Tell at World’s End.