OKIE IN EXILE: Bubba and the COVID controversy

Bobby Neal Winters
Bobby Winters

Last week I got a call from my old friend Bubba back home.  

It had been a while since he’d called me. So long, in fact, that some of you had been asking about him. I’d been worried myself, but I put off calling him. Bubba is a complicated soul. While he often comes off as an unsophisticated country bumpkin, under that rough facade resides the soul of an artist, a brusk, overbearing artist, but an artist nonetheless.  

It’s best when I let him call me.

I smiled when I saw his name on the caller ID.

“Hello, Bubba,” I began. “It’s so good to...,” but I didn’t get a chance to finish.

“Hey there!” He talked over me. “Can you believe how stupid people are?”

There was an easy question, I thought. Yes, yes I can believe how stupid people are. I work with people. While there are some who are brilliant beyond compare, others are plumbing the depths and looking for a longer rope. I was about to answer in the affirmative when he continued.

“Can you believe all of these arguments about masks and vaccinations?”

Here he paused to breathe for some reason. Maybe a junebug had flown into his mouth.

“Yes, it is something, isn’t it.”

“People are fighting about it day and night,” he said. “You can’t scroll for an inch on Facebook without reading posts on it. And nobody’s being nice.”

I was about to agree, but I wasn’t quick enough.

“If you haven’t got the shots, someone will call you an ignorant baboon. If you have got the shots, someone will call you sheeple. Whatever happened to kindness, whatever happened to patience?”

Here I decided to be more forceful and broke in.

“What do you think about the whole thing?” I asked.

“Well, you know,” he said. “COVID has turned up the heat on everything. I personally have lost two friends to COVID that I know of. One of them was a close friend. Both of them would’ve been vaccinated if they could’ve, but they died before the vaccine got to them. On top of that, COVID has put such a strain on the hospitals, that there are people who have died of other things who would’ve otherwise lived. So, even if you aren’t in a high risk group, getting vaccinated can turn down the strain on the hospitals.

“But it is a free country. While there are limits to freedom, this is one thing that people can choose not to do.”

This confused me because it seemed reasonable. It was like I didn’t know Bubba any more.

“So you got the shots?” I asked.

“Well I wasn’t going to,” he said. “But I saw some people in line to get something that was free, so I lined up too and I got vaccinated by accident. Four weeks later, the same thing happened.”

“Goodbye, Bubba,” I said.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube.