A Virus by Any Other Name

In the following scene from A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel about a novel disease that was first published in 2009, investigative reporter Greg and his editor Olaf are talking about an article on the pandemic Greg is hoping to write.

—-

“How’s the research coming, Greg?” Olaf asked, a shade too heartily.

“I feel as if I’m drowning in paper.”

“So I see,” Olaf said, laying a hand on the stack of articles. “Mind if I look?”

“Help yourself. They belong to the newspaper.”

Olaf settled himself in his customary chair with a handful of the papers. A minute later, he raised his head.

“How do these guys get anything printed? If my reporters turned in work as incomprehensible as this, they’d be out of here so fast they’d think they were flying.” He glanced at the papers and shook his head. “Even the titles are incomprehensible. ‘Imitating Organic Morphology in Micro-fabrication.’ I don’t even know what that means.”

“Me neither,” Greg said, thinking if he had to wade through this sort of stuff to learn about the red death, the earth would fall into the sun long before he read half of it.

Olaf tossed the sheaf of papers back onto Greg’s desk. “Better you than me.”

“What do these guys do?” Greg asked. “Take a course in obfuscation?”

“Probably. Convoluted writing and obscure terms are a way of intimidating the uninitiated, keeping the profession closed to non-scientists, and adding to the scientific mystique. Just think, if diseases had names like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, doctors wouldn’t make anywhere near the amount of money they do now.”

Greg laughed. “That’s an idea. They do it for hurricanes, why not everything else?” He mimed seizing the phone and dialing. “Mr. Olaf? I can’t come in today. I’ve got the Bob.” He hung up his imaginary receiver and looked inquiringly at his boss.

Olaf nodded. “Works for me.”

—–

And it works for me.

By the time this new virus was well-publicized, I was already sick of the fear mongering. For example, one of the first studies of the possible effects of this pandemic claimed that 80% of the world’s population would die. It was that first insane projection from which all the other insanity came.

The truth is, most people did not get infected, and of those infected, most did not get sick, and of those who got sick, most did not die.

Again, as with my post yesterday, I am not trying to denigrate anyone’s experience. For those who suffered deaths in the family, severe illness, isolation from family, or financial hardships, it was a terrible thing. But for most of us, the worst was the fear. It was reprehensible the way people who should have known better — the political hacks representing us, the media, the idiotic folks who put sick people into nursing homes where so many elderly lived — exaggerated the truth and caused immense (and in many cases, unnecessary) fear. There is a good chance we would not have been that much worse off if we had all just gone about our business, but too much jockeying for position was being done by people in power or people who wanted power, and truthfully, I think their tactics were so successful that they ended up buying into their own propaganda of fear.

And the manipulation is still going on. A vaccine of sorts is available for those want it, but the next move is to make the vaccine mandatory to “protect the vaccinated.” Huh? I thought the purpose of the vaccination itself was to protect the vaccinated. And if the vaccine isn’t a real vaccine, one that does protect the recipient, when are they going to get a real vaccine so that those who want to be fully protected can be? As with everything else that has gone on the past two years, the truth is hard to come by. What we are told might be the true truth, a semblance of the truth, or a wholly manufactured truth.

To keep from validating any of the shenanigans that is going on surrounding this virus, I have refused — and continue to refuse — to use any of the official names the parasite is given. Hence, “The Bob.” My own private rebellion.

I mean no insult to any Bob living or dead, of course. I named the disease many years ago back when I didn’t know any Bobs, and reusing the name for this virus seemed a good way to keep myself from succumbing to the fear and intimidation that the media and our so-called leaders apparently want us to feel.

The Bob

In the following scene from A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel about a novel disease, investigative reporter Greg and his editor Olaf are talking about an article on the pandemic Greg is hoping to write.

—-

“How’s the research coming, Greg?” Olaf asked, a shade too heartily.

“I feel as if I’m drowning in paper.”

“So I see,” Olaf said, laying a hand on the stack of articles. “Mind if I look?”

“Help yourself. They belong to the newspaper.”

Olaf settled himself in his customary chair with a handful of the papers. A minute later, he raised his head.

“How do these guys get anything printed? If my reporters turned in work as incomprehensible as this, they’d be out of here so fast they’d think they were flying.” He glanced at the papers and shook his head. “Even the titles are incomprehensible. ‘Imitating Organic Morphology in Micro-fabrication.’ I don’t even know what that means.”

“Me neither,” Greg said, thinking if he had to wade through this sort of stuff to learn about the red death, the earth would fall into the sun long before he read half of it.

Olaf tossed the sheaf of papers back onto Greg’s desk. “Better you than me.”

“What do these guys do?” Greg asked. “Take a course in obfuscation?”

“Probably. Convoluted writing and obscure terms are a way of intimidating the uninitiated, keeping the profession closed to non-scientists, and adding to the scientific mystique. Just think, if diseases had names like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, doctors wouldn’t make anywhere near the amount of money they do now.”

Greg laughed. “That’s an idea. They do it for hurricanes, why not everything else?” He mimed seizing the phone and dialing. “Mr. Olaf? I can’t come in today. I’ve got the Bob.” He hung up his imaginary receiver and looked inquiringly at his boss.

Olaf nodded. “Works for me.”

—–

And it works for me. From now on, I’m going to call this current novel virus “The Bob.” No insult meant to any Bob living or dead, but I need a different name to call this disease because I am already sick of seeing its name wherever I go on the internet and hearing it out in public. And anyway, I named the disease many years ago back when I didn’t know any Bobs.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.