On the way into the drugstore, I ejected the stump of a cigar from my mouth and put it out with the heel of my shoe. These days, smoking in a store is as bad as smoking in a church, which was almost the only place you couldn't smoke when I was a kid. If you don't remember a woman in the market, squeezing a tomato with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, then you don't remember America.
I like drugstores. They're usually very clean and brightly lit, and, while they don't sell cigars anymore, you can get frozen pizza, some flip-flops, the kind of cheap makeup my wife won't wear and a phone charger.
I didn't need any of that stuff, though I did pick up a couple bags of half-price Christmas candy on my way back to the actual, by God, pharmacy part of the pharmacy.
I was there to get vaccinations, a pair of vaccinations, a double shot of danger.
The flu shot I was getting because I don't like the flu, and because the years when I forget to take the shot, I get the flu two or three times because I never wash my hands and because I hang out in cheap saloons where people sit too close together at the bar and someone is always leaning into my face to say, "That's just what the media WANTS you to believe."
I was getting the shot for shingles, too, principally because I nursed my late mother through the shingles when she was in her late 70s. It hurt so much she used to cry in her sleep.
Even though I'd made an appointment, I had to stand in line because everything in America requires standing in line except buying illegal drugs. A responsible meth dealer will come to your house. He'll even meet you in the parking lot of your warehouse job unless you work for Amazon. Amazon won't let the meth dealer on the property because they're afraid he might be also be a union organizer.
I come from the "vaccination generation." When my grade school sent home a permission slip asking if my folks would let me be vaccinated, my father didn't even read the thing. He looked at it enough to figure out where he was supposed to sign, then he'd write his name, and then he'd say, "Don't lose it on the way to school."
"Listen to your father," my mother would say. "You know how you are. You lose everything."
My parents signed so eagerly because they remembered when polio killed and crippled kids.
Out there in Ohio, where the abandoned steel mills rust in the winter snows, parents got so "vaccination hesitant" that they have a measles epidemic. This is not fair. Who the hell knew that if you don't vaccinate your kids, they get a disease?
I'd mention COVID here, but as we all know, COVID is over. Oh, yeah, people are still dying, but the American people have decided there is no more COVID, so there is no more COVID. The American people can be lied to, fired, laid-off just before Christmas, or stripped of our pensions, but we cannot be told we are wrong. If you think we're "vaccination hesitant," you need to know that we are far more than hesitant when told we are wrong. Americans know you're right until you say you're wrong, so you should never say you're wrong because then you'll be right all the time, forever.
I got both shots. When I got out to my car, I lit the emergency cigar I keep in my glove compartment. It was a little stale, but I decided to pretend it was fresh. It didn't taste fresh, so I pitched it out the window. You can't lie to yourself about some things.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a collection of his best columns, is called "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, and iBooks.