If everyone is wearing surgical masks, what's Michael Jackson going to do?
It's an important question for Neverland fans, but about as useless and untimely in the swine flu panic of '09 as the debates about closing the border door with Mexico after the virus has already galloped through.
The real question pops up in the Chronicle's own practical health & safety suggestions about the future possible might-happen HORRIFIC pandemic that's keeping cable TV more caffeinated than Mr. Obama's first 100 days. (Even CNN is not so tasteless as to run a corner screen coundown clock on the rising number of swine flu cases):
"If possible," says the Chronicle internal email, "practice social distancing (6 feet)..." Sounds reasonable, and particularly handy for anti-social journalists. But will that 6 feet turn into into a mile wide when it comes to contact with the 1.4 million Latinos -- specifically hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens or Mexican-Americans, who make up a chunk of the half million in the service industries -- who live in the Bay Area?
I've heard a few stories already about Marin households canceling appointments with their gardeners/handymen/contractors/nannies/painters/etc. With full apologies, of course, and assurances that naturally! it has nothing whatsoever to do with country of origin and the fact that the structural cultural mechanics who keep some local counties like Marin going are often from Mexico.
At a minimum, there could be some awkwardness. Say your toilet explodes and you call Roto-Rooter. A guy comes to your door and he has an accent. Do you ask where he's from and where he's been lately? Send him to your doctor? If you're having conflicted feelings about that crisis of conscience call your shrink, but make it a phone session. After all, why would you necessarily be more concerned about the plumber than if you run into someone WASPy on the golf course who looks tan, rested, and smells faintly of tequila from a recent vacation? (Was that a sniffle or just a snooty snort?)
The 2004 film, "A Day Without a Mexican", makes the point better than I could that some sumptuous local lifestyles would be left in the untended weeds if it weren't for Mexican workers. But as we saw from about 50 old "Twilight Zone" episodes, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and other frightened mob psychology movies, even staunch political correctness gets tossed out the window when you're facing scary unknowns like an invisible infection that gets passed through the air.
Seems unseemly in an Obama-era world, but let's see how this unfolds. Ragged hedges are just the least of it.
Causes Phil Bronstein Supports
Good Ones; anything involving the possibility of redemption.