Rioting While Vaxxed: The Unbeatable High 

The Milwaukee Polka Riot is one wehek away! The world is in a weird place but I’ve been in a weird place for years so it’s whatever. When I got my first shot back in April I was one in one of the last appointment blocks that day. I figured I’d want to make sure I was on time and awake and aware and for me that is usually afternoons. Filling out the brief form was quick enough. I took snap shots of it for my personal records. I turned in the clipboard and was directed to the portion of the Wisconsin Center that was functioning as the vaccination station.

I followed the arrows on the floor and at nearly every possible turning was greeted and assured by volunteers that I was headed on the correct path. Cubicles were set up with black curtains for privacy and red and green double sided signs indicated if a cubicle was available or not. I followed the instruction of the volunteers to a little cubicle where a woman in scrubs and a mask with slightly curly light brown hair held in a loose pony tail greeted me. I could have been mistaken as I sit here thinking about it. She might have referred to herself as Nurse Molly but for some reason I heard Miss Molly. She was tired, I could hear it in her voice and while there was nothing unsteady about her, her movements were very methodical. She was taking her time perhaps to allow the clock to expire on her shift or perhaps to help me come up with any last minute questions.

I had nothing. I’m a bit of a sucker for nurses, women doctors, and basically any woman that is definitely smarter than me and seemingly has her shit together. Nearly 20 years ago I developed a crush on my physical therapist while rehabbing my back but in hindsight my youth and inexperience (and frankly loneliness) probably muddied the waters of simple gratitude. I can say I wasn’t feeling any weird sexy feelings for “Miss Molly” but I was very grateful to this exhausted person about to administer my first dose of Pfizer.

Once I made my way out of the tent city I wandered over to the waiting area. They wrote down the time you had to wait on a little card and if you didn’t experience any immediate allergic reactions to the shot you could go get scheduled for the 2nd dose. I wandered up to the table and the man sitting on the other side struck up some small talk.

“So where are you an educator?” I had scheduled to the get my shot as soon as the window was open for service industry employees.

“Oh, I’m not an educator. I’m the opposite of that.” I replied. The man looked confused and furrowed his brow a bit before I followed up. “I’m a bartender!” His expression changed and he laughed. I imagine the tedium of sitting there all day could wear a person down but he seemed in good spirits whether because of my joke or his own personality.

“Where are you a bartender?”
“Regano’s Roman Coin on Brady Street.”
“Oh! I know you know Teri?”
“Yes, I do”
“Well tell her Mark from the Health Department says Hi”

And so it went. Everything seemed easy. The 2nd shot went pretty much the same way. That dose was administered to me by a young National Guardsman with the name Garcia on his uniform. I didn’t feel any effects for the first 12 hours. Because I was on Pfizer I only had to wait 3 weeks to get my second shot and I was due to fill in for a coworker getting his 2nd shot the next day. Halfway through that shift I started to feel like I had a hangover. I closed the bar a little early that night in a sort of fog. But it felt no worse for me than a morning following cheap gin.

I posted videos following each shot on the Polka Riot Facebook page I felt compelled to let people know that, while we were not yet sure we would have an event, we were at least taking the steps to keep that possibility alive.

There is a great deal of anxiety surrounding the Delta variant right now and we are hearing about break through infections despite vaccination. The reason I am taking the time to write this out before I go to work is that we are no different from anyone else out there. We worry and hope just the same as anyone that what we are doing will be safe.

There is the one question that I know exists. Why do anything at all?
And while the circumstances are significantly different I asked myself this same question last year while attending one of the many marches. The reason I went out of my house then is that I trusted everyone who was marching to care for my health as much as I cared for theirs. I hope everyone that attends the Milwaukee Polka Riot on August 28th at Great Lakes Distillery cares about one another. I hope we all continue to do so and that we find joy in each other’s presence.