I held out my hand, making the universal sign for “hey, toss that thing to me, and I’ll catch it.” The gesture is not only a signal but a reference point, a target made by the intended recipient to the provider or the thrower-of-the-thing.
It was an easy six-foot shot (the “social distance” recommended by the CDC for people to avoid COVID contamination) that required minimal effort and expenditure of energy. In other words, a three-year-old could have made the shot with their eyes closed.
The bottle of Ibuprofen made flight for two one-hundredths of a second (approximately as I did not have time to open and start a stopwatch) and hit the ground with a thud followed by the faintest sound of shaken maracas—a solid two feet short of the mark.
I looked at my empty hand, still outstretched, still ready to receive. The bottle finally came to a rest. What just happened? Was she trying a bounce pass? I’m pretty sure bottles weren’t designed to bounce. Perhaps this move was inspired by a few cricket matches we’ve recently observed? How can someone be so incredibly intelligent and not understand physics at the same time?
“What in the hell,” I asked in bewilderment.
She looked at me as if nothing was wrong or out of the ordinary. As if everything is fine. Dog-coffee-flames-fine. Through her mask, the COVID patient casually stated, “What? I wanted to make sure we observed distancing.”
As I recall, the COVID prevention guidelines stipulate the need for distance, but I don’t remember reading anything about the necessity for ground-based exchanges between people. And even if that had been the case, I would have ignored it because fifteen minutes earlier, I bent over the wrong way and mildly threw out my back.
“I asked for the Ibuprofen because of my back, and you just threw the bottle at my feet–and not even at my feet. Are you trying to kill me?”
“Oh yeah,” her laughter built to the point of coughing, “I forgot.” Her eyes started to tear up from the laughter. “And, stop making me laugh,” she said, still laughing, “it hurts to cough."
And so began our weekend with COVID.