In an exciting, literal last-seconds win, the Vikings yank victory from the seeming jaws of defeat.
The game was fun. Our nearest rivals, the Green Bay Packers, visited for their first showdown of the season. The Packers are doing swell this season, just as good as the Vikings are doing bad. I mean, statistically, the Vikings win brings them to 5-5, which doesn't sound too bad. Second place behind the Packers, and not as dismal as the win-less Lions (although they do have a tie...). But the Vikings have taken all 5 losses after leading, and all within a touchdown (and extra point), and many in overtime. Disappointing, usually. So, a little exciting that they won in such a high-energy arena.
We were there. The arena was packed. Still, very few masks. I think I saw one other fan occasionally wear his mask. Unlike the last game I went to (the wife's been to all of the home games, but has taken friends to others), this time there were "friendly" taunts about the mask. From a "seat pal," who has also had the same seats since the stadium opened, some "you're the only ones" and "if you're going to take it off to drink or whistle, just keep off" kinds of jeers. No real "you're dumb for thinking that matters" kinds of comments.
And, again, while the "CDC recommends masks no matter your vaccination status" alerts are on signs into and throughout the stadium, occasionally flashed on the giant screens around, and announced over the PA. I'm not jeering the other way, either, really. Just noting that so few people are wearing masks, even when no social distancing is possible, and we're still being encouraged to do so. The stadium was even giving them away at stands throughout the concourse, in case you'd forgotten yours. This is an extra inch, not an extra mile.
And we're not fearful of contracting the virus, even knowing we still could. We're vaccinated, and boosted. We still work from home, and seldom dine out or shop or go anywhere crowds are anymore. We mask when we do. The kids have their first round, and wear masks all day at school, and do careful distancing and extra cleaning. They don't get to go shopping, and are only with us for about half of the dining experiences (also because their manners are way down...).
But, we also realize the vaccine isn't a magic cure and total immunity or protection from ever getting the virus, or carrying it. Especially with variants. The idea is the body can now fight it off when it shows up, right? So now if we do encounter it, we'll have a potentially less severe illness while we fight it off, as we've trained our bodies to do with the vaccine. It's not an invisible armor or impenetrable shield, it's a "wanted poster" in our body's post office.
After the game we chatted with our seat partners, who we haven't seen since the end of the 2019 season. No one went for the 2020 season, and they haven't been to a 2021 season game because he's been in the hospital with pneumonia. But, he says, still probably not the coronavirus.
"Surely they tested you in the hospital," we wondered.
"Yeah, maybe, I don't know," he shrugged. Maybe they mentioned it early, when he was more out of it; and then it just didn't come up again.
We chatted more. She's not vaccinated by choice, because she had COVID in January, so she's immune, right? He doesn't think he's vaccinated, but was in the hospital for a while, so who knows what they did to him.
So it isn't just random strangers passing by in the hallway who could exhale just before we walk by that are our risk vectors. It's our kind, smart, well-meaning friends who shrug it off because the internet posts gave them doubt. They aren't vaccinated, one certainly has had, the other probably has (very recently) and possibly still does. And we sat sharing an arm rest, they unmasked, passing by at hug distance to run for snacks or the loo, and slapping hands at every exciting play, as you do at a game.
We mask. We isolate. We reduce our exposure times and places. We test every week. We're vaccinated. We still worry a little.
After the game, we got to sit in our car for almost an hour before the lines in the parking ramp moved at our level. It was a nice quiet time, listening to the recap after the game, scrolling through bits and bobs on the phone while we waited. We ordered pizza to pick up on the way home.