Lileks: How to let everyone know you're jabbed

James Lileks, Star Tribune
·3 min read

How will you tell everyone you've gotten vaccinated?

"I won't," you say. "I am a private citizen who does not spray every detail of his life on social media for the meaningless approval of strangers. I don't take pictures of my dinner and post them on Instagram, any more than my great-grandmother would have commissioned an oil painting of her supper and trotted around the country on a horse, holding the picture up to people's windows."

Huh. So you're a weirdo, then. But I understand. I also understand the people who post pictures of themselves with proof they got "the jab," as we call it now, because it's a British term and it makes us feel like an extra from "The Crown." It's a joyous thing, as if one is a butterfly cracking the COVID chrysalis.

People also want to share which brand they got. "I got the Pfizer jab! Top notes of pain, subtle hints of copper." There's been a hitch in the release of the J&J version, denying users the chance to gloat: "One and done, peasants." (Which raises the question: Shouldn't we call it just the Johnson and refer to the two-shot versions as Pfizer & Pfizer or Moderna & Moderna?) I don't know anyone who's gotten the AstraZeneca, which sounds like someone you meet at the co-op who's into crystals and drives a Volvo slathered with bumper stickers.

Anyway. Some people are noting that the proof of vaccination is a bit ungainly and does not easily fit in your wallet. Couldn't we make the vaccination record slim and stylish, like a passport?

No. First of all, every passport photo I've ever had looks like it was shot with the War Criminal Filter enabled. Second, passport lines are stressful. You hand your docs to the stern official with the cap and badge and short-sleeved shirt. He stares at you, looks down at your passport, looks back at you, and you know he's thinking "a clever fake, this" while his foot pushes the button to summon Interpol.

Imagine repeating that procedure at the grocery store:

"Reason for visiting?"

"I need to pick up some lettuce, milk and perhaps a frozen pizza. If it's on sale. Of course, one of the brands is always on sale. I swear the price of a Bellatoria varies two dollars from day to day, depending, so you never really know what the true value is. $8.99? $5? Sorry, I'm babbling. Encounters like this make me chatty. Nerves, I suppose. Everything's OK with my passport, right?"

Another hard look, and then the official finds a free page that isn't full of stamps from Cub and Lunds and Kowalski's and pounds your passport with the official seal, giving you a curt nod that says, "We have eyes on you, friend."

So no passport. But how about a bar code on the forehead? Too Mark-of-the-Beasty. How about a balloon? When I got a booster shot from the pediatrician, I was given a balloon that said "From My Doctor for Being Good." You got one even if you bit the nurse. Perhaps that's the best signal: walking around with a balloon tied to your ear. You could see the un-vaxxed coming a block away.

Anyway, I'm making no Instagram or Twitter posting when I get the shot. Eventually you can just look for the smile, with no mask to conceal it. That's the best proof of all.

james.lileks@startribune.com