A couple weeks ago, after I got back from a week in Boston, I had a couple symptoms of COVID-19.

It started out as a head cold, which I attributed to a day of air travel in a less-than-fresh mask — a runny nose, some sneezes. It felt kind of like allergies. But I could still smell and taste things, so I thought I was okay.

But I was not up to speed on the Delta variant, which landed in the United States hard about the same day I got to Boston, after spending time in three international airports. A friend told me on my second day of symptoms that the Delta variant presents as a head cold, or allergies. I checked it out of course — only a fucking moron would take medical advice at face value from a guy in the office.

He was right.

But! But this couldn’t be! I was vaccinated! Moderna! I quit smoking! I’ve been working at my kitchen table for more than a year! No way, man. No way I got the ’rona. Because if I did, then I would have shed live virus all over my whole family and a couple people at work. We would have to cancel a long-planned party for my in-laws; it would interrupt the start of the fall semester for my college kids; it would affect my wife’s business; and I would have to spend the next two weeks in my bedroom, alone, to keep my virus to myself.

Another day and the infection had moved into my lungs, which after seven months without cigarettes gave up ichorous wads of phlegm with each painful cough. But I could still smell stuff! And I could taste stuff! Sort of!

I couldn’t schedule a test until Day 3, at the CVS out on Hicone Road because there were no appointments in town for weeks. I had been quarantining for almost 48 hours and was starting to feel a bit better. I drove out there alone, my wife and daughter in a separate car. And then I went back to my quarantine space for another 24 hours, during which I began to feel a whole lot better. I got the negative diagnosis the next day, and I felt better immediately.

I hadn’t been that panicked about the virus since April 2020. But unlike then, these days the math is on my side.

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