Summary of the first part: Chimango wears a chinstrap that can only be seen by those who appreciate living in freedom. The saleswoman at the kiosk, unable to see the chinstrap, refuses to sell him a bottle of mineral water.
Having discovered, the good Chimango, that his chinstrap made by the Andersen tailors was imperceptible to all the people who voluntarily used the conventional chinstrap, decided to stop insisting on their acceptance: perhaps in addition to refusing to exchange goods, they will lock him up in a madhouse.
He had just made this decision, silent and subjective, when he managed to discover a bar where his fellow citizens drank coffee without masks or pressure. This is mine, the good Chimango told himself, a free space where the person lives without that unsanitary facial shroud. So he went to the counter and ordered a coffee to go.
“No, sir,” the bartender snapped. To order at the counter, you must wear your chinstrap.
“But they’re all sitting inside,” Chimango argued, “without a chinstrap.” While I want to order to take away, abroad, where you can walk without a chinstrap according to the norm. Why should I have to wear a mask to order at the counter?
“It’s the law,” said the bartender.
Chimango heard in that phrase a Kafkaesque reminiscence: the story Before the Law, and The process. But it was more than reminiscent: it was a literal case.
The owners and employees of the premises allowed, as appropriate, customers to drink without a mask indoors; but they had become alienated to the point of refusing to sell him coffee if he decided to drink it, much safer, according to the same delusional “sanitary” theory, abroad.
To the generation of Chimango, She had been ripped off for a couple of months with the Sea Monkeys In the 70s. But many more millions of people embraced the masquerade farce in the 21st century indefinitely.
Chimango took a seat like everyone else without a mask and ordered coffee from his table.
“I can’t serve you coffee to take to your table,” said the waiter. Just to drink at the table.
– But what is the difference? Chimango asked.
“It’s the law,” the waiter insisted.
Chimango noted with interest that, as in a Kafka story, the rest of the crowd remained silent, oblivious. If even the waiter called the police, and asked the law enforcement officers to expel the customer who wanted to order a coffee to go from the table, instead of doing it at the counter, wearing a mask, surely no one would react either; or worse still, they would collaborate in his expulsion.
Chimango finally ordered the coffee to drink at the table, paid for it, left it intact, and left. There was something much worse than the coronavirus, Chimango mused, that irrational leniency that had taken hold of people.
It was evident that precaution against a virus had nothing to do with standing or sitting, with or without a chinstrap, in the same space: the coronavirus could not affect those who ordered coffee to go more than those who took it on the spot. That was nonsense with no relation to reality.
But that long-term irrational idiocy could lead to much worse tragedies than a coronavirus. The mythology by which millions of people walked dizzy down the street (after the same health authorities explained that it was no longer needed), and the authoritarian energy of those who imposed the chinstrap to exchange goods, were in themselves a danger.
Chimango and a thousand of his acquaintances had never been locked up at home, every day they had gone out for a walk without a mask, no one had died from it, none had become seriously ill. There were not one or two, there were a thousand people – he had counted them – with whom Chimango had shared testimonies.
The “Thousand” had never forced anyone to leave their house, or to take off their chinstrap, or to dance on one leg, or to sing the arrorró. They just wanted to walk freely without a mask. Not because they were part of a religion or because they believed in some kind of conspiracy theory: they had simply discovered empirically that there was no unapproachable risk in walking without a chinstrap; just as they did not wear a burqa.
Chimango decided to do a little gymnastics to reduce the tension of the mistreatment he had just suffered. In the gym, the teacher explained that he could do weights without a chinstrap, and pulleys without a chinstrap, but that to walk from the weights to the pulleys, at two meters, he had to put on the chinstrap. In the changing room, the manager warned him to keep the mask on at all times, except for showering.
“But there are people in the covered swimming pool,” Chimango said. And now all of us are vaccinated with two doses. What is the point of sharing the pool water without a chinstrap, but not being able to be in the changing room without a chinstrap?
“It’s the law,” the manager explained. Just like the waiter at the bar.
Suddenly, while Chimango, after bathing, was preparing to leave, an assailant entered, wearing a mask. At gunpoint, he stripped them of their money, cell phones, and watches. All the defenders of the chinstrap, who had practically expelled Chimango from the compound again, meekly accepted the robbery. Chimango too.
When the assailant left, Chimango commented with his wardrobe mates and the manager: – You have been very successful in expelling me for not wearing a mask. While they have manifested total meekness, like me, in front of this armed criminal. It was logical: we wanted to preserve our lives.
But … don’t you think that, since we surrender so conspicuously in front of an armed stranger, they should at least allow me to circulate around here without a mask, since I am not armed or threatening anyone? I mean … only to brute force do you give in? Will there be no concession to the individual who, without threatening anyone, he just wants to live in freedom?
One of the wardrobe neighbors called the authorities: Chimango had forgotten to put on his mask to deliver that speech. The assailant was not spoken of again: Chimango ended up that afternoon at the police station.
Shortly before falling asleep in prison, while waiting for his friend Garcia to pay bail, Chimango recalled an episode from a movie that he remembered with admiration: Jack Nicholson, in Trapped without exitHe discovered, in the asylum, that the rest of the inmates were there because they wanted to.
Nobody forced them, much less imposed them. They were willingly staying in the very hell that Nicholson wanted to escape from. Just like the muddled volunteers on the street, but with a radical difference: the inmates of the Nicholson asylum did not report him or try to prevent him from escaping. In any case, both the movie and the reality ended badly.
Reference from clarin