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Greetings, everyone!

I know I said hosting book club would have to wait for our local case numbers to drop and vaccination rates to go up, but now that Scott and I have become desensitized to seeing daily national death tolls in the thousands, we figure we're ready to put out some baked brie and see our favorite people. And with everyone vaccinated and healthy, it should be fine. So let's get our calendars out! Reply — not reply all, ha ha! —with your preferred Saturday next month and a nomination for our next book. Can't wait to see you all in person!

Hello again!

OK, thanks for responding so quickly, friends! I'm hearing not everyone has gotten their shot(s). So I guess I'll ask the group how we feel about those who've chosen not to vaccinate masking or Zoom-ing in? So far, it looks like the second Saturday is in the lead. Ted, thanks for the timely suggestion but maybe DeFoe's A Journal of the Plague Year isn't quite the thing to celebrate getting back to normal. And, please, everyone remember to avoid the reply-all button so we don't clog up those inboxes. Thanks!

I get it!

Zoom fatigue is real, lol. And while I sympathize with those of you who feel discriminated against, please refrain from comparing missing out on Scott's mulled wine with being sent to a Nazi death camp. I would have thought the chapter of Eli Wiesel's Night most of us skimmed through before tapping out would have taught us all better. (And for the record, Naomi, when you pitched a "historical" book you made it sound way more Outlander, but whatever.) Anyway, since there's still time, perhaps those who'd like to attend could get vaccinated this month?


Let's all take a deep breath and try to remain respectful and also not hit reply all. These are unprecedented times and I'm sure that under different circumstances, Naomi would not have responded to Anita's explanation about not wanting anything unknown in her body by bringing up her Botox injections or that bartender in Tahoe. Moving on, it sounds like a few folks aren't comfortable with the vaccine for personal reasons. Likewise, if we weren't all so stressed, I doubt Elaine and Todd would have said such frankly unkind things about Scott's mulled wine, which is a spicy, seasonal delight. Yes, it's a little heavy but not everybody is used to downing a box of Franzia rosé in one night, Elaine. Also thanks to you both for all the YouTube links — so important to hear different viewpoints, even if they are from some guy hawking supplements and tanning beds! Is watching the next video the algorithm sends you really "research?" Sure. Why not.

Finally, I see what you're trying to do, Ted and we're not reading Stephen King's The Stand.


Let's start over and just make this a vaccinated/Zoom evening. Nobody at unnecessary risk and nobody "crushed under the authoritarian jackboot of this book club," Dan. If we're going to talk dictators, Dan, maybe you should think about why we all stopped going to your game nights. And Cheryl, while Naomi could have put it more gently without the reference to a leprechaun's fishnets, the mask you crafted from a mesh key lime bag is ineffective at best. Also, everyone: a reminder that as a veterinarian, Paul cannot write prescriptions for humans so please stop hitting him up for horse de-wormer. And stop hitting reply all. I'm begging you.

Good evening!

Well, morning, really, as I've been up fielding emails since I got off work. I understand some people would like to confirm vaccination status officially with cards. (The Costco muffins passed off as homemade two years ago seem to have eroded some group trust. And please don't get defensive, Celia, we all heard the crinkling plastic from the kitchen.) So go ahead and send me a pic of your vaccine card and we can get back to choosing a book that will definitely not be dystopian fiction or outbreak-related nonfiction, Ted.


This is clearly a business reply card from Men's Health Magazine that you've just written your name and the word "PFIZER" on. And yes, I know I'm replying all because, Jesus, you people have no idea. You're on the Zoom, Dan.

Dear book club family,

I'd like to apologize, as my last email was not a reflection of my best self. We can have different opinions and still be friends! Even if that difference means one person being fine with possibly exposing their friend to a virus that could make them feel like they're drowning and leave them with long-term symptoms if they're lucky enough to survive. Right? And yes, we need to respect the medical privacy of others, even if up until now they've been totally OK with posting close-up photos of their foot ailments to crowd-source home remedies on Facebook. We need to listen to friends who feel suffocated by masks, even if we know that with the industrial strength shapewear they're wearing at this very moment, they could be dropped from an airplane and their torso would remain completely intact — but no complaints about breathing there! And we need to acknowledge the beliefs of our friends, even if, like Anita, they've been brainwashed into thinking COVID vaccines turn your skin magnetic or toxic like a freaking Amazonian tree frog. In that spirit of compromise, let's start over with a nice al fresco brunch in our backyard. But we've all already read Lord of the Flies, Ted. Please respond individually, not, for the love of all that's holy, by replying all.

You know what — no.

Am I so desperate for the thin veneer of normalcy that I'm willing to roll the dice with my health to sit around a table and talk about a book none of you read? I honestly won't even read it. I'll just get the audiobook and listen at double speed like it's being told by goddamned chipmunks because I am exhausted living in this pandemic nightmare that's being prolonged by the very people I'm hoping to toast with this awful mulled wine. Of course it's awful — it's hot. It's hot wine, for Christ's sake. But I pretend to like it the same way I pretend your utterly self-destructive game of make-believe isn't endangering literally everyone! Well, I'm done. I'm locking it down, reading some old Garfield comics and eating this brie by myself with whatever wine hasn't been boiled to hell yet. Paul, hit me up if you're holding any ketamine. Don't reply all.

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the Journal's arts and features editor. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.

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About The Author

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal. She won the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2020 Best Food Writing Award and the 2019 California News Publisher's Association award for Best Writing.

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