Ugly Sobbing Was An Unexpected Side-Effect Of The Covid-19 Vaccine

First came the jab, then the crying jag

The good news is it has been two weeks since I got my second jab of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and I can’t stop crying.

That’s the first side effect. I have become hopelessly sentimental. I tear up for no good reason. There are other side effects, like a sore arm and for some reason, my freezer is full of frozen pizzas. But my main reaction to the vaccine is sudden, involuntary, weeping.

After the nurse gave me the needle I looked at her with tender eyes welling up with tears and said “thank you” and without saying a word she handed me my vaccination card and pointed me towards a room where I was supposed to sit for fifteen minutes to make sure I didn’t have a bad reaction and for those 15 minutes I blubbered, quietly.

I haven’t really stopped sniffling since then. My pockets are stuffed with tissues. Everything is hunky-dory. I feel like a mutant mole person who hasn’t ever seen the surface, but other than that, you know, très bien. I’m just a little wobbly, like a newborn fawn. An overweight, middle-aged fawn.

I’m not losing my mind. I’m just very tenderhearted right now. You know that old stand-up comedian bit about an airplane’s nearly indestructible black box and why don’t they make the whole plane out of the black box stuff? Yeah, well, I’m all heart right now.

The pandemic is far from over and I’m still wearing a mask but I saw a pretty little birdie on a branch during a stroll in the park and I got dust in my eyes. It had been a long time since I strolled. I almost got hit by a bus, and that made me think about the good ol’ days when I almost got hit by buses all the time! I visited my corner bodega for the first time in a year and when I told the sandwich guy I wanted extra mayo he replied “I know what I’m fucking doing, guy.” He called me guy! I’ll be honest that made me wistful.

I get misty over the little things now. And all big things are made from little things. They’re tears of gratitude, but also tears of relief. It’s not over but it will be different. The world will heal but there will be scars.

Until then, I’m the mayor of waterworks U.S.A.

I once made the mistake of joining a gym and signing up for a training session. That’s, actually, two mistakes. Anyway, I remember the trainer — a man-sized chuck roast who yelled like he was trapped in coffin — shouting “sweat is pain leaving the body” and maybe that’s true about tears, too. I cry when I remember what I’ve lost, and the last twelve months have been nothing but loss.

I’ve lost connections and rituals and security. I’ve watched people I love lose their dearest ones. The loss is staggering, humbling. A few people I know are flirting with denial. The plan is to pretend COVID-19 was just a bad dream and not what it was, a slow-motion apocalypse that killed hundreds of thousands. They’re trying to memory hole the pandemic but the memories are too big to fit. I don’t know about you but I will be unpacking this tragedy for the rest of my life.

Unpacking. Mourning. Remembering. Remembering the fear and courage, the chaos and grace. But I don’t want to rush that. I have happy crying to do. It’s my new hobby. I’m meeting a friend tomorrow and I’m going to lose it when I see him.

I sob like a real man. How does a real man sob? Well, first, he squints. He bites his lower lip like it’s bubble gum. Then, like a jungle cat, he darts away so he can bawl his eyes out, just scrunch up his face and let the mucus flow out of his nose and into his mouth and maybe he chokes on all the tears and snot and hopefully by this point he’s far away from anyone, alone, because if a someone who cares about him were to see emotions like love and sorrow and hope pass through him like a storm that person may continue to care about him and the problem with that is if you are loved, then you have no excuse not to love yourself.

There are no instruction videos on how to cry if you’re a man. So… subscribe to my YouTube channel I guess? (I do not have a YouTube Channel.)

So, yeah. That’s how I cry. I’m considering showing my hideous cryface to friends and family (I do not have a choice.) I am full of that good vax and, very soon, I will share my cryface with everyone in my life.

I know one person who doesn’t want to get the vaccine because he doesn’t trust the government or the corporations that created the shot. I sympathized with his feelings for a minute. Sixty seconds, and then I was done. For most of 2020, the most powerful man in the world was on a mission to pollute important life-and-death conversations between the government and the people with falsehoods and it was a shockingly ineffective way to control a tragic situation spiraling out of control that required discipline and thoughtfulness to manage.

But eventually, I told him to get the prick, prick. I told him I wanted to be able to see him and his family and then I got choked up. Because that’s what I do now. I have compacted tears. They must come out.

There are so many things I want to do now that I’m fully vaccinated. I can’t wait to see a very loud action movie in a theater. Like, the kind of movie that kills brain cells. I want to buy a pretty flower from a street flower vendor because I’m a pretty flower. I want to perform the Beauty and the Beast opening number ‘Belle’ in my neighborhood. I want to sit in a barber’s chair and get a haircut and then eat a folded-up slice of cheese pizza over a trashcan.

Here’s what else I want to do: crush friends with hugs. Take the subway anywhere, I don’t care. Browse the soup aisle at a grocery store. There are so many! Then wander a bookstore like it’s a maze that leads to another dimension. I can’t wait to by someone who isn’t wearing a mask without pointing and screaming “NOOOO” like a ghost. I want to get on a plane for a four-hour panic attack to visit my family in Texas. Just thinking about these things makes me… well, look, you know.

Writer/editor. NYPost, CONAN, Sirius XM. 2X James Beard Award winner. I created Humungus, a blog about movies, tv & feelings.

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