In May of 2020 we had tickets to The Moth Radio Hour held at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. The event was canceled due to Covid. I’ve always enjoyed listening to the Moth—live, unscripted storytelling events that NPR carries on WAMC. And about ten years ago we went to a Moth event in Northampton, MA.
People get passionate telling their stories—sometimes they are one-of-a-kind dramatic incidents, other times more universal experiences told from a fresh perspective. The stories can be exciting and compelling, and I’ve always wanted to come up with the story I would tell to a Moth audience. I haven’t identified that story yet because not just any story will do: it has to be sublime, and I’d have to hit it out of the park. I’m very competitive in that way, as I am in telling stories at Pecha Kucha events.
That canceled Moth event from 2020 got rescheduled for this May, and it stayed on the schedule despite the uptick in Covid cases again. But we had our tickets and we decided to go.
It was a warm night and upon entering the music hall we found out it was not air-conditioned because that would interfere with its “superior acoustics.” Fine. It’s a packed house, about 1200 people. Fine. Virtually no one is wearing a mask. I realize I don’t even have a mask with me. We’re fully vaxxed; I’ve had two booster shots. This is the way it is now, we’re living our lives in the Covid era.
There are five Moth storytellers tonight. The first (and best) one is from a woman in her eighties who barely avoids getting financially scammed by a man she corresponds with on a dating site. Another is from a young woman who rose from nothing to become a successful attorney. There’s the son of the absent cab-driver father who receives an assortment of weird gifts from his father that turn out to be items left by passengers in the cab. There’s the rape victim who seeks revenge on her attacker. And finally, the blind guy who gets to drive a race car.
A pleasant, but hot and stuffy, evening.
A week later I have Covid. Not just me, Harriet too. Then Owen tests positive. Such is life in a small household of four adults. At this point, only Julia remains unsullied.
Do I know I got Covid at the Moth event? There’s no way of being sure, and the couple we went with have not gotten sick, but the Moth is the likely culprit although Julia says her allergies were really bad last week and not so much this week. Was she the source of Covid? Possibly but unlikely.
I’ve always had a strong immune system. I rarely catch colds. I haven’t had the flu in over twenty years. I’ve been careful and compliant regarding Covid protocols (until the Moth), yet secretly believed if I were exposed my immune system would crush any Covid invaders. Oh, the hubris! The arrogance! And now I have to worry did I infect others.
Harriet says I act like it’s a personal insult that I got Covid—but that’s not quite accurate. More than feeling personally insulted I feel I have personally failed. That’s a harsh self-assessment, and it doesn’t bode well for my future mental state as I continue on the path of inevitable decline, but at least I recognize my tendency and might be able to summon more self-compassion as time goes on.
Feeling crappy but not dying. Not heartbroken and grieving like the unfortunate people profiled in the New York Times.
The ironic thing about the Moth event is that the stories we heard were pretty good, but none of them blew me away as must-hear tales worth lining up and getting Covid for. Now I know what I have to do: spend the rest of my isolation time working on a must-hear story of my own to tell at a future Moth event, but it won’t be this story.