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The Adventures of Smart Tony, Episode One: You mean other things kill people too?

Smart Tony was basking in his fame and his adulation, knowing that his calls for everyone to wear masks and be afraid of the army of Greek-letter variants coming our way would save trillions of American lives. He was so proud to be on the TV every day where the best journalists in the country listened to his every word and never asked him a tough question. And he was equally proud that even though his strategies to curb COVID-19 led to the highest death rate in the world, his good liberal friends kept assuring him that it would have been far worse had no one listened to him, as was apparent in all those places that didn’t love him as much as the intelligent parts of the country.

But then one day someone yelled something at him that was very disturbing.

“Yo, Smart Tony, why don’t you care about all the people who die of other things, and all the people who are dying of the quarantine? There are far more of those than COVID deaths, and you never mention them. Why, smart Tony, why?”

This struck smart Tony as odd. “What do you mean?” he asked the lady. “I didn’t know people died of other things. No one ever told me that.”

“Well,” the lady said. “They do.”

Smart Tony tried to look for any evidence of people dying of other things in the most reliable sources he had. He checked the CDC website, read the New York Times, listened to CNN and MSNBC, and concluded that the lady on the street must be wrong. He knew that most people were uninformed and often got their news for unreliable internet sites. “That must have been what happened,” he said. "Cause all my reliable sources just talk about the COVID."

The next day he was talking to his friend Jake—who thanked him over and over again for being so smart and sexy and sciency—and he asked Jake the question posed to him by the lady.

“Jake,” smart Tony laughed. “Some lady on the street accused me that I never talk about people dying of other things, just about COVID. But COVID is the only thing killing people, right? You don’t talk about nothing else. No one does, other than the unscientific right-wing people you tell me to stay away from. What do you think?”

Jake paused and then put his hand on smart Tony’s shoulder. “Don’t let it get to you,” he said. “If I don’t talk about it, if Rachel and Morning Joe don’t talk about it, then it doesn’t exist.”

“But are there other things that kill people, things other than COVID?” smart Tony asked. “Aren’t all the hospitals just filled with COVID people? Isn’t COVID killing everyone who don’t get the vaccine or wear masks and that’s why everyone is dying? That lady must be wrong.”

Jake nodded up and down. “It’s complicated, smart Tony,” he said. “But don’t let it worry you.”

And yet, it did. Smart Tony talked to his maid one day, and she showed him stuff that made his hair fall out. “More people died this year than in the last twenty years,” she said, in her most unscientific way. “And not much of that was from COVID. More people die of smoking every year, of other ramifications of their poor health decisions, of other diseases. If you just look at kids, only a few hundred died of COVID, while 4000 died in car accidents and 3000 died of guns. They say that the excess deaths from suicide and drug overdoses will be in the tens of thousands of kids, all because of the quarantine.”

This shocked smart Tony. Of course, he knew never to listen to an uneducated maid, and that Jake—the smartest journalist in the land—reassured him. But still, could it be possible?

What smart Tony discovered was very upsetting to him. The maid was right about the cars and the guns, and maybe even some of the other stuff too! And for several nights, smart Tony lost sleep, tossing and turning, fretting about these other deaths. I want to save everyone from everything, dream Tony told him. If other things cause death, I want to stop that too!

So, once again he talked to Jake about it, and Jake said that yes, maybe there were some other deaths from other things, but he shouldn’t focus on that. “If people hear about lots of things killing them, they’ll get all confused and won’t focus on COVID. And if they don’t focus on COVID, then they may not listen to you, or to me. Best not to confuse people. You’re doing a great job, smart Tony! Don’t let the words of a little maid get into your big brain!”

But it did, and he couldn’t sleep. He wanted to save the world! After many nights of insomnia and high doses of melatonin, smart Tony had a eureka moment! He ran over to Jake to talk to him about it, then went right to the White House and shared it with the President. He was going to save the world after all! And he was going to do it his way!

One night on the TV, Jake asked him about other deaths, just like smart Tony told him to do. And then smart Tony laid out his plan.

“I’ve been informed that kids die of other things in addition to COVID,” he said, in his most erudite way. “I care about kids. I got some of my own. So, with the approval of the Prez, and the CDC, and all the guys you love and trust, including some really smart doctors who do whatever I tell them to do without asking no questions, I’m announcing my new initiative: Stop All Death in Kids, or SAD Kids. And this is how we’s is gonna do it.”

Then he laid it out, and Jake drooled so much that the cameraman had to get him a tissue.

“Turns out, lots of kids die of car accidents, far more than I want to hear about,” he said. “So, our President has proposed a law, already approved by the major auto makers, that from now on, all new cars will be fitted with masks, both N95 Auto masks, and shields too. All old cars got twenty days to get their masks put on their cars, at their own expense of course; who won’t pay money to save kids, right? This should stop any more kids from dying in crashes, just like it stopped everyone from dying of COVID.”

Jake applauded. “What a hero you are, smart Tony,” he said. “This is how science saves lives.”

“Yes, and there’s more,” said smart Tony. “Lots of kids die of guns too. And these politicians, they don’t never figure out how to stop it. But I got the solution, me, smart Tony, I figured it out. From now on, with permission by the NRA and our President, all guns will be fitted with N95 masks, so when they fire, the bullet will have to go through the mask before it hurts someone, and these masks, they protect kids from bullets just the same as they protect them from the COVID and from crashes so ain’t no more kids will die from guns neither, not when we put masks on them. I guarantee it!”

“You can’t argue with mask science,” said Jake. “And anyone who argues with you is just a moron, smart Tony. You are the smartest and sexiest and most sciency man in the world. And we love you for it, and for saving everyone’s life all the time!”

“Hey, no problem,” said smart Tony. “That’s my pleasure.”

And knowing that he saved the world yet again, smart Tony slept well forevermore, dreaming of masks on airplanes, in swimming pools, and even on ice cream cones. This made him very happy indeed.

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