For four months, Gov. Jared Polis has tried to appeal to our intellects with thorough presentations of the facts. He’s used flattery, suggesting that Coloradans are special and exceptional in our willingness to cooperate to protect each other’s health and to preserve our cherished way of life.

He’s expressed empathy for all of us who have sacrificed so much throughout the pandemic. He’s tried to be a conscientious role model. And he hasn’t hesitated to bring the hammer down on businesses or individuals that have flagrantly defied his health and safety restrictions.

Then last week, in the face of a worrisome uptick in COVID-19 cases in Colorado, the plainly exasperated governor let ’er rip in a Facebook post.

Diane Carman

He called those who won’t wear masks in public places “selfish bastards.” Then he followed it up with an order to wear masks indoors in public places.

You go, Jared.

Now, I’ll admit, I haven’t been out much since mid-March, so I’m not exactly an expert on mask compliance. Except for exercising outside and socially distanced gatherings where we bring our own everything and sit six feet apart in somebody’s back yard, my only outings have been to the grocery store.

But, whenever I see somebody walk barefaced past the “masks required” signs at the entrance, saltier versions of the “selfish bastard” epithet have spontaneously come to mind. 

So far, I’ve refrained from expressing them, figuring it would simply increase my exposure to a likely disease vector who’s obviously proud to be a selfish bastard. And, just for the sake of my sanity, I make it a habit to avoid interacting with selfish bastards in general.

It’s not that hard. Even before refusing to wear masks was a defining characteristic, selfish bastards were easy to spot – hogging two parking places with their bloated SUVs, jumping the line at the deli counter, refusing to pick up their dogs’ deposits in the park ….

But as the outbreak continues unabated due to the high proportion of selfish bastards in our midst, we all must find ways to confront them or none of us will ever be able to eat in a restaurant safely again. So, here are a few (mostly) gentle suggestions.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

To the selfish bastard who invites you to celebrate her husband’s birthday along with 35 other “dear friends” at a catered event inside their home because “we’ve been good long enough and it’s time to party – no masks allowed,” I suggest a formal written response illustrating the precise passively aggressive etiquette appropriate to the occasion.

Something like: “Thank you for your thoughtless invitation, but we are unable to attend your COVIDfest due to a previous commitment to rational behavior during a raging public health crisis. Best wishes to your husband on what just might be his last birthday.”

In the case of the patient with a broken ankle who was stunned to see that her selfish bastard orthopedist was not wearing a mask during an office visit and then the doctor ridiculed her concern by joking that he was not worried about catching COVID from her, a swift spontaneous approach is preferable. 

On the way out of the office, just say, “I’ll let you know where to send my medical records. And don’t even think about billing me for this.”

For the entitled selfish bastards on college campuses who strive to become the first in their social circle to test positive after bragging about attending a COVID frat party, I suggest offering simple practical advice. 

“Are you sure you’re college material? I mean, if you’re really that eager to get COVID, I’m certain there are plenty of qualified college candidates working in meatpacking plants who would gladly trade places with you.”

And finally, to the guy in the Safeway in Fraser who defied the mask requirement last week and seemed to appear in every damn aisle no matter how desperately I tried to avoid him, this is what I should have said:

“Pardon me, sir. I can’t help but notice you skipped the line at the deli counter, your car with the Texas plates is hogging two places in the parking lot, and I’m pretty sure you didn’t pick up after your dog when he took a dump outside. 

“Obviously, you’re a selfish bastard.

“For the safety and entertainment of everyone here, please remove your pants and wrap your underwear tightly around your face while you’re shopping. 

“Oh, and welcome to colorful Colorado. Have a great day!”

Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.

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