If ever there was an emotional topic that needed a pragmatic approach … it would be the COVID-19 vaccine.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's very frustrating and heartbreaking that so much of the recent COVID-19 surge of serious cases and deaths could've been avoided, but regardless of your beliefs, it's certainly an emotional topic which is something that comes naturally for Red, while Black (in her typical fashion) approaches it pragmatically.
Red was initially apprehensive about the "newness" of the vaccine, but ever since the pandemic had started has done everything in her power to protect her family, admitting at times that she's gone overboard but she prefers to take more precautions than not enough. So, when she and her daughter were eligible for the vaccine, she decided the fear of getting a serious case of COVID-19 was reason enough, not caring which vaccine they received. And although it's been months since they've been fully vaccinated, and Red's recently started to go out to eat and to the movies, she still wears a mask and socially distances as much as possible.
But now, the Delta variant's running rampant, is highly contagious, and causes severe cases requiring hospitalization. Of course, Red was alarmed by all the "news" that the vaccinated can get and transmit COVID-19 until Black explained that you needed to look at the actual numbers and small percentages. But that doesn't change the fact the variant's spreading at a similar rate to chickenpox. And it doesn't stop Red from feeling sad, angry, and frustrated, especially when she hears the stories from moms and nurses about seriously ill people who had chosen not to get vaccinated,
It's heartbreaking. I look around and see people who didn't need to get sick and so many vulnerable people, especially children, that are at risk. I don't understand why anyone would take that chance when a vaccine's available. And why put others at risk? I agree with the argument that everyone has the right to their own body, but at a certain point, doesn't public health override personal freedom?!
Black, on the other hand, although she shares Red's concerns, has a very different (and pragmatic) way of looking at the current challenge of changing people's minds, knowing that unlike herself, most people don't respond to statistics and studies (except when the "news" takes those numbers and "spins" them to make headlines), or being told what to do. Instead, they need something more emotional – or personal – to engage them. Or to get them to at least listen, which is where the power of stories comes into play.
Unfortunately, as the Delta variant continues to spread, hospitals are again becoming overloaded with cases, and deaths are growing week-by-week. Maybe that will help convince some of the people who previously refused the vaccine, no matter the strategy used, to reconsider,
I will not get into the issues of sensationalized headlines and mixed (and unclear) messages coming from the CDC. Or, the politics of it all. Or, that many businesses and organizations are starting to require vaccination, while others fight whether that is even legal. Forget trying to tell people what to do and guilt trips (being raised by a Jewish mother, I am immune to guilt trips). Acknowledge that many people are reluctant for a variety of reasons, and that respecting their right to a different opinion is different from agreeing with it.
Instead, if we focus on the real issue at hand … preventing serious illness and death … the answer is very easy. We all should get f-ing [four-letter expletive deleted] vaccinated.
We're starting to see that not everyone that has refused a vaccine remains steadfast. We're sure there are studies and statistics about why they changed their mind, but the point is they changed their mind and are getting the vaccine. Which means that there's the potential for millions of others who can be persuaded.
Happy Meals. Lasik surgery. A Supreme Court justice. Any idea what these three things have in common?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Although Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 as a week-long event, Red, the straight-A student and lover of history, is a bit embarrassed that she didn't know about it, but the theater major in her realizes they're under-represented (and misrepresented) in the movies. When we talked about the comparison of "In The Heights" to "West Side Story," Black wasn't only focused on the business aspects but also how it reflects the times, and now is interested in the many contributions (including patents) made by Latinx, and the need for inclusion and diversity.
P.S. – We were both curious why the month-long celebration begins mid-month (September 15) and discovered it's in honor of the anniversaries of national independence for many Latin American countries.
Can something be "new" if it's made with "old" ingredients?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Black's fascinated by the business and marketing aspects of food mash-ups (especially the multi-generational angle), while Red's excited that her beloved Dunkin' has collaborated with Post Cereals and there's now Dunkin' cereal (and both of us love the tag line, "Now you can have your coffee and eat it, too!). Funny thing is that we've all probably been doing our own "mash-ups" for years (ok, maybe not Black).
As the song says, "They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, they say there's always magic in the air on Broadway" … and now it's all coming back!
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Although we live in Texas, we're originally from New York, and as different as we are, one thing we have in common is a love of Broadway, so we're excited about the re-opening of Broadway, even if for very different reasons.
For Red, the re-opening of Broadway's a return to better times, and even if she doesn't get to New York soon, it reminds her of falling in love with the theater – from Shakespeare to musicals, dramas to comedies – and why she majored in it at college. Yet her introduction to Broadway, which was less than 30 miles from where we grew up on Long Island, started thousands of miles away in London. At the time, Black was attending (not sure "studying" would be an accurate description) London Business School for the final semester of her M.B.A., and as Red's 16th birthday gift had her visit for a few weeks.
On one of Red's first nights in London, Black took her to the West End to see "The Crucifer of Blood" at the Haymarket (its "proper" name is the Theatre Royal Haymarket and to this day remains Red's favorite theater) starring Keith Michell. Red had avidly watched him years prior as he portrayed Henry VIII in the Masterpiece Theater series, and that night, she watched him play Sherlock Holmes on stage and,
I can remember it as if it was yesterday. Watching a live performance was magical and inspiring, and I felt like it brought all of us in the audience together. There's something very powerful about the theater "experience", and although there'll be various safety precautions, I'm excited Broadway's coming back. And I'd love to see Six, the acclaimed British musical about the six wives of Henry VIII, which was hours from its first-night opening when theaters closed.
Black remembers the first Broadway show she ever saw, Finian's Rainbow, when she was about 10-years-old. She hated it because she thought the storyline was far-fetched, and people didn't just break out in song for no apparent reason. (Obviously, she's always been pragmatic.)
Years later, Black was pursuing her M.B.A. at New York University, took an accounting class from one of the Shubert Organization founders, and was introduced to the business side of theater and immediately took an active interest. First in the history of what made Broadway, Broadway, and then she started going to the Broadway "hits" to understand what the market wanted. Looking at how Broadway continually seemed to reinvent itself to survive (there's a soon-to-be-released documentary, "On Broadway"), although it will face daunting financial odds.
And now that reinvention will include the recently signed "New Deal" where the theater industry itself (theater owners, producers, creatives, casting directors, even union leaders) has committed to reforms that will ensure equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging. Of course, Black can't help but point out the elephant in the room (or is it the elephant on stage?),
Broadway has long been known as "The Great White Way," and although it was because of all the electric white lights on the theatre marquees and billboards, there is a "politically incorrect" connotation to that phrase. However, the Broadway that closed in March 2020 will be very different when it reopens … and hopefully will be the beginning of a strong season and a bright future.