Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
Okay, so I think we can all agree that my first mistake was clicking on an Instagram ad.
Every year, Instagram figures out enough about me to know that I want a chunky sweater with a bold pattern, but never figures out that I am absolutely not going to buy said chunky sweater from a sketchy-looking shell company where even the products in the ads look threadbare. And so I never click on those ads and the little Rumpelstiltskins at Instagram bang their fists and gnash their teeth and vow, "One day we will get you to click!"
But I never click! Until last week.
And the thing is, the click wasn't even for a sweater (or the spring version of the IG ad lure: the swimsuit and/or kaftan that will make everything about my life different). No, it was a plain, kind of pedestrian ad for a clinical trial. And not just any clinical trial--a trial on an additional COVID booster. The ads have leveled up. (And yes I see the dissonance between my absolute unwillingness to buy a sweater and my total ease with having scientists test drugs on my corporeal form. What can I say? I need help! Perhaps help from a trial...)
The thing is, I am not really interested in most clinical trials on account of the fact that I'm already an anxious little hypochondriac and so do not need the additional stress of having to wonder if every little hiccup and tickle is just the by-product of having a body or the kind of side effect that they will eventually rattle off at the end of a prescription commercial. In general, I try to live my life as much as possible in the Not A Cautionary Tale column.
However, I would like another COVID booster because of said aforementioned hypochondria. And, you know, I've just been aimlessly feeling like it's time for another one. It's like when you're on vacation, just sitting around, and then look at your friends and say "Should we... should we do a shot?" It's literally that. I'm just walking around random medical facilities going "Should we... should we do a shot... in my arm... of a vaccine?" It's Shot O'Clock somewhere. Do I need one? No. My doctors says I'm caught up, the CDC says I'm caught up, and I've actually had COVID in the last few months so I should have a whole army of Aunty Bodies in there pouring boiling water over the castle walls of my immune system and whatnot.
BUT... this Instagram ad was like "Should we... should we invite over some more Aunty Bodies?" And who doesn't want more Aunties?! Let the Aunties form a prayer circle in my lungs! So, I clicked on it, I gave them my information, they called me immediately from a number that my phone listed as "SCAM LIKELY" and I picked up and gave an operator who was clearly not in this continent a general rundown of my medical history. All for more Aunties!!!
They were going to pay me to take a medicine that I have already taken and I wanted more of. Baby, my phone may say SCAM LIKELY, but the scammer here is moi.
At least that's what I thought until I showed up to the do the intake interview at a building with an interior design aesthetic that can best be described as "poorly disguised front for mob activities". The first floor was still under construction and had people milling about in hard hats and the third floor was outfitted like a medical office on the surface but had slightly askew details like a basket of cookies and chips, a complete absence of mask signage, and a wall poster made by WebMD.
After about 10 minutes, I was invited back to an exam room. Interestingly, the doctor wasn't wearing a mask or a lab coat but he did have a floppy bowtie on which I didn't quite know how to receive. Unfortunately for me, he had the intense but loopy energy of someone who wasn't going to let me leave without buying a timeshare.
Beloveds, there is nothing I hate more than Timeshare Sales Energy. I can't even get into it right now. I just have an allergy to it; it's in my medical file. The doctor sat down and told me that unfortunately the COVID booster trial just got pulled last night. "You know how IRBs are," he said with an eye-roll. Sir, I do not. Nothing I have ever done has been internationally reviewed. "But!" he said, "the good news is, there's a couple trials that you would be perfect for."
Baby, those Instagram Rumpelstiltskins played the long game but in that medical office, they had me against the ropes! It would have been different if I'd just rolled in there in a trial mood and said to the doctor "Whatcha got?" But I was specifically trying to get some sweet booster juice and those Rumpelstiltskins knew it! I had clicked on an ad which resulted in me leaving my house before 8 am Eastern Standard Time, and now I had to deal with being sold something I didn't want! Woe! Woe!
Anyway, needless to say, I ain't get no more Aunties. But, even though I didn't buy a timeshare, they did pay me $50 for my time. So who's the scammer now?!
Proud Husband Alert
Today David was formally installed as an Associate Pastor at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. He's so gifted at youth ministry, at helping people in all stages of their lives to find meaning and belonging, and at using creativity and joy as core aspects of his theology. In very David fashion, as part of his installation, he had a special children's chat where he used a confetti canon and a bubble machine to explain the Holy Spirit. What an absolute delight of a person!
Let's hang out!
In conversation with Zachary Zane for the launch of his new book, Boy Slut at Greenlight Books Prospect Park, Brooklyn - May 8, 7pm - REGISTER HERE
Going to my friend Chris Newcomer's birthday party - May 13 (this isn't open to the public but it is the EVENT OF THE SEASON)
In conversation with Chasten Buttigieg for the launch of his YA memoir, I Have Something to Tell You at Sixth & I, DC - May 16, 7pm - TICKETS HERE
Workshop reading of my new play Humble Yourself! at Azuka Theatre, Philadelphia - May 20, 11am - INFORMATION AND RESERVATIONS HERE
Random Thing on the Internet
This meme is very true.
You know how IRBs are,