Dear Pam: It’s Not That We Are Afraid to Die.

Catherine Pugh, Esq.
6 min readAug 9, 2021
The crowd catches Wes Borland’s guitar during the Lollapalooza music festival last weekend at Grant Park in Chicago. CREDIT: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images, NPR (Aug. 6, 2021).

Pam is a perfect example of why armchair PhDs can be fatal.

I read an exchange between my sister and her friends about the wisdom of hosting or attending potential COVID superspreader events. Take your pick: this Sunday’s 2021 Sturgis Rally, Day 1, Obama’s birthday party last weekend, yesterday’s Colorado Rockie’s Game, last month’s Lollapalooza. There are plenty to choose from, and they span the nation’s political, ideological, and race spectrums.

One friend — let’s call her Pam — was all-in for living our best lives. We should vax, we can wear masks if we want, and YOLO so lemme see you shake your tailfeather! In that typical anti-social distancing way, Pam argued against sheep mentality by loudly, you know, baaaaaaaaaaaa-ing.

Fans listen to a musical performance at Coors Field after the ninth inning of Sunday’s game. SOURCE: CNN (Aug. 9, 2021).

“I personally am glad [Sturgis] is happening!!” she said. “We are all a bunch of f…ing sheep. Yes the delta version is out there and yes covid can and will spread but, so does the flu, every year there is a new flu strain, I know that covid isn’t the flu but, I think we are being lied to and convinced the the world is ending and that if we just all get vaccinated then continue to stay home and wear a mask it will all go away. BS, it is here to stay let’s get back on with our lives, get vaccinated but live your life! Wear a mask if you want but, stop being afraid we are all going to die one day!”

To be fair — and punctuation demerits aside — Pam is vaxxed. And, ignore the strange logic in seeing those actively taking life-saving measures as disinclined to live life, and those eschewing life-saving measures as “living life.” Pam is a perfect example of why armchair PhDs can be fatal.

Every day, in every way, we perfect the balance between living full lives and living stable lives. We exercise or quit smoking or, as in the case of my fifty-plus year-old husband, decline invitations from our twenty-something menfolk for 3-on-3 basketball. We shave the edges off of our autonomy or freedom or flex, and use those shavings as currency to buy long-term peace of mind.



Catherine Pugh, Esq.

Private Counsel. Former DOJ-CRT, Special Litigation Section, Public Defender; Adjunct Professor (law & undergrad). Developed Race & Law course.