(Atlanta) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that in a unanimous vote, they have awarded the title of “Pandemic’s Most Annoying Person” to a uniquely deserving individual: Brad Buttons of Kenosha, Wisconsin. This is the first – and the CDC hopes last – time this honor will ever be bestowed.
When asked why Brad was selected to be this year’s recipient, a CDC spokesperson explained, “Frankly, we really had no choice. The more we learned about this exasperating fellow, the more obvious our decision became.” When pressed for details, the spokesperson went on, “Ever since the pandemic was announced in March 2020, and people were asked to socially distance and wear masks, Mr. Buttons has stayed home, in his one-bedroom apartment, and maintained a rigid self-imposed quarantine.”
Asking why this qualified him to be selected as the pandemic’s “Most Annoying Person”, the spokesperson added, “Well, it’s just that he’s always taking on an endless number of projects to learn new things and make the world a better place. He’s like a machine. To be honest, if you spend even just a few minutes around him, it’s impossible not to become irritated. We’re only human.”
In issuing its 15-page press release explaining its decision, the CDC listed dozens of feats Brad has achieved in the past year to alienate normal people. For starters, during the pandemic, Brad has read the entirety of Wikipedia, learned three foreign languages (plus Klingon), and written two science fiction novels. “Who does that?”, the spokesman asked, clearly perturbed.
When reached for comment, Brad was putting the finishing touches on his handmade full-scale replica of Michelangelo’s David, using nothing but seashells he found on the shores of Lake Michigan. “I’m thrilled about this prestigious recognition by the CDC, but I really don’t feel deserving,” Brad humbly responded. He then returned to his garage to resume work building an authentic 1967 Austin Healey 3000 SL which he learned to assemble just by watching YouTube instructional videos. “I didn’t have most of the tools I needed, so I scrounged up some scrap metal and built a blast furnace. Check out this lathe I made.”
When asked how he has had time to do all of these things, Brad replied, “It helps that I have no friends. When the pandemic hit, I decided to read the ancient Hindu holy text, the Rigveda – in the original ancient Sanskrit. I thought it would be more of a challenge that way.” A tour of Brad’s apartment revealed an extensive collection of Star Wars action figures, as well as what looked to be replicas of famous artwork.
When asked where he purchased his reproductions of paintings by the masters, including Da Vinci, Monet and Van Gogh, Brad explained, “Oh, no, I didn’t buy them. I painted them. I learned by watching old Bob Ross videos. I have to say, getting down Da Vinci’s Sfumato painting technique for softening the transition between colors took me a few tries to master.”
In the past year, while most people have hunkered down on the couch in their pajamas, eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream by the carton, Brad has been keeping busy. Disturbingly busy. Brad penned an Italian opera (because doing it in English was not enough of a challenge, he said). He also invented a machine that turns urine into potable drinking water.
Prior to the pandemic, Brad’s diet consisted mostly of drive-through fast foods. But in the past year, he’s dropped 230 pounds (he’s now a lean 155 pounds with six-pack abs). He’s even self-published his own cookbook, The Pandemic Chef, and has put out a series of 25 one-hour home fitness videos based on an exercise program he created in his spare time.
In the CDC press release citing Brad’s exhausting list of discoveries, publications, and inventions, it accidentally failed to mention that he also patented a fuel converter contraption that converts water into a non-polluting fuel able to power any car, plane, or deep space probe. “Actually, all you need is urine. Want me to show you how I do it?” Brad added.
The release went on: “Taken together, it is almost unfathomable that any single individual could accomplish all of this and still find time to find a cure for cancer, but this man did it. That’s why the CDC unanimously concluded that Mr. Buttons is far and away the most annoying person we’ve encountered since the pandemic began.”
The CDC’s decision was applauded by millions of Americans – and Brad’s own immediate family, who have unfriended him on Facebook because they are sick of reading about his achievements.
The overall sentiment of most Americans who remain trapped in their homes binge-watching Netflix crime documentaries and past seasons of Schitt’s Creek was perhaps best summed up by David Wilkinson, a bartender from Brooklyn, who protested, “Dude, just stop!. You’re making the rest of us look bad. Here’s an idea: How about you invent a spaceship and become the first person ever to fly solo to Mars. Then plant a flag and NEVER COME BACK!”
Upon hearing that he’d won the award, Brad was said to be so excited he began an awkward victory dance. (Dancing is one activity Brad failed to learn – badly.) In the process, he tripped over his just-finished replica of an 18th century tall-masted ship in a bottle, fell, and broke his ankle and the ship in a bottle. Not salvageable.
Due to his unfortunate injury, it appears Brad will be laid up, unable to work on any more projects, for at least three months. Millions of Americans greeted this news with celebratory dances of their own.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021.