Charlotte Broussard, a 72-year-old COVID-19 patient in a Baton Rouge General ICU, wrote a note that gained national attention. "Get the dam shot," it said.

You could not miss this guy entering the food market Tuesday. He was like the poster child representing so many folks I’ve seen over the past year. And, you probably have too, depending on where you stand on the masking-to-save-lives issue.

This guy was wearing a scowl and little else on his face, even though there were a couple of signs at the door asking customers to wear a mask for the safety of their workers and others. Stores have this weird idea that more healthy people means their chances of turning a profit are better.

By the way, this was the same day that Gov. John Bel Edwards extended the statewide indoor mask mandate for another four weeks. It was a move the governor said was to protect the health of me and Scowl Man. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that’s the case. I will ride with them and not the folks that used to be headlines on The National Enquirer tabloid before the internet came around.

OK, maybe I was misreading him. Maybe he had a rash, medical or religious issues. Maybe he thought he was too handsome to hide his whole face. Maybe he had new teeth. Seriously, he has a right to oppose the mask mandate.

Maybe he was from the group that would debate you on the matter, then shake hands and have a drink with you later? Nah. If water is wet, I would bet the house he was an angry anti-vaxxer and anti-masker and all bets are off in a debate.

I was guessing that he was a full-blown member of the Baton Rouge brigade of the “government-isn’t-going-to tell-folks-like-me what-to-do.” However, I bet he drove to the store, probably wore a seatbelt, probably obeyed the traffic signals and speed limits. And he wore clothes and did not park in the handicapped parking slot. Nah, this was definitely a guy who didn’t want government telling him what do.

I bet he was going in the store to purchase meat upon which the government imposed unjust health standards to make it safe for him. He probably was going to get some canned goods that the federal government also stamped health rules on. Why would the government be so overbearing with all these rules that would protect him?

It was a small store so you couldn’t get out of the way of the tightening of his keep-the-government-out-of-my-life face. Nah, for him he wanted to show us that he was giving the middle finger to big government. You know he had the four-letter word followed by “you” loaded for our disapproving eyes.

If he didn’t want to save himself, his fellow Americans in the paper goods aisle, so be it. It was his choice, dammit. I wonder what he would have done had a someone had coughed on him — by accident?

You could see his neck straining as he continued on. Two young store employees seemed flummoxed by his disobedience of the mask requirement, but they were probably told not to say anything because this guy, or someone like him, might beat the crap out of them for asking that safety measures be followed.

It’s happened in Baton Rouge and around the country.

I began to wonder if this guy was so staunchly against government’s heavy hand, would he stand up against those in more than a few states trying to disenfranchise voters, mostly those of color, by installing rules that would allow government officials to throw out elections if they don’t like the outcome.

I hope to my God that neither he, a family member or friend contracts COVID-19. But, if so, would he be OK with the government not imposing rules that would mandate he get critical care for COVID-19 as soon as possible? My guess is he would want to be skipped past the guy with the broken leg.

I studied his face as he was leaving the store. He was still tense and seemingly combustible. He seemed somewhat distracted, though, probably disappointed even that no confrontation happened. For me, and probably some others, he fit the quote: “Some people are like clouds, once they are gone, it’s a beautiful day.”

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman, at

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