“I’m afraid to open my mouth.”
A Soviet citizen goes to the dentist. He lies back in the chair. The dentist tells him to open wide.
“But I’m afraid to open my mouth,” he replies.
The old joke has a new resonance in the age of lockdowns and masked pedestrians, cancel culture and self-criticism sessions when Americans are the ones fearful of opening their mouths. Fear is the common denominator. A nation has spent the year holding its breath. And waiting.
Americans used to laugh at Soviet anecdotes without really understanding them. Now Americans are too afraid to laugh because they are coming to understand them all too well.