Dr. Anthony Fauci has been the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for more than 35 years. He has won the Ernst Jung Prize for his contributions to biomedical sciences, and then-President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. Despite the countless honors and accolades that he's earned during his literal half-century as an immunologist, he'd never been a write-in nominee for People's "Sexiest Man Alive"—at least not until this week.
The 79-year-old earned near-universal praise for his contributions to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and has become the "face of the federal response" to the pandemic, even though we don't always listen to the critical advice that comes out of his mouth. (Neither does the President.) But because three-quarters of the country are currently under some kind of stay-at-home order, our quarantine-driven thirst for steady leadership, or quiet competence, or just sustained eye contact with any human that appears on television has taken this admiration to a very strange place.
There are hundreds of Dr. Fauci-related products currently for sale on Etsy, including socks printed with tiny pictures of his face, coffee mugs, prayer candles, 'Dr. Fauci Fan Club' pins, and the inevitable 'Fauci Squad' t-shirts. His picture has been printed on doughnuts in upstate New York, and a Long Island clam restaurant has started serving Fauci linguini. He's also inspired at least one "love song," which I've admittedly been singing to myself for the past week, mostly while washing my hands.
Then there's that "Sexiest Man Alive" petition, which someone at People magazine actually had to respond to. “He has helped bring back 'must-see TV' to the masses, who are hungry for wisdom about how to best care for their family’s health and safety in this time of uncertainty," Dan Wakeford, People's editor-in-chief told Women's Wear Daily. "Smart is sexy, no doubt.”
And, because each passing day presents the opportunity for me to type sentences that have never existed before, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is currently taking pre-orders for a Dr. Fauci bobblehead.
"Bobbleheads are the ultimate honor, and we think Dr. Fauci deserves it given what he has done and continues to do for our country and the world in the battle against COVID-19,” National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum co-founder and CEO Phil Sklar said. “We received a lot of requests for a bobblehead of Dr. Fauci and are excited to be able to use the bobblehead to raise funds for a vital organization that is helping limit the spread of the Coronavirus while making people smile during these unprecedented times.”
Each miniature Fauci stands seven inches tall and the finished product will depict him in the gray suit-and-blue shirt combo that is familiar to anyone who has watched literally every one of his media appearances. Five dollars of each Dr. Fauci bobblehead's $25 sale price will be donated to the American Hospital Association in support of its 100 Million Mask Challenge.
They're expected to ship in July 2020, and for the love of all that is good and holy, we sincerely hope that life will be back to normal (or slightly closer to normal, or at least not pants-shittingly terrifying all the goddamn time) by mid-summer when these things reach our mailboxes.
Until then, we're hoping for the best, for all of us. Please continue to use your best judgement when it comes to leaving your homes, which is to say, try not to do it. Look for ways to do something nice for the healthcare workers and supermarket cashiers, delivery drivers, and mail carriers who live in your neighborhood. And let's all agree that we're not going to talk about that "Sexiest Man Alive" thing ever, ever again.
This article originally appeared on VICE CA.