Bar Owner Defends 'Kiss Me, I'm Contagious' T-Shirts
If you saw a shirt, right now, in 2021, a year into the pandemic, that said “Kiss me, I’m contagious,” what would you think? Would you think it was a joke about COVID-19, or would you think, “Oh, contagious means fun. We’re fun. It’s a fun day.”
One bar owner is hoping you’d go with the latter.
Ian Murphy, owner of the Iron Pig Smokehouse in Gaylord, Mich., took some heat for distributing St. Patrick’s Day-themed shirts with that message on them at an event for about 300 people. Murphy said the shirts have nothing to do with the pandemic.
“A lot of people are quick to be upset about the conclusion of ‘kiss me, I’m contagious,’ about having something to do with COVID,” he said, according to KFI. “Frankly, that’s not really the case. [The shirt means] I’m contagious because I’m Irish, I’m fun, we’re having a good time. Contagious is part of being the life of the party.”
Even if we give Murphy the benefit of the doubt here, it's easy to see why the shirts are generating mixed reactions. A year into the pandemic, more than 500,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Making light of that, intentionally or accidentally, is probably not going to go over well.
It’s worth noting that, according to mlive, the Iron Pig Smokehouse began selling shirts last year that said "Risk it for the brisket -- BBQ with a side of freedom.” Murphy said he sold thousands of the shirt, helping his business stay afloat during pandemic closures. A judge cited the slogan when ruling that the restaurant violated local COVID-19 guidelines last year and had its liquor license suspended.
Murphy insists he doesn't mean any harm.
“This is just an opportunity for us to step back, have a bit of a good time, hopefully have a lot of laughs with hairy legs and good food...,” he told mlive. “Ultimately, it’s not trying to poke a stick in anybody’s eye about anything. We’re just ready to get back to normal and have a good time doing it.”