Who Is That Masked Man Gasping For Breath? Oh, It’s Me!
By Jerry Gervase
It finally happened to me. I’m dining on a burger and fries at an outdoors restaurant. I’ve been looking forward to the burger. No matter how I try I just can’t match a good restaurant burger at home. The fries are looking TV-food commercial-good.
On goes some salt. A little ketchup. I use my hands to bring the tasty potato strip to my mouth and … run it straight into my protective face mask. Yes, it has become so commonplace to wear a mask I forgot to remove it to eat. Fortunately, it is washable so I can remove the red ketchup swoosh that makes the mask look like a Nike product.
When the mask directive came down from on high I went to a medical supply store and sprang for a good mask that met the guidelines for protective equipment used by medical professionals. It was triple layered, with an adjustable strap to keep pace with my hair that was approaching Rapunzel-length while barbershops were on lockdown.
I was as confused as anyone about wearing a mask. Opinions about their effectiveness were changing faster than names for sports teams. Even Dr. Fauci couldn’t make up his mind. We had Fauci on masks: YES. Fauci on masks: NO. Then later he said everyone should wear a mask as “a symbol of correct action” and “it shows respect for another person.” Respect is good. Everyone from Mafia Dons to Rodney Dangerfield needs respect.
Also back in March the World Health Organization said people without the virus didn’t need to wear masks. In June the organization said everyone should wear one. Which means that now, WHO’S on masks.
My big issue with masks is that I’m asthmatic. I understand that’s an underlying condition that makes me high-risk if infected. It also cuts down on the amount of air I get to sustain life in its present form. I needed physical therapy last week because some recalcitrant upper leg and thigh muscles hadn’t bounced back after hip replacement surgery. The strenuous exercise regimen I went through was exacerbated by the need to distance myself way more than six feet from the therapist while I lifted the mask in order to gulp large quantities of air.
There are also cosmetic reasons I don’t like wearing a mask. I’m blessed with a more than generous nose. Once, years ago, I considered getting a nose job. When I went to a Plastic Surgeon for a consultation he said he didn’t have the skills to operate on two noses at the same time. He sent me to an automobile body shop. Fine job they did. Now when I wear my protective mask I look like the hood ornament on a ‘66 Pontiac. I blink my eye when I want to signal for a turn.
Hearing is a problem with masks. I have trouble understanding other people when they are wearing them. Even with hearing aids, the clarity just isn’t there. I was at Home Depot the other day, for some reason lingering in the lawn care department, when an employee wearing a mask asked me if I wanted to look at power mowers. I thought he said paramours. And asked who he had in mind. The conversation went steadily down hill from there. Home Depot’s slogan “How doers get more done,” was fraught with possibilities I hadn’t considered.
If you want to know the truth, I feel much safer wearing a mask. Regardless of what the experts recommend or don’t recommend, wearing one reminds me that we are living in dangerous times. I know you need to wear a mask to enter a store, unless you’re in Minneapolis, where all you need to enter a store is a brick.
If they ever reopen movie theaters I don’t think I can sit through a two-hour movie wearing a protective face mask. That sure would put a dent in refreshment sales. How can you eat a fifty-cent bag of popcorn that you paid $7.00 for if you’re wearing a mask?
Maybe I should think of masks as something superheroes and sports figures wear. Baseball catchers all wear masks. My first hockey hero, Goalie Jacques Plante, was the first goalie to wear a protective mask. Football players wear them. It’s the new normal. It’s just that the curmudgeon in me prefers the old normal when you could shake hands, give hugs, or even plant a wet one on the cheek of an old friend. Someday we’ll get back to those times. Perhaps sooner than later if we keep wearing masks.
Contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org