Mask Madness


Now you wear it, now you don’t. The messages we received at the start of this dreadful coronavirus pandemic were mixed. Today, wearing a mask in public is a must. You don’t leave home without it. It is in a way your American Express card to acceptability.

Doctors tell us that wearing a face mask lessens our risk of getting infected, or for that matter infecting someone else. At first, it was strange to see a person with a mask in the grocery store. Soon it became a necessity, so I wanted to purchase some. That was very difficult, because they disappeared the minute they came into the store.

A friend emailed me saying that he had hit the jackpot, when he bought the last two masks at Shoppers Drug Mart for an exorbitant amount of money. That was the highlight of his day.

So began my research into mask shopping. There were various kinds – disposable, reusable cloth ones, some with a nose wire and filter pocket, the no-sew variety, all quite different from the surgical masks, and of course the N95 respirator masks used in hospitals.

The problem with mask wearing is that you can’t see facial expressions. One bright person made a mask with a see-through clear insert, and did that make a difference when teaching. A friend who gives piano lessons showed me a clear plastic one that actually has a chin rest!

Masks can be a nuisance, because your words are muffled, and people can’t always hear you speak. So, you have to raise your voice and repeat yourself. If you wear glasses, they can fog up rather quickly with each breath you take.

Creative people with a sense of humor have pictures and words on their masks. “Can’t see your smile” said one. Another said, “Like a good neighbor stay over there.” The one that made me chuckle said, “If you are reading this, you’re too close.”

My search ended when I discovered that a parishioner was making cloth masks and selling them three for $10. What impressed me, was that all the money was going to charity. I was touched by her generosity of spirit and bought several in different colors and prints.

Was I a fashion statement when I walked into church one Sunday, with a turquoise blue mask, top and skirt. The usher who welcomed me said, “All matching’ with a grin on his face.

On another occasion, coming out of church, a fellow parishioner looked at me and said, “Zorro.” I laughed in response. I only realized later on that Zorro’s mask only covered his eyes and not his nose and mouth. I was no Zorro, not that I planned on being one.

Then there are the funny signs warning people about entering a store minus a mask. One read, “If you come into the store without a mask, we will have to take your temperature! P.S. We only have rectal thermometers!”

On a holy note, a biblical prophet who had to cover his face was Moses. In Exodus 34: 29-35 we learn that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the ten commandments, his face was radiant from being in the presence of God.  He had to put a veil over his face because the people were afraid to come near him.

Perhaps you can imagine my excitement going to Mass when the churches were first opened for worship after many months. I was longing to receive Holy Communion, but something funny happened that day. You see, I love to wear long, dangling earrings.

As I stood in front of the priest, I forgot the protocol, and when he said “Body of Christ,” I replied “Amen” while trying to take off my mask and consume the host. Alas, my mask got tangled in my earring and glasses. The sacred moment was lost in the confusion, and instead of saying the “Anima Christi” like I normally do as I walk back to my seat, I said quietly to myself, “Vanity, thy name is Viola.”

The moral of this story is, forget the fancy earrings, and for that matter lipstick too, when wearing a mask during these crazy Covid-19 days.

Viola Athaide, a student of Theology, is actively involved in parish life, leading Bible courses, the Prayer Group, and the Ministry with Maturing Adults.

  • Friederika Priemer
    Posted at 04:53h, 22 October Reply

    Thanks Viola for that great and humorous article!

  • Sylvia Lee
    Posted at 09:18h, 22 October Reply

    Thank you Viola for sharing your true story and it’s the reality, the new normal for all of us to wear face masks. Definitely, the face masks are and will be part of our fashion for some time, maybe for a couple of years.

    It’s good for us to wear a face mask so as to protect other people. A face mask, therefore, shows a sign of warm caring for others if everyone is wearing one. What a kind and protective piece of fashion !

    May God bless every individual for wearing a face mask. Stay safe and healthy !

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 09:41h, 22 October Reply

    Thank you Viola! Such a mundane but practical topic, of which you so delightfully brought forth humour. I wonder when we will be weaned off masks. Maybe years! Who knows!

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 11:37h, 22 October Reply

    Thank you Viola!

  • Linda Rego
    Posted at 12:26h, 22 October Reply

    Thank you Viola, you made me smile today. Yes masks are a pain. I refuse to buy them. I make my own and for anyone who wants one. I won’t sell them though, they will be free from me. I wished we lived closer, I would gladly sew you some. 🙂

  • Lalita Figueredo
    Posted at 12:33h, 22 October Reply

    Viola, I smiled when reading your post on wearing a mask! I’ve got a suggestion for you for when you receive the holy host in your left hand – lift it up with your right hand and just lift up the lower end of your mask with your left hand, and receive the host on your tongue and re-cover your chin..that’s all! Works so well for me!

  • Susana P Que
    Posted at 14:15h, 22 October Reply

    Thanks for the nice article Viola…it smile…although from our doctor’s point of view, it is still safer and more comfortable to use surgical masks…

  • Lorella D'Cruz
    Posted at 20:22h, 22 October Reply

    We have to engage with humour in this Covid era which shows no quick end in sight, and you have done so in the most delightful way!

  • janet
    Posted at 23:32h, 22 October Reply

    Mask fashion is the new norm. Thanks for the chuckle, Viola.

  • Edlyn de Souza
    Posted at 11:10h, 23 October Reply

    Am sure Fauchi, Tam, Elliott and other could share some of your humor. Would make for greater compliance; though the cosmetics industry might give you nasty looks. Good job, Voila!

  • Rosa Scarpino
    Posted at 15:56h, 23 October Reply

    Nice sense of humour. Let us continue to smile even though people cannot see it. God bless you Viola, Rosa.

  • Tonis
    Posted at 18:11h, 26 October Reply

    Too funny but with life lessons in a new world, take care, many blessings and thank you for sharing, silvia and tonis

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