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.