The Masked Man

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The Masked Man

If you see me in the grocery store or the park, you will see that I am wearing a mask. Am I making a political statement? Definitely not! I am wearing the mask because I have a 96 year old grandmother who I care about, or because I want my country to be whole again, or I want life to get back to normal and am willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

In Hong Kong, 97% of the population have been wearing masks for months. Covid has been largely controlled there as a result. I don’t enjoy wearing a mask, but it seems a small inconvenience to prevent the spread of a viral and deadly disease. By wearing a mask, germ bearing droplets are stopped before they can contaminate the surrounding area. In fact, since my family started wearing masks, we have avoided the usual rounds of spring colds that often lay us low just before summer vacation.

We adopted the use of masks early on during the pandemic, and stepped up to the challenge of creating our own. Our first attempts were of the tied on variety, using dish cloths and old cotton fabric we had lying around. When we took these masks to town, we would spend countless minutes before entering a store wrestling with the strings, trying to get keep them from sliding off the back of our heads or getting tangled painfully in our hair. We didn’t want to take them off between stores for fear of never getting them back on again.

So we checked out other patterns on the internet and opted for elastic earbands. These were much more successful, but since we have a family with large heads and sometimes big noses, the patterns didn’t seem to be one size fits all. One of my family members sought out a steam punk designed mask from a costume supply site, only to find that it had open breathing holes that defeated the purpose of having a mask. He solved this problem by lining the mask with paper towels, and then found that the mask was so tight that his nose would turn bright red. This mask was relegated to the costume party box. Fortunately, in the meantime, we had found ways to adapt the mask design so that it would fit all of our different face sizes. Since we were stuck at home, the whole endeavor proved to be a creative use of time and provided plenty of laughs and entertainment.

Now the whole family is masked up. Do we enjoy wearing the masks around town? Not particularly, but it is no great hardship, either. Some family members have discovered that masks can be a great fashion accessory, since they can be made in any color. Fabric stores also sell a variety of homemade masks that can be matched to any ensemble. We come home and throw the masks in the wash and pull out a new color for the next trip to town.

It is unfortunate that masks have become needlessly politicized. If you are annoyed about being home from work or school, and you are worried about the economy and the future of the state, what does it hurt to put on a mask on the off chance that it might help? It doesn’t stop you from breathing or talking or laughing, and if there is some chance that it saves someone’s life, it’s thoroughly worth it. If you want to make a political statement, get a stars and stripes mask, or make one that advertises your favorite political candidate. If it bothers you to see others wearing a mask, just suppose how you’d feel if they weren’t wearing a mask and you find that they have Covid and have just given it to you.

So let’s erase the battle lines when it comes to masks and other Covid prevention methods. The grim reaper’s blade doesn’t distinguish between Republican or Democrat. If we all wear masks and social distance, we may soon be able to go back to work, to send our children back to school, to eat out at restaurants, and, yes, I may finally be able to spend time with my 96 year old grandmother. I will wear my mask as long as necessary. I do not wear it out of fear; I wear it out of respect for my fellow man, and I wear it out of love for those I care about.

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