Twenty-first Century Problems

“Twenty-first century problems.“

This is what I texted my dad, a retired pharmacist, when I sent him a recent photo showing signage requiring social distancing and mask wearing that was posted on the walls at a local establishment. 

“These two things may stay after all this,” he replied. 

I thumbed down.

“Maybe not masks but social distancing is here to stay.” I agreed with him on that.

I despise mask-wearing. I haven’t had to do much of it but have several times at the grocery store. But fortunately, I’ve been working from home and have laid low the past few months—like everyone else— limiting outside community interaction. I have a small circle, with my son, ex-husband, and a few close friends, one of whom lives around the corner from me.

So now the masks. 

I don’t like them. 

Recently, I had to borrow a mask from my friend and wear it into our local brew pub that was newly re-opened. Masks are now required to walk through the place and to stand at the bar while getting our growler filled, as well as to go to bathrooms. Masks can be removed at seats. 

So now there are rules to remember. I wore the mask, conscious of how it made the air inside it hot with my breath and the way the cloth felt touching my mouth and nose. I didn’t like it. I felt self-conscious and conspicuous, despite not being the only one wearing a mask. 

I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror while washing my hands. I didn’t like the look of the mask. It was cute though, with a small cherry pattern. Cute, for a mask. 

But I hated looking at myself in it. It felt wrong and I barely recognized myself.

“Thanks Rona!” This is what my son and I now say for fun as we try to keep our sense of humor about all things Covid. 

I looked down and away from the sight of me in the cute cherry mask. I felt a simmering annoyance. I felt resentment too.

I will do my part and respect requirements, but I will also be avoiding crowds and abstaining from mask wearing where possible.

So I rushed out of the bathroom to tell my friend at the bar I was leaving and having a bad mask moment. Mild anger rising, I hurried out of the brewery. I walked to my bike, pulling off my mask with one hand while simultaneously pulling the sunglasses off the top of my head with the other.

Mask now in my left hand, sunglasses in my right, I raised them to put on my face…and poked myself in the eye with them.

Sigh. I shook my head and thought: ”Go figure.”

Thanks Rona!

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