The Wearing of Masks

Thanks to some crafty friends, I’m doing my best to stay lighthearted with my health-promoting masks. However, I won’t deny this simple fact: I hate wearing them. And yet, here I am, in the mix with everyone else, doing my very minor part to stop myself from inadvertently sharing anything in my nose or mouth that might get someone else sick (I hasten to add that I have no symptoms, but then like most Americans, I also haven’t been tested).

Yes, I get it: it’s for my own good and for the good of others.

That doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it, and I’m not. Every time I put on one of those masks–a fun one or a more functional, medical-issue one–I feel myself scowling: brows down, ends of the mouth turned down as well. I don’t like living in a world where we have to do such things. I feel angry, sad, and frustrated that our civilization is being turned upside down by random balls of proteins.

In some ways, I almost feel ashamed wearing a mask: like, what have we become? Are we really this sick, diseased, cursed? I don’t know, but I don’t enjoy the sensation. I don’t like having to conceal my face among others.

And yes, those of you who track such things can poke at me about my “privilege” all you want. Obviously if wearing a mask in public is the worst thing I have to worry about, I’m doing pretty well. Again, that doesn’t mean I have to like it. This is not normal. After 50 years of facing the world openly, I feel like I’m now moving about like a criminal. Indeed, there are internet memes joking about the matter. When I’m in a better mood, I can even laugh at them.

But for now, I’m happier at home or taking one of my very long walks away from people, where the mask is not worn. I can be myself, not someone who needs to hide himself in shame or fear. In that mythical future, “when all this is over,” I look forward to facing the world unmasked, unafraid, unashamed. This is not a happy way to live.

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