Now We Gotta Wear Masks

Something I really haven’t been looking forward to has happened: we’ve been told that we all need to start wearing those gayass masks when we go out.

Ok, maybe they’re not so gayass, but they are a pain in the ass to have to remember to put on, and they’re hot when you do have them on. You also need to put them on in the mirror, since otherwise they won’t be straight or in the middle of your face. (Of course Keaton tells me I’m being seriously gay worrying about how my mask looks, but you don’t want to be walking around looking like an even bigger idiot than you have to. I’ve seen Keaton with his mask on crooked and he looks pretty dang lame with it on that way. Ok, major philosophical question: would you rather act gayass or look lameass lol? And Keaton does get what he himself would call all gayass by complaining about trying to wear a mask when you’ve got a beard.)

But the masks are supposed to keep you safe. I think. That’s what people tell me, although, if I understood what the mayor said on the TV a couple weeks ago, the real point of the masks is so we ‘keep our droplets to ourselves’ – meaning those ‘respiratory droplets’ (a polite term for a really gross thing) – don’t go all over the place when we cough or sneeze or, probably, talk. That I can understand. I mean, the last thing I want is to get anybody else sick, and we know that you can have the virus and never show any symptoms but still get people sick. So it’s just plain old polite to grin and bear it and wear a mask. I guess you can say that masks work both ways, and that they protect you from other people’s grossass droplets too, but I trust them less that way than the other way. I don’t think a little piece of folded-up paper or cloth is gonna protect me that much…but that’s certainly what people are saying.

And, like I say, it’s what the mayor told us to do…so I’m doing it.

There are some problems. The one that really annoys me is smiling at people (I mean strangers) like I normally do…only they don’t see you’re smiling and then I realize that I wouldn’t be able to see them smiling back at me even if they did figure out from my eyes that I was smiling at them. I think I already wrote that not a lot of people smile back these days anyway, but now the mask thing has gotten in the way of me smiling…and, if you ask me, people these days could use looking at a smiling face, even if it is only a stranger’s.

The other thing is that people look fuckin scary. I was walking across the garden on the way back from Keaton’s Friday night, and I see this figure in one of those bigass masks we’re not supposed to have and a hood pulled down well over its face because it was raining. It turned out to be my upstairs neighbor, but she looked like a fuckin dementor out of Harry Potter lol.

But it’s not only in the dark that people in masks look scary: the problem is you can’t tell what a person is feeling if you can’t see their mouth. It’s real simple to read a human being: corners of mouth up = happy, corners of mouth down = not happy. That’s where emojis come from. But now all you have is eyes and eyebrows to go by, and that’s hard to do at a 6’ distance. I mean, yeah, eyes are the windows of the soul, but you gotta be close to see into them. And if y’all think people shy away from smiling at strangers, you can imagine how they feel about eye contact. I’m not afraid to look people in the eye (it’s something Dad taught me), but I know not everyone’s like that…and nobody’s like that today.

I’m not sure what it is. I mean, we’re all in this together, and, if we’re walking around outside, the Lord is still being good to us and we’re still doing okay. So there’s every reason to be thankful and no reason to be so dang tense and unhappy. Right? Or is it that everyone is looking at everyone else as a possible source of infection? That’s pretty fucked up, especially now that we’re wearing these masks and keeping our social distancing up. But I think there are people out there who do view all strangers as potential enemies. That’s super fucked up if it’s the case. I wouldn’t treat anyone as though they were an enemy even if I knew they did have the virus. I’m not making myself out to be a saint or anything like that, but that is how I was raised. (And don’t forget I volunteered in a hospital for a couple years in high school. So maybe I’m just more used to the idea of being around sick people than a lot of other folks are.)

I gotta admit that I’ve been getting mixed information about what kind of mask to wear. I know that the mayor told everyone not to hog all the surgical masks (especially the N95 ones with the little plastic box thing you breathe through), because hospital workers need them. So we should wear homemade (or improvised) cloth masks. There was a dude selling them in the Kroger parking lot yesterday, so I reckon they’re not too hard to find. Only then I heard from somewhere else that a plain cloth mask might not be effective…although that might just be as far as protecting yourself is concerned. It’s still gonna block at least some of your droplets if you cough or sneeze. At least I think it would, although maybe the droplets are smaller than the weave of most fabrics.

So it’s confusing. Keaton’s had a supply of surgical masks (not the N95 ones, just the ones that look pleated in front and have elastics to go over the ears) for months now. “Just in case,” he said. So he’s been wearing a surgical mask when he goes out (which isn’t very often), and he’s given me a bunch too. I feel a little guilty wearing one, but I also suspect that it’s better protection than a cloth mask, and more hygienic, too, since you can throw it out and put on a new one. Plus don’t forget that I’m still working with two kids and Lucas, and I definitely want to keep them safe from anything I might be carrying. So the surgical mask probably makes some kind of sense in my case, although I’m also being super careful of keeping my distance from my pupils, and we’re still using hand sanitizer and wiping down our gloves and the balls with clorox wipes.

I got one big complaint about those surgical masks: they fog up your glasses. The sun finally came out today and I wore a pair of baseball Oakleys over to Lucas’ this morning. As soon as I got the glasses over the mask, they started fogging up. Then I bent forward and the glasses fell off – good thing I caught them on the fly. It’s not the end of the world or anything, but clearly those masks weren’t invented by someone who wore glasses lol.

That we should wash our hands a lot is old news by now, and I’ve been going through a lot of hand soap and paper towels. (I’ve been lucky and have been able to find them after the first crazy run of hoarding on them. I gotta admit that I still get a little worried about running out.) So y’all probably also know how you’re supposed to wash your hands for 20 seconds. But how do you know your 20 seconds are up? I found out from Cody that the way to do that is to sing the Alphabet Song. I timed it out using my phone as a stopwatch, and it comes out to 22 seconds. When I told Lucas that, he said that, when he was a kid, they taught him that he should sing “Row Row Row Your Boat” twice. I timed that out, and it came out at 18 seconds.

So that got me to thinking what other songs might work, but I’ve not had much luck. I first thought “Take me out to the ballgame” (what else lol?), but at 23 seconds that’s too long. Then I had the idea of the Tigger Song (y’all know, the one that starts “The wonderful thing about Tiggers is Tiggers are wonderful things”), but it’s too short at 15 seconds and too long to sing twice. (Keaton: “don’t put that in about the Tigger Song, it’s so fuckin gay, bubba.”) Someone else told me “Happy Birthday” was the way to go, but that comes out only at 14 seconds, so you’re better off with Tigger lol. I’ve been falling back on “Row Row Row Your Boat” twice, although I’d really like it if there were a more interesting song given how often they have us washing our hands.

So if y’all know of a song that’s exactly 20 seconds long, let me know lol.

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