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Life is a Masquerade
Now that wearing masks in public is the "New Norm" now and for many months to come at least, it was foreseeable that a new fashion craze would emerge...or if not exactly emerge, be foisted upon the public whether we like it or not. I'll be the first to admit that women wearing masks are, shall we say, titillating. We might also say mysterious, fascinating, dangerous. One of the first things I noticed is that some people who you used to know perfectly well before they began wearing a mask don't recognize you in your own mask, forcing them to squint in puzzlement as they try to summon your identity from the recesses of their by-now over-packed cerebral file cabinets. Admittedly, owing to my surprisingly advancing senectitude, which apparently happened all at once without my knowing it while I was napping on the couch one day, and my lacking a lung due to a surgical ritual conducted when I was a mere polywog (I use the word "ritual" in this context because such surgery is largely held to be barbaric by today's standards. Well, it was after all mumbledy mumble years ago.) I and Our Lady of the Perpetual Tennis Visor began wearing masks when venturing out into the wicked and dangerous world even before it became the law. It wasn't much of a fashion craze then; we saw only one person, a Japanese lady who probably had the flu, wearing a medical mask. I happened to have a few masks left over from the volcano pollution and my trips to Australia when it was burning down. (In Sydney last December the smoke from the fires was literally pouring into my hotel room through the air conditioning vents!) And, of course, in the old days, never to return again, undoubtedly, there was always an N95 mask conveniently packed with every weed whacker and chain saw you bought--which over time proved many, due to the basic free-market credo: a business, in order to succeed, cannot rely on first-time triers but must be capable of cultivating repeat buyers over the long haul. (It says so in a textbook I wrote, so it must be true). Maybe it's just my suddenly advancing senctitude but it does seem to me that perishability is built-in today in almost everything we buy these days, compared to, you know, the "old days." (Ironically, it's old people who constantly refer to the "old days" which, in fact, were, relatively speaking, their "young days." Go figger.) Anyway, back to the neoteric fashion craze. My favorite grocery store cashier wears an alluring tropical scenery mask with a picture of a cockatoo sitting on a tree branch in the jungle. Others, I see, wear camouflage design masks, as if they are heading out to war, and still others, polka dots as if heading for a Polish wedding, or plaid, as if they made it out of a Scotsman's kilt. Many, obviously, are merely complying bregrudlingly with the law, by wrapping a bandana or scarf around their face on their way to the liquor department. I've even seen a person wearing a coffee filter. Well, it's legal, if, shall we say, comparable to using a squirt gun to put out an exploding nuclear plant in Chernobyl. On the subject of masks, there's an interesting article on the internet comparing the effectiveness of various mask-making materials based on efforts to combat an epidemic in Mongolia. Coffee filters came in last. Cloth masks especially bandanas and scarves weren't much better, except for pure 100% cotton masks consisting of a minimum of 30 layers. Haven't seen one of those yet. If you spot someone looking like the Elephant Man in Costco, that's someone who read the article. As for me, as I mentioned earlier, I just do the construction worker and volcanic smog masks leftover in our pantry, really really unfashionable, if not downright pathetic. If life is a masquerade, I won't be getting many dates. In fact, when I was a wee lad there was an actual song on the boring radio station my parents listed to, that had the very same line "Life is a Masquerade." Not all the songs were boring, actually, there was "Fever" by Peggy Lee and who can forget "Tammy" by...er, Debbie Reynolds? or was it Connie Stevens? I could Google it, but who has the time? I have to go put my mask on.
When my Dad died Mom put a cigarette in his hands while he was lying in his coffin, because, she said, it was his wish, so he would always have a cigarette in the afterlife he believed in. An ironic thing, I thought. My wish is, if the virus comes for me, don't put a mask on my face. Just play something with Pavarotti singing, like "Una Furtiva Lagrima," or maybe even one of my own songs like "Give Me Comfort."
If It comes for me.
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