Remember Your Roots and Keep Them Colored

Becoming fluent in ‘mask’

By Trena Eiden
Posted 8/6/20

When it comes to the virus we’re enduring, we have decisions to make. Do we call it the corona, Wuhan, COVID-19, simply Covid, Chinese, just virus or, like most Wyomingites, “This …

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Remember Your Roots and Keep Them Colored

Becoming fluent in ‘mask’

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When it comes to the virus we’re enduring, we have decisions to make. Do we call it the corona, Wuhan, COVID-19, simply Covid, Chinese, just virus or, like most Wyomingites, “This crap?” (That’s a word substitute.) Should we wear a mask, which mask, where should we get it and who do we listen to for mask advice?

Masks come in many styles and it’s difficult to discern the best. A few manufacturers are selling lacy, nylon numbers that resemble a purchase made at Victoria’s Secret — not by me, let’s not start a rumor. We’re told only N95 is safe, then a different expert says it doesn’t matter as long as something is covering our face. A few of us, not gifted with good looks, realize mask-wearing is a real asset.

When all this started, I stole a red, paisley-print bandana from Gar’s underwear drawer. I folded and pinned it, and using rubber bands, wrapped it around my ears. It was a handkerchief over my face and the only way it could have been less protective is if Gar would have trotted along beside me with his hand over my mouth. He’s wanted to … along with a pillow. My homemade device wasn’t snug enough because while breathing, my glasses fogged over. At one point while grocery shopping, I had to put my hand out like I was legally blind and searching for the dairy section. It muffled my speech to such a degree, I couldn’t even understand me, much less expect a clerk to. Basically, Charlie Brown’s teacher was out of the classroom. Soon, employees were able to decipher much better, and could go on to become professional interpreters. Bilingual in English and Spanish, they’re now fluent in “Mask.”

While wearing my mask, I could scrunch up my eyes and people thought I was smiling. I wasn’t. I was sneering, but by wrinkling up my covered nose, no one was the wiser. Now, when seeing someone crinkling their eyes, you’ll always wonder, “Are they smiling behind that facial covering, or do they hate my guts?” I certainly wouldn’t ask.

At one point, our son got us heavy paper masks and the first time we put them on, I recoiled and gagged. Texting our boy, I griped, “You could have got us some that didn’t smell like the inside of a cow.” He comically fired back, “You’re lucky you got what you did, you unprepared mouth breathers.”

I no longer cover my face every time I’m out. Winter is over, the sun is shining, and our goal of not overwhelming hospitals was successful. I will tell you though, I dearly loved wearing a mask, especially the red hankie, which I referred to as my, “Bandito Incognito.” I felt a little on the shady side, as though I was prepared to rob a stagecoach and lift baubles from Ruby Jean’s handbag. I’ve never been the kind of person to chase down a team of horses, so stealing from a wagon would be a stretch, though probably not as far as the actual “chasing” part.

One benefit of wearing a face covering is people don’t expect you to talk to them as much and that’s a real win. The hardest part is, as soon as you put a mask on, your nose itches, but we aren’t, on threat of death, to touch our face while in public — or our butt, I’m told, but that’s a really old rule.

A recent investigation concluded that a good option to guard against typical size viruses and bacteria, 0.3-1.0 microns, is to utilize vacuum bags. If Gar was feeling particularly brave, he’d affirm, “She might as well. She doesn’t use them for the vacuum.”

Last spring, I carried a wicker hamper into the small RV laundry facility, sorted two loads and saw there was only one washer available, so I filled it and put the remaining clothing back in the hamper. As I was placing it onto the car seat, a gentleman who was going in as I was coming out, called to me, “Is this yours?” Turning, I saw he was holding one corner of my washable feminine item I’d obviously dropped. Being bright colored and similar in shape to a mask, I’m certain that’s what he thought it was. My gut tightened, and fighting to suppress a guffaw, I thanked him, but let him believe what he thought he knew to be true. Believe it or not, truth is stranger than fiction. I’m like a Ripley’s exhibit … me and the two-headed calf.

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