To the Editor:
The plague might be winding down, at least in the sane parts of the nation, but it still remains at the center of our daily preoccupations. To wear a mask or not to wear a mask, that is still the question.
And there are a great many other questions which are often the first focus of conversations. Instead of greeting a friend or acquaintance with, “Hi, how are you,” we tend to start off with, “When did you get your vaccination? Where did you go? How long did you have to wait?” If the person is shot-less and age twelve or older, then the only response is a look of profound pity or scorn followed by quickly walking away.
If the encountered person did get vaccinated, then the contest begins. “What kind of shot did you get?” If they got Pfizer and you got Moderna, or vice versa, and the vaccine is different from yours, then the only response is profound pity.
I relish telling people how, after a two-day blizzard, I had to drive an hour and a half to the Gloucester County Mega-site and stand in line outside in the snow for two hours before I finally got injected. Can you top that?
On a related note, how much thought have you given to the impact of Covid on haute couture? Really, when your destination is some potentially crowded indoor site, how much time do you spend deciding on which mask to wear with which outfit? Are you interested in color coordination, a theme (trains, dinosaurs, bicycles) or do you always play it safe and put on basic black? Is it too threatening or creepy to put on a heavy-duty N95 mask?
The omnipresence of masks has led to some surprising issues beyond the world of fashion. Have you noticed how many masks lie discarded in parking lots, on sidewalks or on the side of the road? Flattened, grimy masks now vastly outnumber the traditional beer can and cigarette butt composition of litter.
While it was once safe to pick up garbage during Hopewell’s Community Clean-up Days, is it ever safe to pick up potentially highly infectious masks? Should they be left lying on the ground waiting for natural decay? Do masks decay? Would it make sense to have the same trucks that pick up deer carcasses to also pick up used masks? Should the people who haul dead deer onto the pick-ups use tongs, extra-long-handled tongs, to snatch the masks off the ground? Should they be equipped with flame-throwers?
In the past, going out involved reviewing one’s checklist: money, credit cards, driver’s license, glasses, and phone. To that list has been added masks—just in case. Could the necessity of masks be the source of new nightmares replacing the one where you show up at school or work naked? Could the new equivalent nightmare be one where you go to Shoprite and, in horror, discover that you forgot your mask and everyone is staring at you?
Then there is the question of identifying other people. Wasn’t it remarkable that you developed the supernatural skill to recognize people despite seeing only half of their faces? What gave them away: Ugly clothes? Ungainly bearing? Wild eyebrows? Bad hair?
Regarding those folks to whom you have been introduced but have only seen from the eyes up, would you recognize them if their whole faces were showing? How many people do you wish would have kept their masks on now that you can see their whole face?
So many questions.
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