Earlier this week former Vice President Joe Biden was photographed wearing a somber black facemask to a funeral, which as such things often do, drew comments from the peanut gallery— including the Peanut-in-Chief—about how the Democratic presumptive nominee didn’t look his best in the facial get up.
There is a major discussion out there about whether, when one is wearing a mask, you should try to look good doing it. Or be as somber as possible because, that’s what people do when they are making a sacrifice—and when lives are on the line.
It’s sort of the modern version of the wearing of the hair shirt in medieval times. One doesn’t wear the facial covering because it actually does some good (because who knows if it does) but because it makes one feel virtuous. Nothing beats the feeling of wearing a mask in a supermarket and catching someone who forgot his. Oh the joy of shaming!
Now, I’m not one of those who believes that wearing a mask is somehow a sign of being afraid. It’s just an act of evolutionary forward thinking. You want to survive to be able to spread your DNA, don’t you? You wear a jock strap because you want to preserve your genetic material, not because you revel in how it feels.
The mask fits into that category. It makes it hard to breathe. It’s hot and uncomfortable. It’s harder to see wearing it and easier to bump into things. So, on the one hand, it could get you killed or at least in a cast, or maybe attached to an EKG.
But wait a minute, Ross, the mask isn’t there to protect you, it’s there to protect others from you. Well, shoot, that isn’t nearly as great then, is it? I could buy an N-95 mask, which is definitely about protecting the wearer from microbes—and accomplish both ends.
But even if wearing the mask potentially saves lives, how different is it from putting on a seat belt, or wearing a hard hat in a construction zone? Would anyone think any the worse of a construction worker who decided to jazz up his hard hat with maybe a flouncy peacock feather or festive animal stickers?
Does it make any difference why I wear it, as long as I do? Must I be virtuous and only pick boring, unattractive models that don’t set off my blue eyes? What is wrong with making a fashion statement? The face mask or covering is so close to the neck that it practically begs to be given the same treatment as a necktie.
Some would argue you shouldn’t because it takes away from the seriousness of the thing. These are people for whom seriousness is a sign of duty. Someone whom they consider their superior has given them a directive and they must do it because following orders is what right-thinking people do—and to hell with whether the orders make a lick of sense.
That light of reasoning certainly doesn’t seem to have convinced women, where you see very flattering and flashy facial covering designs on the internet interspaced with bikinis.
America has always had a puritan streak that says one must never mix necessity with pleasure. Some might say, “You’re not doing this for your own amusement or pleasure, you are doing it for the children.”
Ah there it is, the children. Everything we do must always be for the children, even when, as is the case of COVID-19, the children couldn’t be farther from the point. In all of San Diego County, only about 100 children under the age of 9 have caught it, and none of them have died.
So, really, the reason we must wear the mask is for grandpa and grandma, but we’ll say it’s for the children, because when do we ever do anything for extreme senior citizens? Since I’m knocking on that door, I guess I’m wearing the mask for myself after all.
So, if I want to wear something festive, or make a political statement while giving myself a wheeze attack and running into walls, is that OK with you?