Unless you’re prepared for flying mashed potatoes and/or red faces with raised voices, I recommend not broaching the topic of mask mandates at your Thanksgiving table. For some reason, the topic seems to draw a visceral response from just about everyone. But let’s zoom out for a moment and take a lighthearted look at this guest that has overstayed its welcome. 

So, to begin, I have this fantastic idea… a new version of the ’70s game show, The Dating Game—COVID Mask Style. The eligible bachelors are visible but wearing face masks the entire length of the game. When the contestant asks a slew of questions laced with innuendos, they answer through a medical mask that muffles about 50 percent of their words.

“Bachelor number two, what is your idea of a romantic evening?”

“Well, Sally, that’s a berry gmoomd tuestionh. First, I’d pitch you up in my Jaagyaar. Nest, I’d take you for a loubly camternight dinmeohr. We woot tach a watchk through the shitty and in the end, I’d ashk for a soft kish.”

“Uh, okay? I think.”

Cue the canned laughter.

Now, I recognize there may be some sound clarity issues, but I’ll ensure the mics on the bachelors are turned way up, don’t you worry. Moving on, question after question is asked until one lucky individual is chosen to take the sultry single out on an actual date. Then, cut to commercial before the big reveal. You have to keep them wanting more.

This would be a perfect opportunity for related businesses to advertise—weight loss programs, Rogaine for him AND her, Zolambalta, or some sort of strangely named medication that has a laundry list of side effects. And then—back to the show:

“Sally Mae, are you ready to meet your bachelor?!”

“Why yes, Chuck, I am.”

“Bachelor number three, will you take your mask off, please?”

The camera zooms in on the female contestant’s face the moment her chosen bachelor’s mask is removed, and based upon her reaction, the audience can tell if she’s pleased or disappointed. Evil, I know. But, really, we all know it would be fascinating to watch. What could be behind that mask that would change her opinion? Enormous buck teeth? No teeth? A Hitler-mustache? A face longer than a horse’s? A nose the size of an anteater’s snout?

Which leads me to an actual mask situation I found quite curious.

 A friend of mine had to hire a contractor for a larger bathroom project. With masks on, they went through the whole estimate with back and forth on needs and wants of the project. Once hired, and things were in motion, the contractor was working in the bathroom one day and had his mask off for the natural need of breathing, of course. My friend entered the bathroom to ask about a certain tile brand they had previously discussed. His answer revealed a mouth the likes of a jack o’ lantern recently carved. Every other tooth was missing. This came as a shock and brought up an interesting question: Would she have chosen him as her contractor had she seen the state of his mouth prior? Alternatively, the contractor probably loves the idea of mask mandates as it disguises his troubled teeth—I’m assuming a personal reality he’d prefer not to live with.

Speaking of mask appreciation….

I have found putting on a mask has served several positives in my life. First and foremost, the mask has protected me from foul-breathed close-talkers. I no longer must walk casually backward a step at a time due to my trusty breath-blocker. Also, ironically, the mask hides the acne that it creates on my face due to moisture from approximately eight hours of wear per workday. And forget about lipstick. Who needs that extra step in the morning? Can I get an “Amen,” sisters?

My trusty mask has also saved me from having to sing at a church service I recently attended to appease family and eliminate guilt. I didn’t even have to move my lips and pretend like I did when I was a kid! The airport mask mandate has been my favorite form of freedom. I now can sing as loud as I’d like without people wondering what’s wrong with me.

Then there is my work. As a teacher of preschoolers, I’m one of the lucky ones who must wear a mask as long as I’m in the building—as mandated by Jefferson County School District. About 90 to 100 times a day, I hear the question, “Miss Sandy, can you help me put my mask on?” Actually, it’s become so routine, they’ll just make eye contact with a mask in hand, and we all know what needs to be done. In this environment, the mask protects me from impromptu sneezes and morning cereal breath. In turn, it defends the little squishies from having to experience my all-day coffee vapors.

At least five times a day one of my little munchkins will approach with a dripping mask, “Miss Sandy, my mask is wet, can I have a new one?” You see, the lazy boogers that once drained from their petite noses in two thick strips like bulbous green caterpillars, now saturate their mask. Or, as I’ve seen most recently, some preschoolers enjoy sucking on the fabric. Not many things make my stomach lurch, but there is something about a sopping mask that causes me to turn my head and gag. But I’m an adult and kindly assist the sweetie with putting on a new, dry one. Throughout the day, elastic straps will fall off their delicate mouse ears and I’ll have to say, “Can you put your mask back on, sweets?” My favorite response is, “But it smells stinky.”

Yes, masks are a part of our lives for the now. They are not anything we ever expected to have to endure. According to many, they are a necessary evil to help eradicate the spread of the big Ol’ VID. Others believe they aren’t necessary or cause more harm than good. And because of the lovely world wide web, there is evidence to support both perspectives, depending on where you look. I’d prefer not to publicly express my opinion, for I am just a simple writer sharing my observations.