Mask of Mortification

I wasn’t going to say anything about it. I wasn’t going to talk about it. I wasn’t going to write about it. And yet, here we are. I am going to talk about *hard swallowing noise* – COVID! I know, I know, we are all “Covided out” (meaning: sick and tired of hearing about, talking about, listening about Covid!) However, the reason I am writing about Covid is not really about Covid itself, but the subsequent dangerous and destructive side effects of this disease. I am specifically referring to the wearing of the PPE (personal protective equipment) a.k.a. THE MASK.

THE MASK has become the latest accoutrement and, dare I say, fashion accessory of the year. I myself have a few viable variations of said facial gear.

There is the 3 ply disposable version found in your friendly neighbourhood hospitals. They have a thin metal strip on the inside to ensure you can fold the mask to fit the shape of your nose and the cotton strings that rip right out of the mask as you try to remove this illness barrier off your ears.

hospital mask – 3 ply

There is the 2 ply cotton version with the mesh coating. I have a lovely white one which makes me a wee bit squeemish as it reminds of a pair of children’s tighty-whitey underwear. It is a softer alternative to the paper hospital mask, however, the fine fibres usually end up being inhaled into my nasal cavity thus causing excessive nose twitching or, the more egregious offence of sneezing…in public. Let the Witch Hunt begin!

2 ply mask (tighty-whitey)

There is the 1 ply stretchy version with the stitch down the middle. No metal nose clamp and easily washable and dryable. Probably not nearly as safe at blocking out the Covid as the other two, but c’est la vie!

one ply mask

No matter which mask I prefer (am forced) to wear, there is something they all have in common. Not only do I find that my breathing is impeded, but my sight immediately degenerates as well. Mind you, this incident only occurs when I find the need to exhale. (Statistically speaking, this occurs every 2 seconds as the exhale dutifully follows every inhale). With the exhalation comes a foggy mist on my eyewear thus creating the sensation of walking through a cloud and no foggy idea what’s ahead of me.

Inhale. Exhale. The fog rolls in.

When the whole “mandatory mask wearing” thing was announced I did not realize how debilitating it would be for me. Here is what my first Masked Shopping experience was like.

Me: (fitting mask on face and walking into store)

Me: *gasp* (jump up startled) as someone was standing there to greet me. How did I not see them?

Me: (attempt not to breathe so much to ensure clearer vision. Start to see stars. Grab shopping trolley for support. Back to regular inhaling and exhaling and loss of sight.)

Me: Proceed to indecorously ram shopping cart into wall adjacent to the double sliding doors of entrance. Carbon monoxide vapour issuing from my PPE had once again clouded my sight. With a harrumph of exasperation I backed up my cart, lifted my glasses to gauge direction, realigned myself with the entrance and proceeded to drive the buggy into the store. SUCCESS!

The grocery store I had just entered is a bit more upscale. We regular folk like to jest that it’s the store for the Yoga Moms. You end up feeling pretty hoity-toity buying locally grown, organic produce and hormone free carnivorous delights. So there I was with my pretentious attitude, feeling like a quinoa / kale eating diva, ready to purchase healthful foods for my family. Alas, I had the Disastrous Demolition Derby Cart as my “modus transportationus”.

I drove slowly and cautiously through the bodega, raising my glasses occasionally to ensure I was on a safe path. I felt like a Yoga Mom until I maneuvered my trolley off the beaten path and down the fruit aisle. My shopping cart hit the metal post that housed the roll of plastic bags. CLANG! The post collided into the gorgeous display of green, Granny Smith apples. I held my breath and in doing so the mist on my glasses cleared, just in time for me to witness a row of sumptuous apples begin to cascade one by one from their comfortable perch onto the recently polished floor. I lunged forward in haste and staunched the impeding avalanche of apple suicide. Two of the succulent fruits managed to escape my grasp. Those I relegated to a different section of the fruit aisle in the hopes that someone would recognize the deformity and remove them from any future customer’s grasps. Although elated at my heroic save, I continued my trek, ashamed and wary.

I procured my cruciferous vegetables with nary a knock or a bump and my confidence increased. I boldly moved forward. Me and my trusty buggy full of Yoga Mom-worthy produce. I continued along to the seasonal fruit displays. I successfully wended around the watermelon section and was maneuvering between the strawberries and peaches when I felt a sudden jolt and twinge go up my arms. OMG! Glasses up! (Honestly, I was starting to feel like I was wearing a welding helmet.) A small basket of peaches that had been casually presiding on the corner of the table tipped over when I had unceremoniously rammed my metal Cart of Chaos into the corner of the table. It was a savage end to the stone fruit. I picked up each fuzzy peach and angrily situated them all back into the basket muttering my diatribe of, “stupid mask, can’t see anything, *mutter mutter mutter*”. At this point I was grateful that I was wearing the Mask Of Misery to ensure my secret shameful identity.

Now, you would think that after two such incidents I would book it for the checkout line and get the hell out of Dodge. Not I. I was in it to win it. Blueberries…last thing on my list. Having learned my lesson, I decided to remove my specs in order to reach my final destination and avoid any further fruit genocide. With my blurry vision I arrived at the final checkpoint and slipped my peepers back on to be able to pick a pack. I snatched up the little plastic case where the blueberries resided and, naturally, the clam shell box popped open and all the little blueberries went free-falling like little purple skydivers, landing and rolling around all over the floor. A voice: “It’s ok I’ll get that cleaned up.” Fog glasses raised, me smiling sheepishly inside Mask of Mortification (again, not be seen anyway). I muttered a thanks and walked away. I was not going to chance trying to pick up the sacrifices as I envisioned our heads bumping together as we both went down. Time to get out of Dodge.

I did not see the inside of that store again for 3 months. I also learned something very valuable during that time. If you push the mask up under your eyeglasses, the fogginess stays in the mask and not on your glasses. This is a public service announcement. You’re welcome.

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