Unmasked: The new frontier
The new norm has rather suddenly stripped away the old one, and in doing so, stripped off our masks! So how are you going to feel about that? Come on, guys – you've been living through all these many months without shaving, and even if you haven't grown a beard, you've toyed with the idea. If you didn't actually grow one, it's probably only because of a lack of a hairy gene (wary hairy?). We did see all those stray whiskers curling around the edges of your mask (my own husband not only grew a beard, but in the absence of a barber shop, let his hair grow – until yours truly pointed out a massive infiltration of grey.) A nice upshot of all this beard-growing was the utter demise of the five o'clock shadow. Admit it, guys. You felt liberated! On the other side of the equation, though, were those little man-beard bumps and rashes that tended to incubate. Nothing like a mask to cut off air supply to your skin while supplying a nice bacteria-laden atmosphere.
I'm not certain, but I would be willing to guess that the new mask frontier is even more of an adjustment for women. What was it like not wearing lipstick for a year and a half, ladies? No point in putting on blush, either. What about earrings? Those pesky little ornaments easily got caught in masks strings, so you gave up wearing them, didn't you? Of course, your pierced ears have grown back together from lack of use, so putting on a pair of earrings now promises to be a torturous adventure. But wait! This was the perfect time for a facelift! We never saw your stitches and bruising, because you were hiding behind your latest designer mask.
Speaking of designer masks, an acquaintance of mine has been creating them at breakneck speed for some time now, and has earned a very good living doing so. There is, in fact, an entire industry now built around masks. I myself purchased a toothsome Mick Jagger mask for my granddaughter, a Rolling Stones fan. One wonders what will happen to this new industry. Maybe they'll enter into the political sphere. I can envision a Joe Biden mask with blinders attached, or a Day-glo Donald Trump complete with MAGA hat.
Anyway, if you were hiding a sneer behind your mask, say the one you couldn't contain that had to do with your neighbor's mid-life crises Porsche, or your best friend's unfortunately-conceived new hair style, you're fried. The mask is down, and as they said in Elizabethan times, the jig is up. We are headed for a new social reality and my guess is that we are going to have to work on our skills. The frequent question "How is your day going?' will need to be answered "Fine," but without the scowl formerly covered by your mask. You may even need to smile. Think about it.
As we contemplate a new world wherein we can no longer hide behind our masks, we might find ourselves beset by the age-old question – Who am I?
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