SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column - Commentary

The Man in the (not so) Iron Mask


January 15, 2021
Friday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
The other day, in my hurry, I entered a convenience store without my mask.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

Yes, it was a mistake. I pretty much always wear my mask in public. It makes me feel like a desperado.

Feeling like a desperado is a good thing, especially in this day and age when you can be completely wiped out by something that is 60 nanometers in size.

I have no idea how big a nanometer is, but I am guessing it is not bigger than a breadbox, which was the phrase my Mother always used to "relativize" the size of something. Things were either "bigger" than a breadbox or they were not.

When I was a kid I used to confuse "breadboxes" with "breadbaskets." When I would "box" with my Father, he would threaten to "pop me in the breadbasket."  I assumed that did not mean that he would stuff me in the "breadbox" above the refrigerator. But I could never be sure.

Does anyone still even have breadboxes? Or breadbaskets?

But I digress.

Anyway, I take COVID 19 seriously. Except that time the other day when I zipped into the convenience store.

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

But you know what else?

Without the mask I felt.......well, I felt........naked.

It was like I had forgotten to put on my pants or something.

Really, the last time I felt that weird was the time -a few years ago - I went out to check the mail in my jammies and I remembered I needed to get something at the store, so without thinking I got in the car and drove to the store and only when I parked the car in the parking lot did I remember that I was wearing my jammies.

I did not go into the store. It would not have been appropriate. It was not a big box retailer.

But I digress, again.

I actually felt unclothed without my mask. I've been wearing one (no, not the same one!!!!) for something like nine months now and it just feels a part of me.

Which leads me to wonder what I will do when (one hopes) we will go back to a world in which everyone no longer wears masks and we can shake hands again.

Really, I had never realized how ingrained shaking hands is. It's like dogs wagging their tails. In the PreCOVID era (10,000 BC to 2020 AD) if you didn't shake someone's hand, it was the height of disrespect. No fist bumps. No "air" shakes. No weird post disco body moves to signify we know someone more than a "head nod."

But I digress, again, again.

I've been thinking that maybe I'll just keep wearing the mask, even when everybody else decides not to.

What are the negatives?

Well, you have to coordinate.

Does my mask fit with the rest of my ensemble?

What kind of masks are the "other kids" wearing at work?

What does this particular mask "say about me" today?

What are the plusses?

Well, for one, I wouldn't have to worry about by yellow-toothed smile ever again. Heck, I don't even have to worry about brushing my teeth ever again. Just kidding, Dr. Arnie!

I wouldn't have to shave in the morning ever again. I mean, with a mask no one knows whether I have a five o'clock shadow or not.

Yes, I would still have to shave a couple of times a week, because otherwise the hair pops out and a facial Brazilian bikini wax becomes necessary. Even during COVID, there is something kinda gross about beards poking out around the edges of one's mask.

This could become the guys equivalent of that Alaskan woman thing where you don't shave between September and May. Think of the time I could save each morning. Not to mention the wear and tear on my sensitive skin.

What is another plus?

When I am wearing a mask, I can mutter to my heart's content and no one has any idea (assuming they are respecting my six-foot territorial exclusion zone) what I am saying or if I am saying anything at all.

My eyes could be bright and sparkly as always, but I could be completely questioning your heritage under my breath. You have no idea how much pleasure this gives me. Some shout when they get mad. That was my Father. But I am more like my Mother. I mutter.

It frequently happens when I am driving around. For some reason, the way other people drive or act as pedestrians, just seems to inspire me to mutter constantly. And to do so in the steel-cage protection of a moving vehicle in a wonderful thing. A mask is not quite as conducive to muttering. But it's better than if you could see my lips moving. Much better. For you and me.

And, I don't know about you, but I have reached the point in my maturity where I have multiple chins. A mask somewhat "masks" my rattling wattles. Which is also good thing.

So, although many of you are aching for the time you can tear off your masks once and for all as if they were a worn-out brassiere or a federally mandated personal flotation device, I am thinking I may just need to keep mine on.

Both for your sake.

And mine.




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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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