This Wimp’s Reason For Wearing A Mask

I ought to have your safety in mind when I wear my COVID-slowing mask in public.

That would be noble.

But I have a more gut-level motivation: Fear. Stark, naked fear.

Fear of COVID is in the mix, but it is way back in my subconscious.

Fear of getting my face slapped is right out there in front.

It started about three weeks ago. I developed what we used to call a cold, with could-be-COVID symptoms: A dry cough, fatigue, muscle/body aches, congestion, runny nose, and post-nasal drip.

And sneezing. More on that in a minute.

I am fully vaccinated (Pfizer). I didn’t get flat-down-in-bed sick. I just felt lousy for a few days. I stayed at home.

When symptoms eased, I went back to town.

But the congestion, sneezing and post-nasal drip hung around. That is nothing new. I have had seasonal allergies for decades. The seed-sprouting goldenrod near our house is a regular summertime trigger.

I put on my mask when I went to the grocery store for bread. As I reached for a loaf, I noticed a shopping cart beside me. In the cart was a cute little girl, a toddler, wearing a pink bow in her hair. Behind the cart was … well, there is no polite way to say this. Behind the cart was a LOT of woman, a large woman, much larger than I am, with a scowl on her face.

I sneezed. AH-CHOO! Right like that, without warning. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the woman’s left bicep flex in a fashion that would make a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker proud.

My mask fluttered, but held itself in place.

The woman glanced my way. I do not wear plain, old masks. I wear masks that I think are somewhat funny. It is my feeble attempt to brighten our COVID-masked lives with a little humor.

This mask has a toothy, crooked grin painted in white against a black cloth background. The mask grinned as I cringed in anticipation of what the woman would say — or do — when I sneezed near her Little Precious.

She said nothing. The bicep flex relaxed. In fact, her grim expression softened into something that could have been approval.

“I’m glad you have that mask,” she said, in a very, very measured tone.

SHE was glad?

I positively chortled as she, her cart and her Little Precious stalked around the corner of the aisle.

I dislike being slapped. I also dislike being punched, shaken, choked, throttled, forearmed, grabbed — any of the motions that go along with being in a physical fight.

I have been in fights. A lot of those “fights” were more shoving and pushing than flat-out punching. There were no winners, just testosterone-overloaded guys yowling and growling at each other.

But a few were flat-out fights. Fights hurt people. I have been substantially hurt even in the few fights that I “won.” And those were decades ago, when I still had hope of bouncing instead of crumpling if I were knocked down.

So I wear my mask out of fear that, if I sneeze, I will be slapped, or worse.

There are more serious motivations. I have read the conflicting conclusions about whether cloth masks do any scientific good at all:

¯ No: The COVID virus particles are small enough to be blown through the openings in any cloth mask.

¯Yes: But the virus particles aren’t blown out by themselves. Instead, they are attached to mucus particles and come out as aerosol droplets, big enough to be stopped by masks.

¯ No: But the particles are also blown out around the edges of the mask, particularly the top, so they do get out.

¯ Yes: But the particles that are blown out sideways are far less likely to infect others than particles blown out or exhaled with no mask slowing or redirecting them.

¯ No/Yes: Etc., etc.

Do the masks do any real good? I don’t know.

Here is what I do know: When I am wearing a mask, I am subconsciously more inclined to keep my “social distancing” of six feet or so. Whenever I remove my mask, I am reminded that I should wash my hands. When I talk with another masked person, I am more likely to stand a bit sideways, rather than directly face-to-face, shielding both of us to some degree.

All those things, the fear included, combine to tell me that I should wear my mask.

What about you?

If you are mature enough to read this, you should have sense enough to look past the hogwash and look at the facts, and make your own decisions accordingly.

Denny Bonavita is a former editor/publisher at newspapers in DuBois, Brookville, New Bethlehem and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: notniceman9@gmail.com


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