By Dan Haag
The last time I checked in with a column, it was nearly Valentine’s Day and 2020 was humming along quite mildly, thank you very much. Now, I look at the calendar and wonder what time/space-continuum I’ve wandered into since little Cupid fluttered his wings and flew away.
In case you’re wondering how I’ve been spending my time, it’s been a mix of finding new and interesting ways of setting the kitchen on fire and being terrorized daily by something called “Zoom.” I also learned that the wearing of pants isn’t as big a part of my daily routine as I’ve been led to believe.
Normally in this column I write about funny, relatable things like my wife being chased by a maniacal goat or me repeatedly falling down the stairs. You know, the type of things that resonate with discerning readers looking for hard news stories.
Now, I have to wonder: is there room for humor in today’s world? How can there possibly be anything to laugh at anymore with so much hardship and pain in every corner of our nation?
I recall a moment on Saturday Night Live in 2001, not too long after 9/11. As the first show back began, one of the cast turned to the mayor of New York City onstage and asked “Is it OK to be funny now?”
“Why start now?” the mayor replied simply.
It’s probably advice I should take to heart. As most of my readers already know, I’m about as funny as getting a tax audit while having major dental surgery. But, much like the auditor and the dentist, that doesn’t stop me from trying.
Which brings me round to the extremely humorous subject of today’s missive: face masks.
There’s been a lot of serious discussion about these unassuming little rectangles of cloth lately: Are they effective? When should I wear one? Does it make my hair look stupid? Where can I buy matching surgical gloves? My glasses have fogged over, who’s speaking to me?
Originally, I was torn on wearing one. After all, I really don’t need any further assistance looking silly when I venture out in public. I usually do just fine on my own. After precisely one trip to Fred Meyer in early April, I was completely on board with the whole program. I’m still haunted by the family of five who, sans face masks, stood behind me in the check-out line and repeatedly showered the back of my neck with sneezes. It was like sitting in the front row at Sea World when the dolphins slap their tails in the water to shower the audience.
Public health concerns aside, I also discovered a rather practical use for the donning of a face mask. As a man of certain age, a face mask allows me to hide the fact that my nose hair has grown at an alarming rate during quarantine. There are as-of-yet untouched jungles in Borneo that are easier to cut through.
I could go into all of the practical reasons to wear a face mask as listed by Oregon Health Authority and the CDC. To be fair, I could also include the arguments against, mostly coming from the same dozen or so angry folks who seem to pop up on every Facebook thread in existence. I actually saw people get into a heated argument over face masks on a Star Wars fan page I “accidentally” stumbled upon. The instigator seemed to be someone going by the catchy handle “stormtrooperguy7783.” I can assure you, there were no winners in an argument amongst a group of angry folks who were already self-quarantining in their grandmother’s basements waaaaaaay before the pandemic kicked off (present company excepted, obviously).
But a friend of mine recently gave the best reason for wearing a face mask: it is an act of love to everyone you know and those you don’t.
Simple, elegant, and accurate.
Nose hair issues aside, I wear mine because I care about the people in my life. On a household scale, I don’t want to bring an infection home to my wife who suffers from asthma. I don’t want to pass germs to my parents. On a community scale, I want to be respectful of the tellers at Columbia Bank, the checkers at Manzanita Fresh Foods, the staff at the Bay Way Tavern and anyone else I come in contact with who may have health issues or live with compromised family members. I love all of these people, it’s really just that simple.
And some day we will open up again and welcome larger crowds of visitors than we’ve seen in a while. Though I’ll obviously never know any of them, hopefully they’ll recognize my wearing a mask as the loving gesture of solidarity that it’s meant to be.
The past few months, I kept hearing the same mantra over and over again: “we’re all in this together.” Wearing a face mask is the one tangible way you can prove that.
So put your fabric where your mouth is.
I’m looking at you, stormtrooperguy7783.
EDITORS NOTE: Need a mask? There are many options – there is a community group providing masks – e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your request. Community members are making masks and asking for donations to community groups.
Barbara Trout in Rockaway Beach is asking for donations for her masks to be sent to the Rockaway Beach Senior Meals programs – email Barbara at email@example.com
Leslie Day of The Bear Den is also making masks to benefit her nonprofit The Bear Den – email Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also a Facebook group page “Maskanita-Protecting Community, Friends and Self” https://www.facebook.com/groups/3318968091466788/