Friday, January 15 2021 - 7:19 AM
lady wearing mask
Photo by Dreamstime

Masked Out

I’ve learned to smile with my eyes. I always thought I did that anyway, but never before with a Covid mask that pretty much leaves only my eyes showing. It’s a challenge. Masked characters from the world of entertainment like Zorro, Batman, and the Lone Ranger were not challenged as we are to smile with their eyes. Theirs is another version of masking–eyes only–and meant to hide their true identity. These guys also seemed ageless as far as we could tell because their laugh lines were hidden. I now appreciate those little crinkles around my eyes. I see how they have charm and purpose. The more they show, the wider I’m smiling.

Almost everywhere we shop now there’s a dedicated mask display. And shields, we can’t forget those. I had my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago. My hygienist wore a mask, a full face shield, and gloves. I could tell that she had also perfected smiling with her eyes. That’s how I recognized her among the busy office staff. I was glad that I could take my mask off and breathe while she scraped and flossed my teeth, but I felt bad for her that she had to be masked and shielded all day.

Lighten Up

A good sense of humor goes a long way in a crisis. Nothing about a nasty virus is funny, of course, but once in a while, it helps to lighten up. A few months ago I wrote a little ditty about masks and posted it on my Facebook page. I advised those who read it to sing it to the tune of “Matchmaker” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. I dedicated it to a man who made and delivered many masks to his friends and family. Here are the first two stanzas.

Mask maker, mask maker, make me a mask
Find me a theme, get to the task
Mask maker, mask maker, fabric in hand
And tangled elastic bands.

Mask maker, mask maker, get to your room
I’ve got a date waiting on Zoom
He’s really handsome or I wouldn’t ask
Please make me the perfect mask.

What Can We Do?

I only realized later that the singer probably wouldn’t have worn a mask while Zooming, but no one seemed to notice. I got many likes and comments, and it was wonderful to know that others were also feeling the need for some comic relief. Here on the ground we all understand that we can’t do much about the policies and practices surrounding this pandemic. Rather, we hunker down, wear the mask, and wait it out.

The days of mask-wearing won’t last forever. We’ll endure. And to further define the situation, we’ll be able to tell our grandchildren all about an era when everyone had to wear masks to protect each other from a foul virus that affected the whole world. There will be many stories to be told—some sad, some troubling, and some good. We’re each weathering the same storm with our masks, shields, hand sanitizer, and gloves. And we’re doing it with smiling eyes.

If you liked this you might enjoy, Twelve Little Blessings | Yes, Wearing Masks Helps.

Susan Sundwall writes from New York.

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About Susan Sundwall

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Susan Sundwall

writes from New York.

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