Please. No bickering about the title of this blog. We all know that COVID-19 is nothing to laugh about, not with so much illness and death. But during the years I fought Breast Cancer, I learned the importance of positive thinking. I’d make the lemons-to-lemonade argument if it weren’t so clichéd.
So how’s this: When life gives you a rainy day, play in puddles.
Traditionally, play for me means shopping. Call it a fault, even an illness, but there it is. Pre-COVID, I’d reward myself after a morning of writing with a trip to the mall. I haven’t yet been back there, but that isn’t to say I haven’t shopped. Many a morning when I need a break, I pull l up my favorite stores online and browse New Arrivals. I may put something in my cart, or not. Inevitably, I exit. What’s the point in buying a silk blouse or a new pair of shoes when I’m not going anywhere special?
Masks are another matter.
The first time I wore one out of the house, I felt like a freak. It wasn’t Halloween, just a Sunday morning at the supermarket, and not everyone was into it. But COVID was lurking, and medical experts pointed to mask use as one way to limit the spread, so there I was. Those first masks were disposable paper ones with pleats. To this day, I find them to be great for my purse or the glove box, easy to put on, take off, and toss out.
But what fun is there in a paper mask?
I’ll bet many of you make masks yourselves, and I’m in awe of you for that. I actually did buy yards of elastic and designate a few old tee-shirts for the cause. But I had neither the skill nor, in truth, the interest in making my own. I wanted to buy. I could afford to do it. I liked the idea of supporting independent craftspeople (think Etsy), many of whom donate one for every few sold.
So the shopping began. And I did make some early mistakes. Take the ultra-thin cloth masks, the single-layered ones with patterns of bees or cats on the front, soft and comfy, and easy as pie to breathe through. Sadly, studies ranked them poor for protection.
Same with gaiters – and oh, what a disappointment that was. I thought I’d found the answer to walking outside. A gaiter was comfortable and convenient lying around my neck, easily lifted when another person approached. Turns out, the gaiter’s single layer of miracle fiber actually breaks the droplets into smaller bits that spread worse than ever.
Bandanas aren’t much better than gaiters. Since they’re open at the bottom, they don’t hold droplets in, but send them shooting under and out. My hairdresser insists on wearing one. And he talks non-stop. Not good at all. So. When I go to the hair shop – which is far less often than I used to – I wear my sturdiest mask with a tea filter inside as an extra layer.
Okay, you’re asking, waiting, where’s the fun?
Patience, please. Let’s be practical for one last minute. Consider fit. I get the best fit from a pleated cloth mask. It’s made of multiple layers of fabric, some cotton, some polyester, so it’s protective. I prefer elastic ear hooks, rather than bands that go around the back of the head. Oh, and I like a nose wire. I do wear glasses into the market, and the nose wire helps with both fog and fit. I’ve seen masks that are snout-like, leaving more room inside to breathe. This isn’t my problem. But if it’s yours, a snout mask may work.
Yuck. Snout mask? Fun, please. Fun.
Okay. Here we go. My mask collection resides in a basket in my laundry room, easily accessible as I’m leaving the house.
Which mask I choose on a given day depends on my mood, on what clothes I’m wearing, where I’ll be going, who I’ll be seeing, or whether it’s a mask-message day. There are lots of options.
For starters, because I’m a black pants addict, there is urban chic. We’re talking a black mask – or gray or ecru – for serious outings, like going to the dermatologist. That means sedate and down to earth.
Conversely, if I’m going to the supermarket, I’m light-hearted. I like the supermarket, always have, and since it’s become the major outing of my week, I lift my own spirits with a colorful statement. I’m talking blue-and-white checks, red polka dots, neon green, a handsome plaid, or rainbow stripes.
When I’m walking outside, I’m either missing my gaiter, wearing a random mask on my chin until a person nears, or fully masked with something like seersucker.
For a national holiday, like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and the upcoming Labor Day, I go patriotic. With an election in sight and the need to vote oh-so-important, this resonates.
For a loud fashion statement, I go with glitter. LOVE my glitter masks.
Then there’s the midnight sky of the serious woman, the author who is writing her next book and wants to be in the mood. Or starbursts for the woman who craves inspiration. Or a calming lavender for a day when the news stinks.
Oh, and did I mention batik? That’s the one at the top of this blog and it’s my new favorite.
As for color coordinating, I do love Nancy Pelosi’s masks – which, too, have evolved from scarves to better face coverings. She walks the walk as she talks the talk, though I’m not sure she’s having fun. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes these days.
Me, I am having fun, definitely playing in puddles. You can’t always see my smile behind the mask. But it’s there.