Masked Chris Bateman

Monday, May 11


Fashion statements in this era of Corona? 

Has to be masks: Most of us figured we’d never wear them after our last round of trick-or-treating. But here we are, years or decades later,  strapping them on when we dare shop for groceries, medicine, gas and the other basics of life. 

Masks are what you see when you go out. Look someone in the face, and you’re looking at a mask. It may be plain white or multi-colored. It could be medical style, a full scarf, or a cowboy bandana. But it’s the first thing you notice. 

Shirts? Jeans? Dresses? Shoes? They’re all secondary to masks. Masks are in the line of sight. They’re what you get instead of a smile or frown. They’re how we judge people. 

And what about those of us not wearing masks? Well, we judge them too. 

You might wonder how I got onto this tangent. It’s because my own “fashion statement” has changed. From blue to pink. 

Geezer Diary followers might remember that in the very early days of quarantine I went on Amazon and ordered 35 masks. But before they arrived, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts advised that they were really not necessary for those of us not working on ambulances or in hospitals. 

So when my blue masks arrived, I donated all but five of them to Adventist Health Sonora. Then the experts told us that masks were a good idea after all. Since then, I’ve worn mine on every trip off Yankee Hill. 

Last week I went to my doctor’s office (more about that a future entry), where I was given a brand new mask for my appointment.  On the way out, I told a nurse my home supply was running low. She gave me five more masks. 

All pink. 

First off, I am secure about my own masculinity. But my typical wardrobe is predictable, edging toward boring. So, at least in my own vivid imagination, my new pink mask will override anything else I’m wearing. “Pretty in pink,” it will scream. 

That said, I did not ask that nurse if she had any other colors available. That would have really exposed me as insecure. 

This dilemma got me thinking about mask options beyond the simple blue or pink. They are infinite. 

Let’s start with your basic Darth Vader mask. Yes, one of those might banish any doubts about my masculinity. But would probably give rise to many more doubts about my sanity. 

Then there are Raiders, 49ers, Sharks, A’s and Cubs masks, along with those for all MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL teams.  I can honor my alma mater with a Stanford Cardinal mask. Or dishonor it with a Cal Bear, USC Trojan or Oregon Duck masks. I can proclaim myself “Mr. Retired.” Or tout political allegiance with Trump, Biden or even Bernie masks. 

With a mask, you can make yourself look like a dog, cat, pig, lion, gorilla, gator or pretty much any critter. You can go camo.  Or can wear the flags of dozens of nations.  You can cover your mouth and nose with the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and many more musical headliners. 

You can wear new lips, some with cigarettes dangling. You can affix a handlebar mustache. You can send one company a photo of your own face, and it will crank out a “selfie mask” that will almost look like you’re not wearing one at all. 

You can go with a stars-and-bars confederate flag. Or why not try a swastika mask? 

OK, there’s a good answer to that last question: A Google search, mercifully, did not yield any swastika-mask purveyors. But it did cough up several news stories about Nazi face-coverings leading to fights, which often involved cops. 

I can hear that would-be SS commando now: “But officer, I’m just trying to slow the spread.” 

All this makes you wonder: What will become of our tens of millions of masks when this pandemic recedes? 

Will they be carefully stored in anticipation of the next worldwide scourge?  Will they become collectors’ items, with certain rare masks fetching as much as 1909 Honus Wagner baseball cards? Will they be resurrected each Halloween as quick-and-easy costumes? Will they be displayed in each household to remind future generations of what might happen if we’re not careful? Or will we just chuck them out? 

But back to my earlier question: Will I actually wear my new pink masks? 


The answer is yes. Because, after not all that much deliberation, I’ve concluded that nobody gives a damn about my masculinity or how comfortable I am with it. 

In these times, my fellow shoppers just might have a few more important things on their minds. 


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