A transformed phrase from Hamlet clearly describes personal choice decisions faced by many of us.
The choices come with the option of continuing to wear a face mask or leaving the mask tucked away out-of-sight as parts of life return to what we remember from two years ago.
If Hamlet were on stage today, he would have us pondering the options of “to wear or not to wear, that is the question.”
Who would have ever thought that so much personal time would be devoted to a piece of fabric or plastic and some stretchy ear pieces. But here we are, faced with a decision of wearing a mask to the grocery store or leaving it at home as we venture forth to a concert or hockey game.
On a personal basis, in two surveys I have answered, I said I would play it by ear, but would mostly try to stay safe and continue to cover up as circumstances present themselves, or were mandated. And I have done so and not one person has looked at me strangely for still wearing my mask.
The strange looks have come when I’ve stepped out in public and momentarily have not afixed my mask. “I know her from somewhere but I can’t think of her name,” is undoubtedly what some have been thinking. Or maybe the thoughts are less charitable: “Oh Lord, she should put that mask back on. I didn’t remember how scary she looked.”
Since the mask became a regular part of our wardrobe, it was intriguing to see how some folks donned this piece of apparel, more often than not, missing the whole point of a cover-up. A friend and I recently discussed how some folks left the nose hanging out, with the mask just underneath the point that juts out. We laughed that it was mostly longer noses that were exposed, making us wonder if perhaps these folks could have used a bit more fabric or upsized from large to extra large plastic.
On a personal note, the length of my own nose has often been the topic of some measurement, with one particular friend always teasing me about this facial centrepiece. Others simply acknowledge that the characteristic of a long nose comes from my father’s side of the family. But I swear that my nose was always covered, especially to hide the teenage pimple that burst out on the end.
Another bit of information needs to be shared: while I was wearing a mask, it covered up nicely some of my thoughts on certain topics or activities taking place around me. For instance, the driver who cut me off in traffic wouldn’t have been able to see my lips moving and read what I called him/her. Ditto for the shoppers who enjoyed their weekly visits in the centre of the potato chip aisle at the grocery store.
Some people say one’s eyes tell the whole story, so hopefully my twinkling eyes never, ever revealed more than I intended.
A conversation took a gruesome turn one day when a group began debating how often to change one’s mask, or how often to wash the fabric ones. One chap claimed he had a friend who hadn’t ever changed his. Several of us looked at each other in alarm. He further disgusted us when he said his friend could keep an extra chaw of chewing tobacco inside his mask but outside his mouth. Yuck!
So now that masks may become a less used clothing accessory, there’s another decision to make: what will become of all those cloth masks that were bought to show allegiances to certain sports teams, masks that had musical instruments for music lovers, pink pigs for pork producers, hearts and flowers for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for March 17, maple leafs for Canada Day or poppies for Remembrance Day.
I have a plastic sandwich bag full of cloth masks in my purse, all washed and ready for most occasions. What a waste it would be to discard them. Perhaps a quilting friend could use them for a quilt. Remove the ear hooks and they become dust cloths.
Or share them with someone looking for a place to store his chewing tobacco.
The possibilities are nearly endless. But just remember: if you wear them as masks, cover up that longish, pointy nose.
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.