Behind the Mask

Looking for a new normal
Chrisrose

The best part about this November is that I didn’t hear a single Christmas Carol in a store in October. I suppose that’s probably because I didn’t go to any stores in October.

But still, it’s the little things that make you smile in times like these. No trick-or-treaters meant I saved $40 in candy. You look for things to be thankful for in this time of Thanksgiving.

But I do hope that somebody will tell me when it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Otherwise, I won’t know.

My parked car got hit by a food delivery truck. There are a lot of food delivery trucks on the road these days. I went to my local body shop, a small independently owned business on the north shore to get the damage fixed. It’s a cozy joint, just the owner and two employees. Nobody wears masks.

The owner, he drove my car back to my place when the job was done. A fine job, I might add. So naturally, I offered to drive him back to his shop. I put on my mask and started the car. He said to me: “You’re always wearing that. You don’t have to worry about me; I don’t have it.”

It.

“And I don’t go anywhere, anyway,” he added for reassurance. Point made. But maybe he’s forgetting that, even if he goes nowhere, about 20 people a day come to him, unmasked.

I’m in the Cone of Possibility, or whatever it’s called. The Death Trap. The Suicide Rap. By age, respiratory condition and a lifetime of general debauchery, insouciance and doing too much of what people shouldn’t do, I am COVID-19 waiting to happen.

I have masks hanging from my rearview mirror like I used to have Mardi Gras beads or panties snagged off a float. Frankly, I’m scared. And I don’t mind dying, to tell you the truth. I’ve crossed a lot of things off my bucket list. No need to be greedy.

But I just don’t want it to be that way. Not the way I hear about it. Alone, surrounded by what look like extras from a contagion movie except this time it’s my movie.

I don’t want to watch.

I went to my local laundromat. Now that I live on the north shore, it’s no longer called a washateria. I miss that part of living in the city. The part where everybody gets everything wrong, but in just the right way.

Our appliances are broken so I had to drive down the road to a place where no one wears masks or gloves and they file in with piles of dirty clothes and everybody touches all the same dials and buttons. It’s a veritable infectorium. And I don’t know if that’s a real word but it should be. And it is now.

At the local grocery, there’s a sign on the door asking customers to please wear masks, for the safety of other shoppers. Some do, some don’t. I make sure not to buy the produce that I see other shoppers fondle bare handed and then toss back onto the pile.

If they don’t want that apple, I sure as hell don’t either.

Me, I ain’t great looking, so the mask doesn’t bother me. My only remaining physical asset is that – at my advanced age – I’m told I still have pretty eyes and generous eye lashes so, in fact, I’m totally down with it. That’s all you can see of me.

My kids are in school and that terrifies me. But I get it. Cooped up at home since March can make a person crazy, especially kids. Me, I was shut in and crazy long before all of this started so – other than having no job or income – it’s all good with me.

Just another day at no office.

November marks nine months of the four Ps: pandemic, panic and perpetual pajamas. You know you’re cooped up too long when you begin to notice that Turner Classic Movies keeps playing the same classic movies over and over and that, when an episode of Law & Order comes on, you already know whodunnit.

Can I get a witness?

A vaccine is on the way. Or it isn’t. A President is on the way, or he isn’t. The New Normal is on the way, or it isn’t. I just want to know when crawfish season starts again. Or will it?

Because then I can feel good again. Then I can feel home again.