As reported by the Times Picayune Advocate, the mask mandate has been lifted in New Orleans, per new guidelines from the CDC. I don’t know how to feel about it, to be honest.

Given my work, I’ve been dining out more, I think, than most people over the last eight months or so. Just about all of that dining has been outside, and even though I’m now fully vaccinated I’m still reluctant to go into a restaurant or grocery without a mask.

I want to be able to go without a mask. I am not one of those people who believes that the mask improves my appearance by making me seem mysterious. I mean, it does, because my eyes are my best feature but that’s not the point. The point is that I want to go back to the days when we didn’t even consider wearing masks.

But are we there? Are we at the point where removing masks won’t lead to a new surge of cases? The current rule is that you don’t have to wear a mask if you’re vaccinated, but there’s no way to verify whether a person has been vaccinated or not and most of the people who haven’t been vaccinated are also the people who didn’t want to wear masks in the first place, I think.

In terms of restaurants, most that I’ve talked to are still planning to have their employees wear masks. One hopes that if you work in a service industry job, you’ve been vaccinated, but who knows? Some people – foolish people – just don’t want to get the vaccine. Those are the people who are going to put service industry workers who haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated yet at increased risk, and that’s troubling.

But what about going out in the first place? If I’ve been vaccinated, should I still avoid dining indoors? In my case the answer is “no,” as my wife and I had dinner at our favorite pizza joint, Ancora, and everybody in attendance save my 8-year old daughter was vaccinated.

When I went to Rouse’s the other day, there was one customer who was not wearing a mask. I didn’t know whether to be glad or annoyed. Because I’m not wearing a mask to signal how virtuous I am.

I’m wearing a mask because it’s what’s been recommended to reduce the risk of infection and I care about my neighbors more than I care about my glasses fogging up in the dairy aisle. And let me tell you, that is a pain in the ass. I’m blind already, now I have to deal with fog?

How is a man supposed to tell creamy peanut butter from crunchy when one cannot see? This may not seem an important issue, but you have not met my 8-year-old daughter. It is an important issue to her and she does not consider foggy glasses a legitimate excuse. See also: the wrong form of Airheads sour candy. There are many forms of Airheads candy. Someday I will purchase the correct form on the day that form is requested.

But I digress.

As I said, I am fully vaccinated as is my wife and our middle daughter is about to get her second shot. My son is vaccinated and so is my father and my father-in-law. My mother is in a category of folks about whom doctors disagree as to whether they should get the shot(s). She’s chosen not to, because of the risk and because she’s willing to be careful when she goes out.

I’m probably going to be wearing a mask for a while when I am indoors at restaurants or shops. I’ll do it not because I’m worried about myself, but because I’m worried about my mother. I know the mask won’t guarantee that I won’t pick up something that I can then pass on to her, and there have been and will be viruses after COVID-19. But if the least I can do is wear a mask to reduce the risk I’ll transmit something to her, then why would I not?

I ask anyone who is eligible for the vaccine but hasn’t gotten it: why? If you believe that the vaccine is going to plant a chip into your body or that Bill Gates is going to be able to view your internet search history, then ok. I understand that.

If I believed I was going to be tracked by a mega-corporation wherever I went for the rest of my life, I would be rather concerned he said sarcastically. Because, my darlings, if you don’t think you’re being tracked already? I can at least understand someone who thinks Bill Gates is personally spying on them via a microchip administered via vaccine. That’s the sort of batshit crazy you don’t have to like, but you do have to respect.

But if the reason you haven’t gotten the vaccine is “Eh… it’s just inconvenient”? In that case I cannot respect you. Primarily because you are relying on other people to get vaccinated and thus reducing the risk of exposure to yourself without even going to the trouble of letting a very nice person in fatigues (in my case) jab a very small needle into your arm.

So if you have not been vaccinated yet, please do so; if only to reduce the risk for people in the service industry.