Published on August 7th, 2020 | by Craig Silliphant


Mask Not What You Can Do For Your Country (Comedy)

With the awareness of the importance of mask use rising during Covid, Craig takes a humourous look at the pros and cons of wearing one.

Walmart Canada has taken what I would consider a bold move for them by announcing that as of August 12th, masks will be mandatory in their stores. Imagine how important they must think this is to their own risk assessment protocol if they’re willing to enrage their mostly non-mask wearing base. I haven’t been in a Walmart in 20 years, but I applaud their effort, even if it remains to be seen how they enforce it (or why they’re even doing it — they’ve already shown that community preservation isn’t high on their list of priorities).

Call me a sheeple, but I recently made the flip to being a full-time masker. I’ve owned a mask since the lockdown, but I’d only worn it to the grocery store once or twice. I’ve now made a commitment to wear it into any indoor public space. (And yes, you take it off to eat in a restaurant).

When you can’t social distance, masks are proven to significantly slow Covid transmission and I need to be the change I want to see. I don’t see this as a selfless thing I’m doing. I’m perfectly selfish. You see, I have parents in an at-risk age category, children I need to keep safe, and a job that depends on the economy staying afloat. Also, call me a coward, but I don’t want to know what a ventilator feels like. So, the way I see it, I don’t really love the mask, but I don’t have a choice.

“But that mask takes away yer freedom! Yer Freedom! FREEDOM!

It sure does.

Just like the way I’m forced to wear pants and underwear in public or they’ll arrest me for indecent exposure. Or the way they’re shoving their seatbelt laws down my throat. The Man is always trying to keep me down. I can’t even let the wind tickle my tackle as I strut down the street! I’m forced to stay in the car during a rollover instead of ejecting to my death! Listen, if I want to die in a naked rollover, that’s my business.

When I started wearing the mask more, some people looked at me like I was in cahoots with Bill Gates and the aliens, about to shed my human skin and devour their supply of toilet paper. I’d hoped I looked more like a cool train robber or someone about to perform emergency open-heart surgery.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” they’d shout, as someone collapsed in the grocery aisle. “No,” I’d say. “But don’t worry; I have a mask.”

I’d save the life, tip my hat and walk out, groceries in hand. One of them would whisper, “Who was that masked man?”

I did notice a few things with the mask; primarily, the sense of utter moral superiority. Don’t let any mask-wearing do-gooders tell you that it’s all for the cause. Looking down my nose at the people who are not doing the thing I also wasn’t doing three days ago is utterly intoxicating. I’m drunk on condescension.

I also took glee in discovering I didn’t have to engage in some social situations. We’ve become anonymous. Masks do wonders against the virus, but they also significantly slow the ‘stop-and-chat’ rate. Now I pretend I don’t recognize the guy from down the street who always wants to talk about his collection of potatoes that look like Prime Ministers (the Trudeau potato is uncanny).

I actually went and stood next to a mask-wearing woman at the Co-op the other day, staring at her like a creep, because I thought she was my mom. She wasn’t. Though she’s invited me over for a socially-distanced backyard barbecue next week. She keeps calling me Jed. She may also have me confused with someone else. But I can’t turn down free BBQ.

I’ve noticed a few negatives as well, besides the moronic hecklers. I mean, for us dweebs, foggy glasses are a big one. You also have to stay conscious of your toothbrushing habits. I went for lunch the other day, then ran some masked errands after. Every time I breathed out, it was like sticking my nose in a soggy garbage bag filled with farts.

Covering your face also strips you of some humanity, because we get a lot of social cues from facial expressions. I stopped to let someone pass me, and I smiled at them to say, “It’s okay, you go ahead.” But all they saw was a guy staring at them blankly. We need to invent some signals and codes; blink three times if you’re smiling. Blink four times if you need a toothbrush or gum.

These are just some of the ups and downs people will notice if they want to become a masker. But make no mistake, they’re doing something meaningful. Most masks don’t protect the wearer, so these people are wearing masks for others.

They’re not losing their freedom. In fact, they’re giving something back to society that’s more important. They’re ensuring we keep this virus down. That we don’t lose our livelihoods and businesses. That our loved ones stay safe.

Now that I’ve been wandering through the world with fogged-up glasses, I know wearing a mask is not a big deal. Though if we all did it, it could make all the difference in the world. I mean, we’re all supposed to be “all in this together,” right?

Love each other and wear a goddamn mask.

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About the Author

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is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, editor, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.

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