Bob Franken




To say there is confusion regarding Covid masking is putting it mildly. Should we mask or shouldn’t we? But then, we were always divided during the pandemic (when are we not?). There were those who showed their sanity by covering up, sometimes overdoing it, and those who demonstrated their craziness by never using masks, even in situations where it was mandatory.
Now we’re being told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that once we are vaccinated, we can socialize without hiding part of our faces.
Unfortunately, the feds don’t have the final say-so on the subject. Local and state rules apply, meaning that every leader of the thousands of jurisdictions, for their own often-grubby political reasons, have the last word.
Besides, even by the CDC’s facial striptease guidance, we will operate on the honor system. No one will have to prove they’ve been fully immunized. This is a mixed bag. Or should I say mixed up? People will lie with no mechanism in place to check, just like teeny-boppers create false IDs so they can get into nightclubs crawling with pervs. I’d say alleged pervs, but I’ve already written about Matt Gaetz.

But for every decision, particularly such a consequential one, there are unintended consequences. It is true that the latest mask guidance is a signal that the United States is emerging from the coronavirus siege, with over half a million deaths. It may be reckless, but in spite of the nationwide devastation, we’ve tired of living in fear amid economic wreckage
Now we can return to ballgames, concerts, restaurants and bars without guilt about taking such a careless risk.
There are other benefits. Dental health will improve. We have gotten reckless about brushing our teeth. After all, the face mask camouflages bad breath. Now we have to be fastidious or pay the price socially and romantically.
Same with guys who want to project a clean-face image. I admit that’s a dwindling number, but still, you didn’t have to shave if you wore a mask.
As uncomfortable as so many of us found the face covering to be, to bank robbers they were a godsend. Now they will have to go back to even more sweaty ski masks if they want to do their dastardly deeds. Of course, first they will have to find an open full-service branch. It takes a different set of skills to pillage an ATM.
Slowly we were learning to accept the face mask. After all, it was a big reason the rate of infectious diseases, like the common flu, had gone down. More important than the public health consequences was the fashion statement we were starting to make. After all, the trivial always trumps (pardon the expression) the substantial.
The custom-designed face mask business was a major growth industry. It was just one more way you could make a statement. Between the customized face mask, idiosyncratic T-shirt or sweatshirt and baseball hat (including MAGA hats and face masks), I could go out looking like a human billboard, just like a NASCAR racer.
And what’s going to happen to Tony Fauci? He rocketed to fame during the pandemic like never before, although he has been doing his reputable celebrity medical sort of thing since the Reagan and AIDS years. But he didn’t have the foil he had in Donald Trump. Whenever Trump, as president, would say something stupid about Covid — which was all the time — Fauci was the go-to guy for media to set things right.
But it was face masks that set the tone. Soon, hopefully, they will be a horrible memory. The workplace, as well as school campuses, will never be the same with Zoom calls embedded in our experience, for better and worse. As for the face masks, no longer will our sound be muffled, although we’ll find other ways for our policies to be confused.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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