Friday, July 3, 2020

Andy Young: When shopping for facemasks, listen to people you trust implicitly

By Andy Young

In the past high school teachers like me and our students all eagerly anticipated summer vacation. However, given current conditions, spending ten weeks at home in semi-quarantine after spending three months at home in semi-quarantine seems like a mixed blessing. People who know me well (and who I trust implicitly) say that depending on the attitude of the individual(s) involved, what was once seen as unlimited freedom is now viewed by many as continued social exile, or, even more grimly, perpetual solitary confinement.

It’s nice that some businesses are beginning to re-open. Wearing facemasks in public places is still considered prudent, and I have no problem with that. I do wish they wouldn’t make my glasses wouldn’t fog up so much, though. Last week I was desperately trying to purchase frozen meatballs that did NOT contain stinky Parmesan cheese, which two of my children detest nearly as much as I do. The print is hard enough to read on those boxes as it is, but when my breath (which behind a mask is always nasty, no matter how often I brush my teeth) escapes from the top of my facial covering and fogs up my cheaters, it's even tougher.

Since travel this summer appears unlikely, I was considering getting a job stocking shelves at the local grocery store, but as it seems I'm going to be spending a great deal of time preparing for more "distance teaching" this fall, summer employment may not be the best idea. Also, as I found out recently when I received an unexpected gift card from a friend, maybe it’s better if I leave that job for someone else who truly needs it. It turns out there’s nothing in Amazon’s warehouse I need or want that I don’t already have.

But every responsible citizen ought to be doing their part to strengthen the economy, so ultimately I bought an item (or several items, actually) that I had never heard of until recently.

A balaclava is one of those cylindrical cloth things you can wear around your neck, and then pull up over your mouth and/or nose when it suits your purpose, like when you’re skiing down a mountain in sub-zero conditions, trying not to swallow flying insects or diesel fumes while riding your motorcycle, or preparing to hold up a convenience store. They can also be used as face masks. Thanks to that gift card I now own balaclavas sporting the Guatemalan flag, the Canadian flag, Yosemite Sam, the Three Stooges, and Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

I was sorely tempted to get one with The Great Cornholio on it, but since I’m still clinging to the faint hope of getting a date someday if and when social distancing regulations subside, I decided to pass. People who know me well (and who I trust implicitly) tell me that sporting Beavis and Butthead-themed clothing in 2020 is not the best way to impress the chicks in my particular demographic.

Nor, now that I think of it, is referring to women (of any demographic) as "chicks."

But there’s a potential silver lining to the likelihood that face coverings will still be required when and if we return to school this fall. Having a wide variety of them could, for the first time in my life, make me a contender for the title of “best-dressed” faculty member. And people who know me well (and who I trust implicitly) tell me that since 95 percent of my wardrobe was purchased prior to the end of the 20th century, this is indeed cause to raise the flag.

Even a Guatemalan or Canadian one. <

Editor’s note: Andy Young has been writing a column for many years and most recently was a columnist for the Journal Tribune newspaper in Biddeford. His columns will now appear on a regular basis in The Windham Eagle.

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