I wear a face mask when out in public, and like others, I've been subjected to enough ridicule that I've contemplated packing a gun. You can do that in Oklahoma, even if you can't tell butt from barrel. The other option is just to not go anywhere, which seems easier and safer than explaining to a law enforcement officer why I filled some troublemaker's rump full of lead.
I thought, until Friday, that I'd heard every reason for refusal to wear a mask. The usual rationale revolves around "personal choice," or more generically, "freedom" - a notion that has been warped and twisted beyond recognition, since one person's freedom stops at the end of the next person's nose. Then there are those who remain mask-free under doctors' orders; they usually have asthma or a fear of smothering, which is a real thing called "pnigophobia." Others just say they find it uncomfortable.
But this, from a woman at the fitness center, was the most creative yet: "I ain't gonna put on wunna them thangs 'cause summun might thank I'm a Mooslum, and a-wearin' a whatchamadoodle? A burka?" I didn't bother correcting her; a closer comparison would have been a niqab, but I was fairly impressed she'd come up with "burqa" on her own. At least, I assumed it was an original thought: Perhaps she'd been listening to Tucker Carlson or some other chronic prevaricator. But what tamped down any attempt at snark was the suspicion that she might have been toting more than a towel in her gym bag - which, by the way, had a Confederate flag on it.
I think we're all going about this in the wrong way. I know others share the sentiment, because you can't log onto social media these days without being inundated with ads for masks. I saw one with bling on it Friday morning, and was sorely tempted. So was the burqa basher; when I showed her, she admitted a black mask with rhinestones had a certain appeal.
People need to just start thinking of masks as accessories. I have a great one given to me by Cathy Cott, which she picked up at 490 Creations, and it has several justice-oriented slogans: "Black Lives Matter," "Love is Love," "Women's Rights Are Human Rights," and so on. She dared me to wear it to Silver Dollar City, which I did last month. I suspect she was curious to learn how well I could defend myself in a fight, but as it turned out, I got more thumbs-ups than scowls. It's hard to tell, though, when all you can see is a pair of ocular orbs; they take their masking and social distancing seriously at SDC, and if you remove one longer than it takes to sip your soda or bite into your burger, a friendly hillbilly will stroll over and ask you to "put that scarf back on that face, little lady!" I did hear one man mumble behind his bandana, something that sounded like "All lives matter!" But he was about 10 feet away, and wouldn't look me in the eye. If he had, I'd have said, "Even yours!"
If President Trump weren't so dead set against wearing masks, he would have seized upon the opportunity to further fill his coffers. Forget the fact that he'd be far more handsome with his face partly covered. If he'd been selling bright-red "Make America Great Again!" masks at the Tulsa rally, not only would he have sold them to legions of fans - at whatever his asking price - but the spike in Tulsa's COVID cases might not have been quite so high afterward. Yes, I know, some of you are blaming the BLM protesters, but people who were on the scene pretty much agree most of those folks wore masks. One cynical friend suggested on Facebook that protesters were only hiding their faces so the cops couldn't tell who they were when the looting began. She went down faster than a rock tossed off a cliff at Lake Tenkiller, and eventually deleted her cynical comment.
But MAGA masks are only the beginning of a windfall for Trump or some other savvy businessperson. Anticipating a future trip to Universal Orlando, I went looking online for Harry Potter masks - Ravenclaw for me, Slytherin for my husband - but found nothing official. Apparently the marketing team for that behemoth corporation isn't quite up to the task. There were several Hogwarts House masks being peddled on Etsy, but after the experience of our local children's library specialist - otherwise known as Michelle Newton - I want nothing to do with that outfit.
I don't know whether the Red River Rivalry will take place this year, but I can picture crimson and cream OU masks, on the opposite side of the Cotton Bowl from baby-poo orange-brown ones with Bevo silhouettes. Of course, the shouts will be muffled by the masks, but that could have its advantages, because Texicans pack, too. And then there's Bedlam. Those same OU masks - after going through the washer to get rid of slobber, snot, and the occasional booger huffed out during an unexpected interception - can be repurposed to oppose the bright-orange OSU face foils bearing the image of a bowlegged, frowning Pistol Pete. Perhaps Pete himself could be depicted with a mask, and Boomer and Sooner would sure look cute with special-ordered pony masks as they pull the Schooner.
But setting aside bling, political statements, and sports team mascots, masks have other advantages vain individuals haven't thought about. A number of facial flaws - weak chins, bulbous noses, and warts with hairs - would be hidden for the time being. Are you as ugly as homemade soap? Mask up, and people won't shudder and look away when they pass you on the street. No one would see your crooked, yellow teeth, so you can delay that whitening treatment or a trip to the orthodontist. You can also put off any plastic surgery you were contemplating: puffed lips, refined noses, and contoured cheekbones won't be seen behind your mask, so why bother? As for the lipstick industry - well, they'll need to forget about those sultry colors and concentrate on eye makeup. Breath mints and mouthwash sales would plummet as well, because we can keep our halitosis to ourselves.
Best of all, we can cuss people out and they wont understand our mumbling. Men fed up with their nagging wives - or wives with critical husbands - can realistically claim to be hard of hearing when the next demand is muttered. Writing skills could improve as well: Parents will have to leave notes for recalcitrant teens about curfews and homework. Traditional Americans, long used to being stubbornly monolingual, may give over to learning sign language out of necessity.
Which gives me an idea for a promotion. Excuse me while I go talk to my publisher.