December 8, 2022

From day one of the pandemic, we all wore the facemask (pizmask), which has become part of the daily fabric of our lives and will probably stay on forever.
There was a time when the pizmask’s purpose was to disguise the true identity of the criminals underneath. Wearing a mask at a bank would definitely raise a lot of eyebrows and the secret alarm pressed to call the cops, just like in the movies. Now it’s the new normal.
When you wear a mask, it feels like the secrets of your world become suddenly shrouded in mystery. Even the priest in Scout Barrio says mass with a mask and he threw some holy water at the flock. A bit odd I know, but I think it’s a blessing in disguise.
Now that it is mandatory, it has become more and more difficult to recognize people from apart or even nearby. When one waves at you, you have to double back as if to say, “Who you?” and only then would you know who the person is when he removes the pizmask or calls out your name or both.
Worse, speaking to someone wearing a pizmask requires a double effort to understand what he is saying, like The Godfather’s Marlon Brando a.k.a. Don Vito Corleone trademark mumbled, muzzled words.
Reminds me of dinner talk last Chinese New Year at Fortune about a nurse at the intensive care unit who noticed a patient trying to say something through his oxygen mask.
The nurse asked, “Sorry, what was that again?”
Patient answers, “Are my testicles black?”
Nurse: “Excuse me?”
Patient, “Are my testicles black?”
The nurse was quite young and beautiful, and was used to getting hit on by patients. But seeing the state the poor man was in, she decided to check on his testicles. She spent a full minute examining his testicles and told the man, “Sir, your testicles are not black and are perfectly fine.”
The patient takes off his mask, smiles and replies, “That’s all well and good, but are my test results back?”
During normal times before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, all of us were seen even photographed in all our glory, unmasked and smiling.
We expressed strong emotions while engaged in conversation and talk. One could read reactions or judge personality or character by the full face, or worse by the looks. Wearing the pizmask pulled down beneath the nose actually helps people estimate the IQ of the other.
Now, we take pictures of people wearing a mask and while it may project a “politically correct” image of complying with Covid-19 protocols, it looks funny, silly or downright stupid.
In photos, wearing a pizmask is a phenomenon as one can’t tell if he’s smiling, frowning, scowling, or cursing the photographer and its environs or what have you.
That’s why for me, while still following safety protocols, I remove my masks when giving a talk, appearing on TV or being photographed or videoed. It is so much easier for the public to connect to a full face than half a face and when I am gone on earth and people review the pictures, it must look better to see the real total face than the one half covered by pizmask.
Even the engaging dimpled or close-up smile is wasted behind the pizmask. And of course, if you take off the mask after wearing it for long hours, you will have “airgasm.”
As good citizens, though, we comply, get a vaccine, wear the pizmask, and if by stroke of bad luck, one still gets Covid-19 and expires, as you reach the pearly gates of heaven, St. Peter will be there to say you’re going to have to quarantine in hell for a few weeks before you enter.
Sigh.

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