girl with typewriter

Sunny Side Up

               There was a boy in one of my classes last semester who wore a blue mask. He proved an enjoyable source of entertainment for me because, as the semester wore on, I began to notice something strange about the blue mask. It changed size. It changed shape. At the beginning of the semester, it was a nice homemade mask that fit well. By the end of the semester, it had shrunk from numerous washings and was wrinkled beyond recognition. The mask was never where it was supposed to be. It climbed up his chin until it was above his mouth, then fell down until it looked like a blue beard. This was not how I expected to entertain myself through my first semester of college, but none of our expectations met reality, right?

               One of my favorite moments of mask entertainment is when professors try to facilitate class discussion. It usually goes something like this.

Professor: Josh, what do you think about this topic?

Josh: Mmm-hommm-bwam-remm.

Professor: I’m sorry Josh, can you speak up?

Josh: Mmm-HOMMM-bwm-REMM!

Professor: I’m sorry Josh, I have no idea what you’re saying.

*Entire class sighs in unison*

Josh: *Pulls down mask, shouts* I said, could you repeat the question?

Just one of the many things I never imagined about college. Until 2020, I never imagined sticking your nose out of a mask would turn into the ultimate symbol of freedom. If a year ago one of my friends had said, “I’m going to be a rebel and breathe fresh air through my nose,” I would have just stared at them. Now I just accept it for what it is.

Recently I reached my classroom on the second floor of Beadle panting, and found my classmate holding his mask away from his face.

He gave me a sheepish smile. “You know that moment when you have to take off your mask after climbing the Beadle stairs?”

I tried to reply but instead collapsed into my seat, nodding vehemently in agreement.   

There are many things about masks that I have resigned myself to at this point. One of them is a perpetual state of chapped lips and thirst. It’s so stressful to drink water with a mask on! It was awkward enough before the pandemic: you have to unzip the backpack (zzzzzerp!), take the lid off of the water bottle (scr-scr-scr-screee), and take a drink in front of everybody (glug glug glug). Like I said, awkward. But now added into the mix is the feeling of being a public hazard the minute you pull down your mask to take a drink.

 Does anyone else ever…

  • Find yourself creepily staring at a person’s nose and mouth the first time you see them without a mask?
  • Get angry if someone tries to be conversational while you’re studying with a mask on? It’s supposed to be extra introvert protection, right?
  • Realize you’ve been in your dorm room or in the car for half an hour and are still wearing your mask?
  • Find yourself doing strange things with your mouth behind your mask? I don’t know if it’s to entertain my tired brain or simply because the mask feels strange on my face, but I’m constantly opening and closing my mouth underneath it. I tell myself nobody can see it but in reality I’m sure they are thinking, “What does that girl think she is, a fish?”

What do you do when you hate something but it keeps you safe? The only answer I’ve found is to laugh about it. And sometimes, masks are helpful for other reasons. I will leave you with a final thought: has anyone else noticed that if you wear a gaiter pulled up high enough and a ballcap, no one will be able to tell if you fall asleep in class?

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