There I was, sitting in the groove in my couch that I had perfected over the last year and the governor of our state says there’s no more mask mandate. We can go out, be free, fly like the other little birds who don’t have to wear a mask either. Wait. What? I had just reviewed my summer hunker down plan to include solitary walks around a few of the lakes in the city, solo trips to the beach, possibly a road trip up north to a rented cabin-all by myself of course.  Time spent with friends would be outdoors only and then perhaps in the fall we could resume indoor activities. Of course the only thing we do is eat at restaurants, but tell ourselves that we’re engaged in some kind of useful activity.

What I really thought would happen is that there would be a more gradual easing into unmasked activity. First it would be outdoor restaurants, then move indoors to eat. Vacations would be masked up to the point of departure at the airport then we could go bare faced upon arrival in some magical land where Covid wasn’t the case.

What I really, really wanted was a much longer time to prepare for going mask-less. By prepare, I mean that I would become motivated enough to work out and lose the extra pounds acquired with some of the deceptions I had practiced during quarantine. Things like “Couch time is ME time!” “There’s no need for real pants here, sweat pants are just fine.” “You’ll get lots of exercise once the gyms open up again.” “Sea salt caramels have more vitamins than you think.” Every addict has their rationale down pat. I was no exception. It’s not just that I have to face the music, I have to get out on the dance floor and jump, jive and wail.

The prospect of real clothes brings the further dread of make up and some semblance of hair care. With a mask on I could, and did, tell myself that others understood the wisps and tendrils that stuck out was because of the mask. Now that we’ll be operating in real time, I’m gonna have to comb my hair. The no mask mandate also portends a return to regular hygiene practices that had fallen by the wayside. There was no need to shower on the daily because Zoom world is only visual. Thank goodness there is no Smell-O-Vision. I was going to have to brush up on things necessary to enter polite social circles, similar to a young teenage boy. Many of them need a reminder checklist and I was feeling like I needed one too. Things like: take a shower and while you’re in there, wash your hair, wash your face, use soap everywhere, dry yourself off with a towel and wear clean clothes. I’m grateful to a 12-year old nephew that regularly needs these reminders so I didn’t have to try and come up with my own list.

Re-acquiring the habits of how to be with others will prove worthwhile. I hope to have mastered enough of these skills so I can be out and about without my mask. I’m looking forward to the time when the only thing people will find unacceptable is my sarcasm.