Nov 26, 2021


Reflections on covering up

By Ed Goldman

Since receiving my anti-COVID-19 booster shot—meaning I’ve now given Pfizer three chances to implant mind-control sera in my left arm—I’ve been a reluctant masker.

It’s not that I plan to join survivalists, morally opposed anti-vaxxers and the remaining members of the Duck Dynasty clan in a kumbaya rally any time in the likely future. 

Edgy Cartoon

You Come Here Coughin’?

It’s just that every time I tear off my mask after leaving a restaurant that required it to be worn to walk to the table, but not once I arrived and sat down at the table, I feel like I’m in an old episode of “Mission Impossible.”

I’m referencing  the TV show, not the series of films celebrating Tom Cruise’s dental work and do-your-own-stunt death wishes (Question: Did it ever bother you knowing that Paul Newman and Robert Redford didn’t really jump from a cliff into a river 50 feet below in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”? Me, neither. Someone should tell Cruise that hanging from a mountain ledge or off the wing of an airplane doesn’t make him a better actor—but it does deprive trained stuntmen of a payday).

Remember how a Mission Impossible team member used to triumphantly rip off his face mask to reveal he’d been impersonating a dictator in an unnamed Central American country? And remember how we always knew no such masks would have been that convincing, and that another actor had played the faux-dictator while the cast member dubbed in his own voice in post-production?

But we willingly suspended our disbelief, didn’t we?

That’s been a more difficult challenge with the mask mandate, which I fully support but whose inconsistencies are laughable. Take the parenthetical example I offered in Paragraph 3 about our needing to wear our masks to walk into an eatery and to our tables but not once we sit down at said tables. Does the threat of our being pandemic spreaders immediately vanish once we’re seated? Is it an altitude issue? If so, why don’t we all walk around in a permanent crouch—a la Groucho Marx, Bugs Bunny (who stole the walk from Groucho) and that lovesick bell-ringer Quasimodo (whose long-embargoed literary tell-all is about to be published: “I Always Had a Hunch About Victor Hugo”). 

The nonsense doesn’t end there. 

If you use the bathroom at a restaurant, you’ll often see a sign posted warning that employees MUST wash their hands before they return to work. One would like to believe they’d do that even without a sign demanding they do. But why aren’t customers told the same thing? Just putting our hands on the bathroom’s door knob is probably far more potentially lethal, germ-wise, than walking (at our full heights) to our tables.

The first time we were lulled into thinking the pandemic was over, I remember getting an occasional knot in my stomach when I’d walk into a store and someone wasn’t wearing a mask. Like most of you—and to paraphrase Henry Higgins—I’d grown accustomed to no face.

Anyway, now I’m fully vaccine-vested I wonder about the next outbreak of God-knows-what. Since we’ve all been through a lot for almost two years couldn’t it be something relatively benign—like (the following are all real, gleaned from the website

  • Foreign-language syndrome, which causes people to suddenly start speaking with an accent; 
  • Hyperekplexia, which “causes uncontrollable jumps and startle-induced falls” in reaction to particular stimuli ; or
  • Alien Hand Syndrome (also called Dr. Strangelove Syndrome. Seriously), which can prompt one to attempt self-strangulation. This may not sound “relatively benign,” as touted a few paragraphs back, but it’s nigh-impossible to choke yourself to death with your own hands. I know this from personal experience. I won’t provide details here but let’s just say some years ago I was dismayed to discover in a photo of myself that I was developing a double chin and thought I could manually reverse the process. On this, the day after Thanksgiving, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But strapping on a neck-mask might be easier.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).