I haven’t really complained about wearing a mask over the last six months. Nor will I. In fact, I’ll probably go on wearing a mask in busy places for the rest of my life. As Batman said, the mask isn’t to protect me. It is to protect those I care about. Yes, I, a fully grown man just seriously quoted Batman.
I have no problem with donning one to go into a shop or while I am in a shopping centre. Yes, it might be uncomfortable around the ears sometimes and hearing someone through a mask and the added plexiglass to protect our front line workers, but they are such small grievances that they really shouldn’t matter. So shut up, wear your mask and socially distance yourself from people to keep everyone safe.
I was finally confronted with the reality we are now living in the other day though. Of course I have seen myself with the mask on. I have three or four masks that I use and know that I look OK in. However, I haven’t been looking at myself the whole time I’ve been wearing the protective gear.
I felt that it was high time I got a haircut (My mother kept on at me to get a haircut and I finally relented). Katie had given me two or three good haircuts but I thought it was best to get over the anxiety of being in close contact with a complete stranger and just let him cut my hair!
I went down to a new barbershop in Blackpool called The House of Handsome. The name seemed fitting for a beautiful, humble man such as myself. They opened just before the lockdown started. It has been an incredibly tough start for them but that is why it is so important to support local now.
The barber told me I could leave the mask on if I wanted as I wasn’t doing anything with my beard. All the barbers were wearing masks and there were plastic dividers between the customers who were getting their hair cut. As I sat down I realised that this would be the longest I would spend looking at myself with a mask on. My first proper haircut since March and I was about to have an identity crisis. Fantastic!
As I sat there I started thinking about how we were living through one of the disaster movies we had seen on television growing up. It would normally be a late night film on RTÉ 2 or Film4. The world would be ending and people would be running around, screaming their heads off. The reality is so different and a bit more manageable. Sure, the world is going to be irreparably damaged by climate change by 2030 and a virus is slowly picking us off in waves, but we are adapting. Most of us, bar a select group of morons with factions in every country, are wearing our masks. We are getting by with a new sense of camaraderie with our fellow human, all of us joined in this new normal. The end of the world is no less terrifying when you sit down and think about it, but at least we are getting through it together. I found it funny how we have just got on with things. I know cases are rising around the country but for the most part the ordinary person is doing really well. The mask is just an added component of caring for your friends, family and neighbours. The mask might feel uncomfortable, but you can still get up in the morning and go about your business. You can still do your shopping and you can still get your hair cut. Please wear your masks, social distance and keep positive.