I don’t know about everybody else, but I am officially done with this pandemic. D.O.N.E. This whole shelter-in-place, social distancing, online school thing is not good for a travel-obsessed, extroverted mom who wants her children out of the house.

Although perennially staying at home, not putting my arms around a friend and seeing my kids 24/7 are challenges, it’s the mask wearing that I find the most cumbersome. In addition to not being good for my skin, I find it difficult to breathe, often feeling claustrophobic. The biggest challenge is recognizing people when I do venture out. I truly hope I am never a secret witness to a heinous crime because there is no way I would be able to recognize anyone in a lineup. Put a face mask on the suspect, and the bad guy is for sure getting away. 

The women in my family are generationally klutzy. The mask, which blocks my downward peripheral vision, has not helped and has resulted in tripping even more than usual on our crappy sidewalks and streets. Sadly, my mom and daughter have experienced the same fate.

On the plus side, I was able to find a comfortable mask that fits my child-sized face. I take solace that my face mask hides my nose — an insecurity I’ve had since I was a child. I can pretend I was blessed with a perfect Roman proboscis and go forth in public, unencumbered by diffidence. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is that I know I’m saving lives. I’m not suggesting I’m Wonder Woman or Elastigirl, but who doesn’t have a slight hero complex?

I appreciate the efforts of others to save lives as well. I will walk happily into any establishment that demands I wear a mask or else entry will be forbidden. Accepting something that gives me huge discomfort comes from the fact that I don’t think it is my God-given right to not wear a face mask. 

There is little difference in wearing a condom to prevent your partner from getting an STD and wearing a face mask so the masses don’t continually spread a contagion that is causing sickness, death, sadness, closures of long-held establishments, historic unemployment and the near collapse of the world economy.

Discomfort is a small price to pay.

And, like many things that cause irritation, all it takes is a bit of getting used to. Case in point: Mask in tow, I recently did a large grocery run at the Kroger on Mockingbird. It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, which was an absurd day to go to the store. In addition to my long list, there was a large number of fellow shoppers — not like the throngs on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but certainly more than I had seen in quite some time.

I donned my mask as I walked out of my air-conditioned car and into the humid environs. Although I realize no one wants the visual, my face under my mask was dripping with sweat as I walked into the store. I, of course, wore the mask the entire time I shopped. That wasn’t such a great feat, I know. The big accomplishment for me was that I totally forgot I was wearing it. I even tried to take a sip from the coffee tumbler I brought with me into the store out of habit, not realizing my mouth was fully covered, as well as my nose because that is how we’re supposed to wear it.

Like many, if not all of us, I long for the days we all took for granted — shaking hands, blowing out candles to celebrate a birthday and hugging a close friend extra tight after a few too many.

When we finally get to the other side of this, who knows what it will look like? If we have extremely short-term memories, we’ll go back to our carefree ways of not obsessively washing our hands and not minding a bit of someone else’s spittle on a slice of birthday cake.

If we’re smart, we’ll remember we could have managed this so much better than we did. A little sacrifice goes a long way. Staying inside, waving a greeting, Zooming to school and wearing a face mask are nothing compared to the damage that was done by flouting the science.

Mita Havlick is neighborhood resident and Dallas Education Foundation director. Find her commentary regularly in the back pages of our print edition and online at lakewood.advocatemag.com.


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