Masks are a hot topic these days, and not just because today is Halloween.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone who is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
Even fully vaccinated people are advised to wear masks in settings in which they are in close contact with those who are not vaccinated.
Right here at home, Garfield County is an area of high transmission of the virus, so the CDC says, “Everyone should wear a mask in public indoor settings.”
The last local public indoor setting in which I found myself there were two people wearing masks, me and my bride. So much for the CDC recommendation.
I get it, people are sick of masks, which used to be reserved for doctors and nurses, trick-or-treaters and armed robbers, catchers and hockey goalies.
Tonight, in cities, towns and villages throughout this great country of ours, millions of little nippers will take to the streets wearing masks of all forms, from monsters and superheroes to cartoon characters and horror film villains.
When your doorbell rings Halloween night you don’t know if you will be confronted by the distorted visage of Freddy Krueger from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, or one of the lovable pups from TV’s “Paw Patrol.” Or perhaps Michael Myers, who came to infamy in the “Halloween” films, will be on your front porch holding the hand of Mickey Mouse.
Those kind of masks are fun, whether they are scary or adorable. The masks designed to keep us from catching or spreading COVID-19 are not fun but a necessity.
Many people don’t see them as such, however. To many, masks are a violation of their rights as Americans. Fine. So I will wear my mask to protect me from you, you from me and you from yourself.
Whether or not we sport surgical masks in public, we all wear masks every day, whether we realize it or not. We try to put our best face forward, to project an image of positivity and confidence, no matter what is going on in our lives. It’s not necessarily healthy, but it is what we do.
Act 2 of the musical “Phantom of the Opera” opens at a masked ball, and the assembled company dances and sings a song called simply “Masquerade.”
“Masquerade, paper faces on parade, masquerade,” the song begins, “Hide your face so the world will never find you.”
And the song continues, “Masquerade, seething shadows, breathing lies, masquerade, you can fool any friend who ever knew you.”
Some people sport a mask of honesty and integrity, when underneath there is a rotting veneer of deceit.
Some politicians wear a mask of sincerity to convince us they are looking out for our best interests, when all they want is to keep getting re-elected so they don’t have to get a real job.
Victims of abuse wear a mask of normalcy, covering the bruises and abrasions, hiding the fear and shame.
Some wear a mask of piety, while in private their actions speak more of the devil than a deity.
For many their smile is their mask, hiding the bottomless pit of sorrow they feel inside.
Pass someone on the street and ask yourself, who are they, what are they, are they happy, are they miserable? You’ll never know ... all that and more is hidden behind their mask.
Members of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last Jan. 6 wore masks. Some simply wanted to try and hide their identities, but many entered the building bare-faced — sporting a mask bespeaking their warped notion of patriotism, which merely hid their traitorous sedition.
That little devil who appears at your door begging candy tonight might be the most angelic child, while the one with the angel wings and halo might be a holy terror.
Don’t judge anyone by the mask he or she wears, and we all wear them, sometimes multiple masks every day, none of which have a thing to do with COVID-19 or the CDC.
How about trying another mask, one of kindness and understanding. Sure the waitress might have screwed up your order and made you wait an inordinate time for your meal, but you don’t know what she has to go home to.
Did your mother ever catch you making a funny face and say, “Don’t do that, your face will stick like that.” It won’t of course, but if you put on a smile and left it there, and your face did stick like that, how bad could that be?
Mullin is an award-winning writer and columnist who retired in 2017 after 41 years with the News and Eagle. Email him at email@example.com or write him in care of the Enid News & Eagle at PO Box 1192, Enid, OK, 73702.