Tribal Masks

This time last year, the only people who wore masks were surgeons, bank robbers, people who wanted to add some forbidden fruit to their adult activities and the Lone Ranger.  How times have changed!  These days, we all have one.  (Of course, there are people who don’t, but I’m not going to antagonize those folks: they’re oddly aggressive about it.)  Personally, I think there’s a major upside to everybody wearing a mask.  Yeah, yeah, yeah!  There’s that whole health thing, but in these tribal times (we all seem to belong to an identifiable group!) it’s a cool shorthand to recognize who you’re dealing with.  Here are just a few examples.

Not The Nose – These are the people who genuinely want to follow the protocols but haven’t quite figured out that the nostrils are connected to the lungs.

Neck-warmers – Apparently, some people believe that the mere presence of a mask anywhere in the vicinity of the face will stop the virus – sort of like a string of garlic wards off vampires.

The Paper Pusher – These are the folks who bought a package of 10 paper masks at the drugstore back in April, and even though it’s a little dirty and the elastic’s kinda worn out, are still using the first one.

I Have A Message – Sometimes these masks feature innocent stuff like sports logos or brand names, but there are also a bunch of other itty-bitty walking billboards out there with an in-your-face/on-your-face political or social agenda.  Okay, folks!  I’ll tell you what: right now, I’m trying to navigate my way through this godawful pandemic, but the minute I do, I promise I’ll “Make America Great Again,” “Save The Whales,” “Defund The Police,” “Stop Climate Change” and “Free Ed Snowden.”  I will!  Really!

The Virtue Signaller – These are the people whose mask was woven by Syrian refugees using a traditional Bedouin loom.  It’s made of sustainable wool from a free-range desert flock and features an ancient geometric folk pattern.  The problem is despite its morally superior lineage, it looks just like every other mask.  This forces the wearer to annoy everybody with a detailed explanation of the who, what, where and why of the damn thing.  (Thank God for social distancing!)

The D.I.Y. Guy – This fellow made his own mask in his workshop out of a reclaimed wooden pallet.  It took him three weeks — evenings and weekends — and didn’t cost a cent if you discount the 22 thousand dollar investment in power tools.  It has a beautiful, high-gloss butterfly burl wood finish, weighs 2 kilos (5 pounds) is utterly useless and looks like Bane (from Batman) has a younger brother. 

The D.I.Y. Girls – The younger ones made their own masks out of spare pieces of fabric they had left over from their on-line multi-media art workshop.  They’re put together with bits of twine from an old macramé hanging basket and there are other individually handcrafted ones (including child sizes) available on Etsy.   The older ones made theirs out of a used milk jug and the plastic rings from a soda pop six-pack.  They were cut out with an Exacto knife, hot-glued together and decorated with spray-painted macaroni.  There’s a How-to video available on YouTube — if you’re so inclined.

I’m a Patriot – These are the flag guys — and they’re mostly guys — mostly American and mostly a pain in the ass.

I’m Rich – These are the people who wear the Burberry tartan, the Louis Vuitton fabric or a discreet YSL logo on their cheek.  Nothing says “I’ve got more money than you” than paying $150.00 for a 5-by-10 piece of cloth and an elastic band — when you can get the same thing on Amazon for 12 bucks.

I’m Really A Funny Person – These masks are the facial equivalent of the Dad joke.  They have such hilarious features as buck teeth, a handlebar moustache, fangs, cigars and wandering tongues.  Like the toilet paper jokes, these things were slightly cute last summer, but here in the winter of our discontent, they’re just annoying.

And finally:

I’m a Badass – These are the guys who found an old bandana in their underwear drawer and thought (despite tons of evidence to the contrary) they should show the world just how kick-ass cool they still are by wearing it instead of a mask.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing quite as sad as seeing an aging Easy Rider climbing into a minivan at the Mall.

Pure Sex – These are those hyper-female women who’ve decided masks are actually lingerie.  Hey, ladies!  Unlike man-catcher underwear, lace is not that effective in this situation.

Parsley — My New Life Coach!

Here — in the dreary winter of Covid-19 — I’ve decided to quit listening to the news, the pundits, the experts, social media mavens and those lower-than-low-life influencers.  From here on, I’m taking my life strategy — from parsley.  No, I haven’t become a Lockdown Loonie.  Nor have I gone mutant Dr. Doolittle and started talking to the vegetables.  But I’m telling ya for a fact that parsley says all there needs to be said about how to live life in these troubled times.

First of all, you need a little background.  We live in a large urban area, but my wife is originally from cattle country.  (Where she’s from, they eat steak for dessert.)  Unfortunately, the only wide-open space we have is a medium-sized balcony/deck.  But rather than bitch about the lack of “land, lots of land, ‘neath the starry skies above,” every year, my wife rounds up a bunch of pots and creates a herb ranch – the “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” variety.  We eat like medieval kings, and she gets to channel her inner Jesse Chisholm.

Okay, so today, after what seems like a lifetime of gloom with an extra portion of doom thrown in, I was looking around for something to satisfy my optimistic soul.  Good luck with that!  Anyway, by pure chance, I noticed the parsley.  It’s been sitting there on the deck, in its pot, nice boy, since last spring.  It’s part of the landscape — like the rosebush, the patio table and that gate slat I haven’t fixed (OMG, has it been 2 years?).  But – here’s the deal — it isn’t supposed to be there.  It’s winter: parsley dies in the winter.  And in Canada, we do winter like nowhere else on this planet.  Think Siberia, and drop the temperature by 10 degrees.  Our polar bears get frostbite, for God’s sake.  There are parts of this country that are colder than Mars.  (That’s true, BTW.)  Even here in Vangroovy (the garden spot of the Great White North) our below zero can be double digits.  So, what the hell was the parsley doing there?

They say a good leader always leads by example, and what better example of straight in-your-face badass is a plant whose lifespan is April to September, still green as moldy cheese, in the middle of winter?  Even Vin Diesel isn’t that tough.  This little guy is defying the laws of Mother Nature, Father Time and Old Man Winter — just by being there.  Whether his purpose in the world is getting chopped up for soup, sprinkled on mashed potatoes or used as a decorative garnish to be thrown away without another thought — he’s doin’ it.  He’s doin’ it every day — without fail — to the best of his ability.  Without fanfare or flourish, that parsley plant is telling the universe “I’m still standing.”  And in these dismal dark days, that’s pretty damn good advice.

Everybody’s Talking …

English is a wonderful language.  It can be as precise as a surgeon’s scalpel or as broad as a two-handed claymore.  It can describe anything or leave everything to your imagination.  In fact, English is so kickass we can say things without ever actually even saying them!  For example, when your wife/girlfriend says, “Are you going to wear that?” you know she’s really saying, “There is no way in Hell you’re leaving this house dressed like that.”  It’s a beautiful bit of linguistic gymnastics that people use all the time.  Here are a few more examples.  (With translations.)

“Sorry I’m late.”
Translation — I hate these morning meeting, I hate this job and I hate you.  The only reason I even dragged my sorry ass out of bed is I’ve got a car payment and a massive student loan hanging over my head.

“I know I’m only going to be gone for a couple of days, but I’m really going to miss you.”
Translation — Any chance of having sex before I leave?

“No offence …”
Translation — I’m going to offend you.

“… no offence.”
Translation — I’m covering my ass just in case I’ve already offended you.

“I’m vegan.”
Translation — I want to talk about me.

“I don’t judge.”
Translation — What you just told me is totally weird, and it caught me completely off guard.  So, rather than saying something unfortunate and sounding like an insensitive jerk, I’m going to shut up now and hope you change the subject.

“Do you need any help?”
Translation — Please, please, please, please, for the love of God, please– say no.

“Do these jeans make me look fat?”
Translation — I’ve spent all day dealing with perky salesgirls, women’s sizes are works of fiction, nobody has any decent colours and my bra is cutting me in half.  The least you could do is take 5 seconds and tell me I’m sexy.

“It’s really not that bad.”
Translation – Wow!  Are you ever screwed!

“That’s okay: I’m a good listener.”
Translation — This is the longest sob story in history.  Now I know how Mandela felt.

“My children are my whole life.”
Translation — Five minutes!  All I want is five minutes.  I haven’t even gone to the toilet in peace in 2 years.  Five minutes!  Is that too much to ask?

“I’ll remember that.”
Translation — I’m too busy/lazy to write this down, and I’m going to kick myself in a couple of days.

“We’ve put together a pretty solid financial plan that will get us out of debt in a couple of years.”
Translation — The grandparents haven’t died yet.

“Have you lost weight?”
Translation — Call me scum, but I’m so glad you’re fatter than I am.

“I’m a people person.”
Translation — I don’t have any marketable skills.

And finally one of the most common ones:

“We need to get together/do lunch/go for drinks, soon/more often/sometime in the vague future.”
Translation — We’re connected by circumstances and you seem like a nice person, so let’s play pretend for a few minutes — until we can go back to our real lives.