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Mask on

With COVID-19 on the loose, I heard it is a good idea to start wearing a mask. So, I rounded up a bunch of filter-type materials to make one. My three finalists were a drip coffee filter, an polyester scarf and a vacuum bag (from my stockpile of bags for my old Hoover).

The coffee filter was too small and the scarf was too flimsy. The vacuum bag was big, sturdy and designed to keep the dirt in. I figured it would make a dandy barrier for any Covid spit I might spew.

Making the mask was a cinch. I cut out the shape, then used a stapler to attach the elastic ear bands (which I scavenged from a sleeping mask).

Putting on the mask, I had trouble working the elastic loops. My big ears made it a real stretch to get the bands to latch on. One pull too many, and the staples came loose. Let me tell you, the elastic snap-back stung like the devil.

I've been wearing the mask anytime I go out. I like the look; it puts all the focus on my eyes and not so much on my mouth. One good thing I noticed is this: it makes me listen more and talk less. I tend to gab on and to slip into off-subject topics. But with my mouth covered, most of what I say is so muffled, nobody hears the unimportant stuff. My husband is happy about that.

The mask has one problem - sneezing into it is an explosive adventure. One achoo and the mask has gotta be washed.

For washing, I pick the superhot, sanitary cycle, with "low" spin. Then I close my eyes and pray the thing will come out okay. It always does. Hanging it up to dry, I notice it has a fresh-n-flowery laundry detergent scent.

So, if you are leery about wearing a mask, thinking "it's just not me," I say reconsider. We're dealing with killer COVID-19 here; a mask is just the thing you need. Make one up - make up several so you can rotate them. Then, imagine you are a brave soldier going into battle and don it like a badge. Wearing a mask might not be your style. But do it anyway. Do it because the poor slobs around you need you to. You might not like how you look in it, but maybe with it on, you will talk less and listen more.

- Marie Lemond

Marie Lemond is an essayist in Washington whose work has appeared in Country Magazine.

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