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Masked and Afraid

By Michelle Spencer

One of the perks of being an adult is that your brain and bladder work together, so you make it to the loo before you pee your pants. That is the case for most adults; I gave birth to four children, and my bladder took the brunt of the pregnancy. If I sneeze, laugh, cough, run, jump or sometimes bend down, there is definitely a leakage issue.

Have you ever seen a toddler squirming and contorting their body as a sign to their parents they need to use the potty? Of course! Because walking around with wet pants is a miserable feeling, and let’s not forget about the chaffing aftermath. Recently I have seen ads on my Facesnap account with adult diaper pop-up ads; I think the universe is telling me something.

We take for granted the luxury of a smart bladder and don’t have to worry about that feeling often. The other day, while in The Food Barn, I was reminded of what it must feel like to be a prisoner to your tinkle-soaked pants with nowhere to escape; I sneezed into my face mask. Oh no, it wasn’t a dainty, whispering, one finger under the nose sneeze; it was a pollen-filled turbine sneeze!

The force of the sneeze blew my mask clear across the Chef Boyardee display in the center aisle, and it landed in between the clearance Fourth of July napkins and the surplus mosquito repellent candles. Thank goodness for newly formed single lanes, or it could have landed in the happy face sculpted soda display, and that would have been trouble. All it takes is one bottle of soda to fall, and suddenly it’s like playing a giant game of dominoes in the street with an open fire hydrant but stickier.

I look up, maskless, and immediately aisle seven went into lockdown. Shoppers clutched their pearls and gasped in horror, one man jumped into his shopping cart and curled up into the fetal position. The manager commandeered the PA system, which was announcing the Barn deli specials of the week and squawked  “Code green in aisle seven.  Remain in your aisle, as close to the directional arrows as possible. Thank you and remember The Food Barn is here for you.”

Within seconds a hermetically sealed hygiene unit appeared. Actually, it was the produce manager and the lottery clerk, but they meant business and stood guard until my mask was put back on. An “all clear” was announced on the PA system, and a sigh of relief swept through the store.

Suddenly my nose feels a wetness inside the mask, and I realized that the sneeze had left its mark. I tried to wiggle my nose like Sabrina on Bewitched and suck my cheeks in like a fish face, but I couldn’t hide from the soaked innards. For a brief minute, I was tempted to grab a pack of diapers and wrap one around my face; let’s see just how absorbent these suckers are.

I managed to make it through the self-checkout with morphed speed and powerwalked towards the exit.  As I crossed the threshold to the outside, I felt like Rocky on the courthouse steps. I ripped off my mask and sucked in as much air as one could without passing out.

Nowadays, I have learned from my mistakes from the past and maintain the golden three rule. Always have a backup mask in your pocketbook, never shop during allergy season and, most importantly, use double-sided tape on the inside of your mask to avoid mishaps.

— Michelle Spencer

Michelle Spencer is average but adventurous woman with a chaotic but lovable family who enjoys writing what she experiences.

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