Hey, I get it, I really do. You’re young, you’re healthy and you think you’re invincible, so masks are unnecessary except at Halloween parties with a lame medical theme.
Every afternoon around 4 o’clock, I walk the dog. She needs to maintain her relationship with fire hydrants, grass and foliage, and I desperately need to get out of the house. I am never without a mask, even though they fog up my glasses and I look like a befuddled, inappropriately dressed surgeon who got lost on his way to the OR.
It seemed like quite a lot of you wore them at first, but gradually many of you stopped. I don’t know if this is because you’re unable to grasp the notion that their purpose is to protect others (and to an extent, you) or because the Insta vendors ran out of cool colors or because you’re too vain to allow a mask to obscure your Look-At-Me-I’m-Like-So-Hot-I-Can’t-Stand-It facial features.
Some of you even persist in walking down the middle of the sidewalk, so it is I who must scurry into the street to achieve the mandatory 6-foot distance. My dog isn’t wild about that either. She prefers grass to pavement.
As for you maskless joggers — do you not realize that your heavier than normal exhalations are sending a virtually continuous Hollywood spit take into the atmosphere? The sun is out, but it’s raining horizontally.
Here’s the thing. If one of you gives it to me, I could give it to five of your friends before I take that scenic ride in the COVID-19 freezer truck.
I used to think I was invincible too until I got a godawful case of the Swine Flu when I was 25 and spent a week crawling to the bathroom, eating carpet pile on the way and asking my friends if they knew any weed dealers who sold cyanide.
Guess what? COVID-19 is a LOT worse than Swine Flu. I know a 21-year-old guy — no health problems, works out, even eats kale — who got it, and he said the misery was so intense it felt like an invisible psychotic wearing steel-toed boots was kicking every inch of his body incessantly for two weeks while holding his head in a convection oven set on “BAKE.” Also, his lungs had made it clear that they would prefer to live outside of his body.
Here’s another unpleasant surprise for you. Where I live, in Los Angeles, almost three times as many people between 0 and 40 have been testing positive than the over-65 group. Sure, we senior types croak more often, but the rising ratios don’t look so great for you, either.
Which is not to say that my generation is perfect. Far from it. For starters, we destroyed the planet, which, granted, was kind of a screw-up. And those who occupy the seats in the cretin section of our age group don’t wear masks, either.
But most of us who do wear masks don’t think we’re invincible anymore, and we’ve been around long enough to know that you’re not, either. I realize it’s hard for a 20-year-old to imagine, but one day, just like us, the topics that will inevitably creep into your conversations will be about colonoscopies, MRIs and the heartbreak of psoriasis.
Granted, it’s wonderful to feel invincible. Cherish it while it lasts, but don’t push your luck — wear the damn mask.
John Blumenthal, an author and former magazine editor, has also written for Salon and Huffington Post.
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