I reach into the canvas tote on the coatrack, hoping one of the good masks is available. This fall, the school gave us a mask that’s soft. It’s also adjustable, with loops that adjust for each ear and a lanyard to go around your neck. They gave us the opportunity to order more. Since it fit so well and was so comfortable, my family order a bunch of them.
My youngest son always seems to get to the mask bag first in the mornings, and he always chooses one of these masks. Sometimes, I feel jealous if I’m stuck with one of the elastic banded masks that tugs at my ears all day.
One of my colleagues borrowed her daughter’s mask. It’s so dense that she feels suffocated by it. Good for effectiveness, not so great for projecting one’s voice over a classroom full of students.
I don’t think I could have imagined having a favorite mask a year ago. (Remember back then, when we thought masks weren’t effective against COVID?)
What makes a mask a favorite?
It needs to fit my ears. There’s nothing worse than that low grade headache after a day (or an hour) of demanding elastic bending your ears, stealing my thoughts, like those blaring commercials blasting from the gas pump as I fill up my car. I don’t want my mask to interfere with listening to you.
It needs to be effective at its job. If it’s too thin and my breath passes easily through it (Can I blow out a candle while wearing it?), then what’s the point? But it also can’t suffocate me. Honestly, I haven’t had a lot of problems in this area. I don’t know if my lungs are strong from running, if I’m used to running with a face covering during our frigid Michigan winters, or what. I haven’t tried double-masking or run into a mask that left me gasping, but I know some have. Their voices muffled and unheard. I want to be able to communicate clearly.
It needs to fit the nose too. I like the masks with the wire that wraps around the bridge of my nose. It just feels better. I wish my students’ masks all had this feature. There are a handful who just can’t keep their nostrils contained in a mask. They’re willing to pull it up when I ask, but I get annoyed when I have to keep asking. It’s like a signal that they’ll wear a mask, but they don’t really care. Wearing a mask properly is an easy way to show others you care.
It needs to look good. Okay, so I’m including this, but I don’t care too much about matching my mask to my clothes. I rarely look in a mirror, so unless someone is so uncouth as to tell me my mask doesn’t match, I’ll never know. The masks we choose and how we wear them can communicate a lot, though. Right?
For what it’s worth, I did get one of my favorite masks today.
P.S. I wonder how many tweets, blog posts, and articles have written about the (metaphorical) masks we wear while writing about the (literal) masks we wear.