spent a chunk of Wednesday at the dermatologist’s office, sitting in the waiting room. 

Twenty minutes cooling my heels typically isn’t fun, but this time there was entertainment, pandemic-style: A guy in his fifties who bristled at the receptionist offering him a disposable face mask.

“We’re requiring masks for everyone’s safety,” she explained. 

“Yeah, I’m sure this’ll fix everything,” said Mr. Tucked In Tommy Bahama Shirt. “You know these are dangerous, right?” 

He took a few steps toward the door, to leave in protest, then apparently changed his mind. Our hero settled for sighing and eye-rolling his way to a chair beneath the lobby flat screen, where, mask on, he commenced barking into his iPhone.

“If I sound muffled, it’s because they’ve got me wearing this stupid %$@^ing mask,” he told the poor soul on the other end of the phone.

It seems covering one’s face in public has become the latest flashpoint in our ongoing COVID-19 wars. 

 Expect many arguments to occur as our economy lurches back into motion, businesses begin reopening and hordes on both sides of this argument turn a simple act into a referendum on patriotism, freedom, manhood, civility, intelligence, common courtesy and anything else they can dream up and turn into a meme.

You know what wearing a mask really means? It means you’re wearing a mask. And pretty much nothing else. 

You know what not wearing a mask means? It means you’re not wearing a mask. And pretty much nothing else.

Anymore, as we split ourselves into warring tribes, we seek to invest with massive meaning all sorts of small acts that we hold out as proof we belong to this or that club.

 Mask wearers hold themselves out to be more evolved than those who refuse to wear a mask. Members of Team Breathe Free or Die think of themselves as outlaw badasses, freedom fighters willing to sacrifice buying raw almonds and toilet paper in bulk at Costco in service to their cause.

The truth? It’s just a mask, people. Get over yourselves. 

Medical science in large part has come down on the side of wearing a mask while in public and in close proximity to others as a way of slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

For me, that’s reason enough to cover my face if I’m going to the grocery store, or any potentially crowded spot.  I haven’t been wearing a mask when I’m walking the dog, going on a hike or playing golf.

In either case, it’s a decision predicated mostly on common sense and not at all on “what’s the message I’m sending?”

As for the Masked Avenger in my dermatologist’s office, he may still be sitting there grousing. 

To me, it should’ve been the least of his worries. After all, as everyone knows, only idiots tuck in Hawaiian shirts.

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