Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Who was that masked man?

When I was a second grader at London Elementary school in London, Ohio I had an after school routine that still resonates in me today, 67 years later. I would ride the bus home from school and rush into our home. After fixing myself a peanut butter sandwich I would sit down in front of our enormous black and white TV with the 10 inch screen and prepare to watch The Lone Ranger. I can still hear the theme music adapted from the William Tell overture. Each saga would pit good against evil. The masked man and his faithful side kick, Tonto, would happen upon some poor person in distress and set about righting the wrongs that seemed to be set upon this poor innocent soul. At the conclusion of the episode the person who was the beneficiary of this heroic act would pose the question to those nearby, "Who was that masked man ?". Then the theme music would cue and the credits would roll as the ranger and Tonto would ride up and over the hill to their next adventure.

Some years after that and 40 plus years ago from where I sit now I have another memory. I was working as a salesman in the town of Albany, GA. I had met my district manager there and thought it would be funny to meet him wearing a gas mask. I cannot remember the exact reason why I thought this was such a good idea. However, the mask wearing, was very well received and struck a cord of entertainment with my boss. He thought it was hilarious and referred back to it often over the 30 year career I had with our company. He had a great time years afterwards reciting the hilarity of my meeting him wearing the gas mask.

There were a few moments where I regretted ever having donned the mask. Don, the boss, talked me into wearing the mask into the main post office there in Albany. as I walked into the lobby, patrons and employees riveted their attention on me and gave me a wide berth. I walked to the window and asked to purchase some stamps. The clerk asked me what was the deal with the gas mask. I told him that it was a protest against air pollution. He was not amused. He sternly advised me that he did not think it was funny. He further pointed out to me that I was in a government facility and that I was lucky to escape being arrested for such a silly act. It gave me thoughtful reflection and regret. 

I know that banks and retail shops have paid extra scrutiny to any customers who present themselves while covering up facial features, even marginally, two months prior to now.

I find it ironic to our current state, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that you bring attention to yourself by electing not to wear a face mask of some variety. Indeed the question may be asked,
 " Who is that unmasked man?" In our current culture there are infectious disease experts all around us. Never mind that most either failed or never took basic Biology, not to mention micro-biology. Their expertise is garnered by non stop infusion of the news media feeding us a constant stream of how dangerous life  has become on the world stage of the corona virus outbreak. You look about you in an historically benign place such as a grocery store and you see people shuffling along wearing masks, gloves and, if they could have gotten them, bio-isolation garments. Indeed it looks like a scene from Zombie Apocalypse all around us.

It seems that if you wait around long enough everything is going to shift to the circular path of hearsay, marginal information, hype and power of suggestion. Is it better to have a plain belly or one decorated by a star? I suppose that Sylvester McMonkey McBean said it about as well as it can ever be said. You just can't teach a Sneech.