During this “age of the mask,” are we on the verge of becoming a people who ritualistically carry masks with us wherever we go? Will it perhaps become generally understood that the wise person always keeps two masks with him at all times?

Now that we have seemingly settled into the “age of the mask,” maybe it’s high time for a little levity mixed in with a little ingenuity. Here’s hoping so.

The consensus seems to be that masks are the order of the day indoors. At least that’s the case when we’re standing up. When we’re seated in a restaurant or coffee shop, we can be maskless. Outdoors the rules and routines are somewhat looser.

Still, a mask could be a good idea when one is in the open air. There a mask might not be required, but it still could come in handy. Therefore, it might be a good idea to keep a mask on hand at all times—and not simply because you could be reprimanded by a masked citizen. In fact, it might even be a good idea to keep multiple masks with us as we proceed through our days.

Not long ago, while visiting my in-laws, I walked maskless to a neighborhood Dunkin’ Donuts. But as I approached the store, on came the mask. So there I was, entering properly masked, while eagerly anticipating a coffee and a donut. Apparently, I was a little too eager, because I left masked, but sleeveless. By that I mean the hot coffee cup was sleeveless. What to do, I wondered, as I began walking back to my in-law’s home. My solution was right at hand. Off came the mask, and suddenly I had a makeshift sleeve for my coffee cup!

Then there is the problem of eating outdoors. More to the point, there is the problem of eating outdoors on a sunny day when your table lacks an umbrella and you lack both a full head of hair and a cap. Recently, that was my problem. But I soon solved matters, because I had not been caught without my mask. Since we were outdoors, all that I needed to do was hook my mask under my ears, while stretching it over the top of my head.

A friend of mine happens to have a garden in a neighbor’s backyard. Stopping to check things out, he noticed that some cherry tomatoes were primed to be picked. Rather than head home to retrieve a sack, he simply pulled out—or perhaps off—his mask, and he instantly had a handy tomato carrier.

There you have it: three ready-made impromptu uses for masks. I’m sure that I’ve just scratched the surface of unmasking potential mask uses. Of course, masks could also be pressed into service to serve as handkerchiefs or brow wipers. They could also function as low-voltage slingshots or talk-of-the-town bandanas.

No doubt the possibilities are endless. Who knows when and how someone might suddenly put a good mask to good use? When was the last time you had to check your oil only to be caught without a handkerchief or a tissue—or a mask?

And think of teenagers plagued by acne and either in need of braces or saddled with braces. A mask might be the perfect solution.

Of course, masks are not without their uses as masks—and for purposes that have nothing to do with retarding the spread of a virus. Each of us could no doubt come up with innumerable reasons/occasions to want/need to suppress a smile/frown.

This is especially so when one is indoors and face-to-face with friend or foe, clerk or customer, service provider or service recipient. There are always circumstances when a mask can come in handy, even—nay especially—when a mask is serving its intended purpose, while simultaneously serving some other purpose entirely.

So who knows? Maybe there won’t have to be a national mask mandate after all. Maybe we’re on the verge of becoming a people who ritualistically carry masks with us wherever we go. Maybe it will become generally understood that the really wise person always keeps two masks with him at all times.

And then there are those who might be less wise, meaning those who might seek to use a mask to make a statement, whether a political statement or a fashion statement. In such cases two masks might be the minimum.

Of course, both masks could be used the old-fashioned way, namely to cover one’s face to help halt a pandemic. But at any given moment another mask would always be available to be pressed into service for who knows what purpose.

And if that previously unknown purpose arises? What then? If you’re masked and your other mask is already performing a separate duty, what then?

Makeshift mask stands are already sprouting up. Could this be the start of a real growth industry, given our makeshift uses of masks? Such an industry might even produce its own ad campaign complete with such slogans as: Keep multiple masks with you at all times. If you’re masked, don’t be caught otherwise maskless. Three masks are always better than one. And… who is that masked man, and what is he doing with that other mask?

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The featured image is courtesy of Pixabay.

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