Whatever its size and shape, please keep me guessing.
It happened again. It was one of those cloudless, light sweater days. My husband and I savored a break from the recent run of high humidity by stopping for coffee at an outdoor café on the Eastern Shore. I inhaled the aroma of freshly ground beans and wavered between cappuccino and mocha latte when our waiter appeared. He wore tight-skinned, designer denims, a black, clingy t-shirt, and a face mask that hung below his nose.
At about 6’2” with dark curly hair, he was hot. I would not have declined a peak at his pecs. But during this pandemic, how dare he expose his nose.
I don’t want to see anybody’s nose.
Enough with olfactory exhibitionism.
I don’t care if your nose is stubby like the snout of a puppy sniffing for crumbs under the kitchen table or like Michelangelo’s David, noble and worthy of marbleization.
It might hook upwards, towards the heavens, or skew downwards as if it were shy. Maybe it’s wide, stretching towards the corners of your lips when you smile, or fleshy, hawkish, bumpy, or just like Richard Nixon’s.
Whatever its size and shape, please keep me guessing. Don’t let me be the target of potentially diseased droplets thrusted forth when you sneeze.
Your nostrils might be adorned with 18-carat gold studs, or silver hoops inherited from your great-grandmother — sorry, I’m not going to admire them. Even if you have a privileged beak, chiseled by the hands of a gifted plastic surgeon, don’t expose it, you can send me a selfie later.
Until the pandemic passes — noses, like mouths, must remain incognito. A mask that exposes your proboscis, is more distasteful than workpants that ride down and expose your derriere. In fact, we can call it nose mooning.
Don’t you get it? Wearing a mask that falls below your schnozzle is like a child- proof medicine cap left unscrewed, a condom with holes, a seatbelt unbuckled, a firearm without a trigger lock.
Maybe pulling the mask below your nose is your way to rebel — to give the rest of us the proverbial middle finger. If so, you are acting selfish and self-centered, at a time when our tolerance for narcissism is depleted. You are not the only one who disdains wearing a face-cover. No one luxuriates in them, but we all benefit from them. It is not about individual comfort — it’s about containing that which has the potential to destroy.
Suck it up.
When we see you and your nose approaching, we try to get out of the way, but sometimes we can’t. Ironically, although you’re nonchalant about our health, we tiptoe around your feelings. Most of the time, we refrain from saying anything to you. Sometimes, we will try pointing to our own nose, hoping you’ll take the hint. Other times, with the soothing voice of a mother cajoling a child into a nap, we shift the blame to ourselves. “I’m sorry, I’m sure you do not realize it, but your mask has slipped below your nose. I’m vulnerable, can you please cover it up.”
My defense of choice is disguising admonition as a favor.
I said to my cafe waiter, “I see your mask doesn’t fit, I have an extra, would you like one?”
I carry a half a dozen of those blue disposable ones in my purse for this reason.
The pandemic will not last forever. When the vaccine is distributed and scientists signal an “all clear,” you can show me your sniffer, and I’ll show you mine.
Until then, please cover your nose.
©Copyright, Laura Black, 9/22/20
Laura Black is a freelance writer, lawyer, and businesswoman. You can find her work at www.laurablack.net.