Who IS that masked man? Why, it's me! Count on it.

Dang, I must’ve missed the memo.

Naw, not the memo reiterating ad nauseam that it’s gauche to wear white after Labor Day, that stripes and plaids don’t mix and not to talk with your mouth open while eating – especially if Oreos are involved.


Yuck.


I’m talking about the memo alerting us to the fact that wearing masks has now become optional because the danger posed by Covid-19 has dissipated.


You know why we didn’t receive such a memo?

Because it has not been released by any reputable sources.

Two-and-a-half years after covid-19 was identified, people are still getting sick from it, still dying from it, according to the World Health Organization and obituaries that you can read in your daily newspaper.


No, not at the rate they were at its peak, but covid and its variants remain a clear and present danger.

You’d never know it by the number of people who eschew masks, which remain an effective way to halt covid’s transmission.


Remember that time Fred Sanford ended up with two women - Carol and Donna - at his home for dinner and launched into a long prayer to delay the inevitable confrontation?

Lamont: But Pop, we never pray...

Fred: Like my mother always said - it don’t hurt none.



Same with masks.

Even if there weren’t copious data from The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, the W.H.O. and the CDC, among others showing that masks are effective, wearing them “don’t hurt none.” Oh, it might smudge your makeup a little bit, but it'll still look better than the makeup the undertaker would've put on you.


Won’t it be too bad when future generations, wondering why more than one million people in the U.S. died of covid-related illnesses, ask why so many refused to wear masks?

Their only conclusion will be “Well, some people felt wearing a piece of cloth across their nose and mouth while out in public violated their constitutional rights.” Also, as we learned from The Lone Ranger, some people think you're up to no good if you wear a mask.




I don’t know about you, but I love my mask and have learned to disregard or even revel in the nasty looks it provokes from people who think it’s an overreaction to a threat that has been neutralized – if, indeed, it ever even existed.


Mrs. Haynes, a tailor in Creedmoor, makes them in flesh colors - any flesh color - so it doesn't even look like you're wearing one until someone is right up on top of you - which they shouldn't be if they're social distancing like Dr. Fauci told us to. (You can find her ad elsewhere in The Saunders Report and she'll mail them to you.)


If you’re a masker, you, too have probably noticed the fish-eye non-maskers give you. Why, it’s as though they take our mask-wearing as a personal affront.

Take the unmasked man behind the counter at the renowned Durham barbecue joint who smirked and shook his head exasperatedly at me last month before barking “I cain’t hear you if you gon’ wear that thang on your mouf” as I tried to order a chopped ‘cue sammitch with coleslaw.


Under normal circumstances, he’d have been tolt where to stick that ‘cue, but your faithful correspondent was hungry and bit his tongue so he could bite the sammitch.


But how much do I love my mask?

So much that I’ve composed - to the tune of Luther Ingram’s paean to pain If Loving You is Wrong – a soulful ode to it. (For maximum effect, you have to sing it or put Luther on in the background while reading it.) Maestro, hit it:


If wearing you is wrong

I don’t want to be right.

If being right means doing without you

I’d rather live a mask-wearing life.


Your mama and daddy say it’s a shame

It’s a downright disgrace.

He must have something he’s trying to hide

If he won’t let you see his face.


Your friends tell you it’s no future

in loving a mask-wearing man

If he never takes it off

Does that mean he’s in the klan?


Am I wrong to hunger

for the gentleness of its touch?

Knowing I’m gon’ wear it every day,

even when I go to chuch?



Am I wrong to wear it

When it’s 95 degrees in the shade?

I’ll just drill a hole in the mouth

And sip some lemonade.

Am I wrong to wear it

Even if it makes you mad?

Naw –cos I’m just trying to hold on

To the only life I’ve ever had.


And am I wrong to wear it

pulled tightly over my nose

Knowing I got different ones at home

That match every color of my clothes?


And am I wrong to wear it

Even when it covers my head?

Yep, cos I’d rather wear it and sweat

than to one day wake up dead.

If wearing you is wrong

I don't wanna be right.

If wearing you is wronnnnnng

I don't want to be right.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  

BEYOND THE REPORT

Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 

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