In this day and age, nothing is normal. Nothing is like it was a year ago. Nothing is like it’s supposed to be. And nothing says ‘not normal’ more than being forced to wear a mask at work and in public. As of this writing, I’ve only been photographed one time with a mask on. But I’m in a large group of first responders, waaay in the back, and you’d never pick me out in the crowd. My mask policy is this; I wear a mask when I’m legally required to wear one, and I don’t wear a mask when I’m not legally required to wear one. But remember, you do you.
I got to thinking about how my mask has become like my shadow. It goes with me everywhere I go. If I leave it in the car, I have to go back and get it. If I leave it at work, I have to go back and get it. If I leave it in a restaurant, I have to go back and get it. So I decided to let my mask have the floor this month and tell everyone what it’s like to hang out with me all day, every day.
My day usually starts like this.
“Chuck, get up. Chuck, its 6:30 in the morning. Chuck, wake up! If I could make waterfall and rushing water noises, I’d make them right now. That would get you up in a hurry.”
I roll out of bed on my second attempt, and enjoy my morning for an hour or so. I enjoy it because I don’t have to wear a mask when I’m in my own home. When I’m ready to leave the house, I hear; “Oh boy, a car ride. I love car rides. Can I hang on the rearview mirror like all the other cool kids? Can I, huh, huh, can I?” Did I mention that my mask is kind of annoying?
Before work, I need to stop at one of those big box stores across the street from my small box store. You know the place I’m talking about; the only place on the planet where you can’t catch ‘the rona’, but still have to wear a mask anyway. As I walk into Walmart, the mask-police, stationed at the front door, inform me that I was not allowed to enter without ‘my mask’. Then all hell broke loose.
“Mask? What did he just call me? Did he just call me ‘mask’? My name is Darrell! What’s wrong with him? Tell him my name, Chuck. Tell him my name is Darrell.”
I whisper, “Now, now, lighten up Darrell, he doesn’t know any better. He sees lots of masks, errr, lots of people like you every day. It’s kind of like saying dogs are not allowed, instead of saying Fido or Rover is not allowed. It’s no big deal.”
“Yeah, well, when that guy last week called you Billy, you corrected him and told him your name was Chuck.”
I replied, “True, but because I was wearing you, he thought I really WAS Billy. And Billy owed him money. And he wanted to fight Billy for the money. And, if I recall, he said he was gonna punch me right in the Darrell. You wouldn’t have liked that.”
“Maybe, but I thought we were buds now. I just thought you’d like to introduce me around sometime to your friends.”
I think Darrell misunderstands our relationship.
After Walmart, we went to work and spent the day together. It was a bunch of, “that’s not how I’d do it,’ or, ‘whatever, you’re the *air quotes* professional.” Darrell didn’t like what we had for lunch. Darrell didn’t like the polishing dust he had to endure. Darrell didn’t like not getting his union mandated 15 minute afternoon break. Did I mention Darrell complains a lot?
At closing time, since it was beer-thirty, we decided to go to the local watering hole together. After I parked and got halfway to the door, I could hear a faint noise coming from my car. It sounded like my name being drawn out while being yelled. Kinda like, Chhhuuuuuuuccccccckkkkkkk. It was then I realized I’d left Darrell in the car. I went back, got my little buddy, and put him on my face, when he said; “You didn’t brush your teeth after lunch today, did you?” Oops.
Once inside, I see a socially distanced, open seat at the bar, so I sit down and take Darrell off.
“Don’t put me down like you did last time. You know I hate it when you put me down like an upside down turtle. Turtles don’t like it, and I don’t like it. Plus, the bar is full of germs, and I don’t like them getting on me.”
I turn Darrell over and he didn’t like that either. So we made a compromise and I let him hang from the belt loop on the front of my pants. He likes that. I drank a couple of beers, talked a little smack to the other patrons, and told a few lies to the cute new bartender. When I got up to go to the bathroom, I heard a tiny voice from my front belt loop; “Oh no, not this again. Don’t make me look. Please put me on your face where I belong, because you always look up at the ceiling when this is happening. Don’t make me have to…aaagggghhh, what’s been seen, cannot be unseen. Sigh.”
As I’m washing my hands, for a full 20 seconds, I can hear Darrell whimpering. I paid my tab and said goodbye to my bartender. Since I wouldn’t get within 6 feet of anyone on the way out, I left Darrell whimpering on my belt loop and drove across the street for a quick stop at the grocery store before going home.
As we’re going in, Darrell is babbling; “I hope that cute girl is here again today. You know the one I’m talking about. She’s yellow, with the red hearts and those bedazzled sequins beside her ear straps. Oh man, she’s so cute. I wonder what her name is.” I just said, “Shut up, Darrell.”
I went through the checkout line where Darrell’s mask-crush was working, hoping he wouldn’t embarrass me. Turns out, Darrell is shy when he likes someone and he just drooled on my chin instead. Then, on the way to the car, I hear:
“Oh boy, a car ride. I love car rides. Can I hang on the rearview mirror like all the other cool kids? Can I, huh, huh, can I?”
I hang him on the rearview, just to shut him up. He can be really annoying at times. Don’t tell Darrell this, but I’ll kinda be glad when he goes away. Just because I’m HIS best friend, doesn’t mean he’s MY best friend. In all reality, I simply tolerate him to comply with the law.
Later that night, as I was about to get into bed, I knew we were going to have the same argument we have every night, so I just said it first…
“No Darrell, you can’t sleep in the bed with me.”