Opinion: Unmasking intent


With sunny days of summer, folks emerge from their dwellings into the light of day, beholding a world slowly adjusting to the persistence of this current plague. And as temperatures soar into the 90s, or above, many seek respite in nearby lakes or pools to beat the heat.

Without a pond of their own, many are driven to share space in more public settings. Wisely, establishments have undertaken physical distancing and other precautions to keep bathers safe. On one such sundeck, the skinny teen guiding guests to an appropriate spot wore plastic gloves, long, dark pants and shirt, a cap and an American flag neck scarf correctly covering his nose and mouth. It was hot! Exchanges concerning replenishment of towels and fresh water led to a commendation on his mask and commitment to wearing it.

Embarrassed and dropping his gaze, he responded, “Thank you,” and that he’d been considering exchanging it. Too many of the educated and wealthy clientele were offended and believed that the flag was meant to endorse a political candidate, race, class or other bit of propaganda. Asked if it did, he emphatically responded, “No.” It is intended to remind him of his Dad now away serving “another” tour in Afghanistan, but the complaints led to fear for his much-needed job.    

The receptionist greeted visitors behind a tall plexiglass screen. Covering most of her bespectacled face was a fanciful scene of cavorting flamingos. Complimented upon her choice, she spoke of a growing collection of such masks, enough now for each day of the week, and soon, perhaps each day of the month. If we imagine attire to be political statement affronting our personal space, do we have standing to confront it? If we’ve always believed the shrimp-eating pink birds to be troublesome, does her mask open the door for our rebuke?