by grantwoods

 I’ve had my face for more than nineteen years. My face has been in contact with oxygen for nineteen years and two months (nineteen years and eleven months if contact with my mother’s innards is included). Obviously, it’s not the same face—my face has not been in the same form for all nineteen years. In fact, it has changed significantly since it was round and squeezable. Orthodontists tried to move the bottom of it forward with tiny rubber bands, which I stopped wearing, causing it to move back to where it had been. For a time, it was stricken with red bumps of all shapes, sizes and filled with myriad pastes and jams. It started to develop crow’s feet until I decided to cease smiling around March in the current calendar year. Now, it’s red eyes from the blue light and eye bags from the lack of sleep due to the fear that began around March in the current calendar year. It has donned fake eyeglasses, real eyeglasses, sunglasses, styes,  tears, sweat, blood, boogers, melted ice cream, and countless other miscellanies.   Most recently, the face-covering has taken over the bottom half of all public faces. Face coverings are altogether more homogenous than faces, despite the fact that there are now many varieties of masks. Some are noble, like “Black Lives Matter” face coverings, some are stylish, a  cashier in my town wears one that says “Virginity Rocks.” I’d assume inevitably capitalism will have its way and people’s faces will be walking billboards. One won’t be able to walk down the street without learning how to build a better website with Squarespace.  

 In the age of the mask, the facial mannerisms I have accrued over the years are useless.  Those who anxiously chew on their hoodie strings, bite their finger nails or pick their noses are  at a loss. For now, these nervous ticks have gone the way of the dinosaur. Similarly, the intricate  techniques of socializing are muted by face coverings. Decent, but not great, jokes can no longer  be met with an acknowledging smile. The modeling technique of smiling with your eyes now  applies to the greater public. Once an open-mouthed gasp, now a widening of the eyes. Once a  teeth-baring wince, now a rise in cheek bones, maybe.  

 Flirting is an unintended casualty of the pandemic. Seductive lip biting is currently futile.  So is stubble-rubbing to prove one’s virility and testosterone level (Note: there is no link between facial hair and testosterone). All brooding writers miss having the butt of a pen or the arm of eyeglasses in their mouths (because what’s the point of being a brooding writer if romantic desires don’t notice?). The facial subtleties that make interaction so complex and mystical are hidden in the shadow of the mask.  

 Of course, I am a proponent of mask-wearing. Primarily, because I do not want people to die and I’ve been told that mask-wearing is a way one can prevent his fellow humans from dying.  For this reason, we will have to adapt for the time being. Perhaps emojis will take on a greater societal purpose or maybe transparent masks will popularize. For now, I am biding my time,  waiting for the glorious moment I may see a room full of teeth and dimples.

Categories: around town, grant woods, october 6, 2020

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