Boo! A 17th-century German plague doctor costume. How'd you like to see something like that coming at you?
Introductory note: My apologies for goofing with “The Whole Being Dead Thing,” a song from Beetlejuice the Musical. But it works nicely as a title for this blog.
Now, down to business.
When the COVID-19 virus first arrived on the scene, my grandson Aidan, who is wickedly funny, thought maybe we should adopt plague masks (see image above) just to freak everyone out. As it turns out, we don’t need anything extra to freak us out. We’ve got enough as it is, thank you very much.
However, we do all need to have a mask of some sort.
Recently, the Governor of New Jersey, the state in which I happen to live, decreed that we must wear masks when we go any place where there are more than a few people. This requirement isn’t so much for our own safety, but rather for the safety of those around us. Our sneezes and coughs can be deadly, and we most likely don’t even know it. I’m not joking. I’m serious. We need to be aware that we might be virus carriers, even if we do not have symptoms.
Anyway, all of the above left me with a huge problem. I don’t happen to own a mask!
Since they were hard to come by last month, I realized that I would need to make one.
I do own a sewing machine. It once belonged to my mother. Now it hangs out in my dining room. Once upon a time it was considered to be portable. Please understand that back in the 1950s or 1960s portability meant it was enclosed in a case and had a handle. And that means it's possible to lift it but may not actually be lifted without first building yourself up. That thing is heavy as lead
Mom’s machine used to work. I have sewn a few things on it. Then one day it just up and died. It was the motor’s way of saying, “Enough already. That other lady knew how to sew. You can’t even refill the bobbin properly. I’m outta here.”
That was when a horrible reality hit me. In light of my sewing machine’s demise, I needed to take up needle and thread and make my mask by hand, something Maggie Blaine Smith, my 1860s heroine, would do.
But even though I created her, I am not Maggie. I’m actually more like her daughter, Frankie, whose sewing skills (along with all her other domestic talents) are absolutely hair-raising.
“Alas,” I sighed, “from whence will my help come?”
Then I remembered that I was quoting Psalm 121. So I did as it said.
I looked to the hills.
And the hills said, “Whaddaya looking at us for? Do we look like we can sew?”
So I looked to my mom’s old sewing cabinet, instead.
Mom has been gone for fifteen years now. But somehow, I heard her whisper, “Look in the sewing cabinet, dear. You’ll find what you need.”
And lo and behold, there they were: two ancient packages containing one pocket each. You see, back in the day, when men put a hole in their trouser pockets from carrying car keys and wallets, women would take the old pocket out and put a new one in. These days, men just carry on and pray for the best.
But now my help had come in the form of Smith’s Pocket’s. Check out that price, folks. You just can’t find a good pocket anymore for 49 cents.
I opened one package and held the pocket up to my face. It fit. Okay. Truthfully, it would fit if it had a a bit of cutting. And a bit of more cutting. And sewing by hand. And sewing some more because it still wasn’t right. And cutting up an old t-shirt to make ties. And having to rip out and reposition the ties after I had sewn them on once already.
But eventually I had something workable.
The only problem? I looked as if I was out to rob a bank.
Okay. So, not happy with that.
It fogged up my glasses. I knew I could not shop for groceries with foggy lenses nor could I shop without glasses. Maybe what I need to do is install a nose piece made from an unbent paper clip with the ends turned in so I won’t stab myself in the eye. I have yet to do this.
Fortunately, my sister has a friend who loves to sew, and he sent a bunch of fabric masks to her. Diane was kind enough to mail one to me. This time the problem was not aesthetics or design. Those things are perfect. It has kissy lips all over it, too, which is cheeky and fun. But those ribbon ties! They refused to stay tied. Fortunately, Diane also sent Velcro as an alternative way of securing the ties. So I put on the Velcro and the mask worked for shopping.
Now I have two functioning masks. One is really cool and the other looks like Jesse James wore it. I plan to get the third one tweaked and usable, too.
I hope your own “The Whole Wearing a Mask Thing” life is working well for you. Meanwhile, stay safe, keep others safe from anything you might be carrying, and remember to be kind.
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder