Maggie and I did some socializing last week.
For the first time in two years. Which makes us sound anti-social by traditional standards, but these days, it’s, well, the New Normal. Rather a depressing thought, isn’t it? Sorry about that.
And, to be frank, I wasn’t sure I was ready to spend an evening with other people when none of us would be masked. Even though everyone was vaccinated, boostered, and had taken a rapid test. But the payoff would be huge, so I went.
I mean, given the chance to hang out with our godkittehs…
…why in the name of all that’s furry would I decline?
And after all the build-up, and wary anticipation, the strangest thing about the evening was how normal it felt.
I mean, I’ve seen a number of my cow-orkers unmasked, and they looked really weird. There has been a significant quantity of staff turnover, to the point where I hadn’t ever seen some of those people without a mask. Others, I’ve only seen with their masks on for two years.
Discovering they have mouths is disconcerting at best. Disturbing in some cases. I didn’t know one of them had a beard.
But everyone at the gathering last week–even the bipeds–was face-naked. And it felt perfectly fine.
Maybe the difference is that I’ve never seen them masked. But then again, at work I see customers without masks–people I’ve never seen masked before–and they look odd. What’s that pink, flappy thing where the mask should be? Is it supposed to be there?
Now what? Even though I’m no longer required to wear a mask at work, I’ve been continuing to do it, because it makes me feel more comfortable. Should I take a hit to my comfort level and do my part to push a return to the Old Normal? Or look at the rising caseload in countries like Germany and China and do what I can to establish a new New Normal–one where masking is acceptable, even when not required?
I’m open to going mask-free. Not eager, perhaps, but I’m willing to consider it generally or on a case-by-case basis. And there’s one very strong argument for keeping the mask on for another couple of months when I’m outside the house: I don’t know about you, but my hay fever has been much less of a thing than usual the past two Springs. I find I like not sneezing uncontrollably whenever trees throw reproductive material at me.
So, for right now, the mask stays on, with exceptions for special occasions. Like visiting Patti and Forti.
And now I have to do is hope there’s no major backlash coming. We don’t–really, really don’t–need anti-mask mandates. But I have this sneaking suspicion they’ll be coming soon to Florida, Texas, and other states that ought to know better by now.
Don’t take that thing off. In fact, stock up on N95s while you can. You need a mask of that grade to protect YOU from the people who will be ripping all theirs off or using cloth rags and surgical masks that the post-Omicron variants dodge around like they weren’t there.
I schmooze on line with a Kaiser ER doctor, who forwards me her epidemiology newsletter so I don’t have to spend $50 a year to read it. And the news is not good. Germany, China, Denmark, Sweden, UK. We tend to lag Europe by about 3-4 weeks, and the UK, which is pretty close to us in terms of previous infections and vax rates, is getting SLAMMED. Classes with half the kids out sick. Wastewater rates of virus are ticking steadily up across the US. It is not a good lookout.
There is not going to be any old normal. I wish Congress and the administration would get a hint. My ER friend is pulling out her hair: funding gutted for mitigation, NO ONE is upgrading ventilation which is the one BIG thing we could do, new vaccines will probably go on the back burner. Socializing in “bubbles” is probably going to be the only relatively secure way to see friends; I’m only willing to hang out with anyone out of doors, and I still prefer to be masked.
Plus, it really is pretty awesome not sneezing until you throw your back out, innit?
Yeah, to reiterate: the mask stays on at work, unless we’re ordered to not wear them. And maybe even then. Ditto for ballgames and other crowd events–even if they’re outdoors–airplane flights, and grocery shopping. Social events: we’ll see. Case by case and in light of applied precautions.
It was so great to see you, and I’m so glad you got to see the kids!