Rainy Side View: Pondering a maskless future

Congratulations to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for again issuing mixed messages on mask-wearing.

Our governor has cautiously agreed to some of it, such as not needing to wear masks outdoors as long as we can stay 6 feet apart, but state mandates still require masks indoors.


If herd immunity is based on 70% of the population vaccinated against COVID-19, Hawaii, as of this writing, is 50% fully vaccinated. But looming large is summer, with trans-Pacific comings and goings, so let’s hope no new COVID variants come waltzing in.

However, since there’s finally a foreseeable maskless future, I’ve been trying to make plans.

First of all, what shall we do with these masks? Face coverings in pre-pandemic America were sanctioned only on Halloween and Mardi Gras. Wearing them at any other time could you get arrested. But even though we’re sick of masks, let’s not carelessly dump them. Disposable ones are already littering beaches and entrapping helpless sea creatures, so we should think before tossing.

Cloth masks are another story. Many of us have a colorful array, so here are some ideas for those.

Creative quilters can piece them together in a blanket and call it the COVID Cover.

Artists could be invited to display mask art at Wailoa Center.

Schools might have contests for the best post-pandemic use of a mask.

Me? I’m telling the grandkids to hang onto them because in 50 years, they’ll be collectible, as World War II gas masks are. Mo‘opuna can sell them on eBay for way more than their grandmother spent on fabric and elastic.

So hold on to that mask!

Something else to think about, post-mask, is the face. Now that our delightful visage will soon be fully exposed, we’ll have to make a few adjustments. For me, I’ll be ditching the obake look by wearing lipstick again. I avoided it the entire year so as not to smear my precious mask with Tropical Coral, a favorite lip color since 1963.

It also means I’ll have to find teeth-whitener since my consumption of red wine increased over the year. Sorry I didn’t switch to a less-staining white Chablis, but it’s too late for that. Tropical Coral against pearly browns is scary, so I’ll just smile without showing teeth. Come to think of it, over the Year of COVID (YOC), I smiled with my eyes, so why stop now?

Perhaps I should also pay attention to hair, but a dear friend who had the daunting task of snipping and styling my stiff mop retired during YOC and richly deserves that cruise she was planning before the pandemic.

And since I hardly even used a comb over the past year, her sailing off into the sunset is a thumbs up to let my unruly rug go ragged. Mahalo, Sharon!

What else? Oh, yes, earrings. I have a vast collection, but over YOC I left my ear puka empty because glamorous danglers and studs only got entangled in the mask strap. Those pinholes are probably sealed shut by now and, anyway, can dazzling ear decor distract from bad teeth and hair?

I doubt it.

As I review my projected post-mask behavior, it doesn’t look like I’ll be returning to pre-pandemic ways any time soon. I guess I’ll continue what I’ve been doing, even though the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter. Yes, I look forward to getting back to my quilt group, lunch with friends, dinner with classmates, but I won’t relax too much, because it ain’t over till it’s over.


And it ain’t over. Yet.

Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at Her column appears every other Monday.

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