Well, it had to happen I guess. And it finally did. I kind of knew it was just a matter of time because I have a difficult time being quiet. But it has always been that way. I have a tendency to be outgoing and like to engage people, anyone, in conversation. My wife used to say I would talk to a rock. And, I’ll admit, there have been a few times when my silence would have been the best alternative. But it taught me some things. Like never asking a woman you don’t know (hell, any woman) if they are pregnant. Or, as happened to me once in my youth, admiring a young lady in rather graphic terms only to find out I was talking to her brother.
So it was most of my years until life threw me a curve. Suddenly, we were all wearing masks. One would think, in my case anyway, that would be a good thing, but one would be wrong. I didn’t stop talking. I just tried harder. But now I had this extra thing attempting to stifle me, and further, inhibiting my ability to read facial expressions which would help me know when to bail out and if a parachute was going to really help. Mumbling is not the answer. It just creates other problems, like what you really said versus what they think you said. Thin ice here. Very thin.
Many mornings when I walk the dogs, I run into a lady from the neighborhood that enjoys early morning walks also. I don’t know her name, but we normally exchange pleasantries, and have even walked a short way together a few times. Being the only ones out there, we don’t wear masks. I hadn’t seen her lately, but with the chillier weather, I suspected she may be walking later in the day. However, this morning, while grocery shopping, I saw her. At least, I thought I saw her. The height and hair was about right, and the glasses looked a lot like hers. We passed in a couple of aisles and exchanged a quick glance or two without speaking. I finally decided that this was her, so the next time we met, I ventured what I hoped was a cheery “Good Morning”. She responded with a flat sounding Good Morning and gave me a look that said “just because you are wearing a mask doesn’t mean I couldn’t describe you to the police. Time to make a decision I thought. She is a little younger then me, so I was sure she could outrun me, and dismissed that alternative. So I quickly gathered all my faculties and decided to totally ignore her, While studiosly studying a tube of anchovy paste until she moved on. I could just see it on the evening news. “Today, In Gray, an elderly man attacked a female shopper at Hannaford’s with a tube of anchovy paste, etc, etc. How humiliating. I would be drummed out of the mug club at the pub.
You know, we keep saying that when this whole thing is over, we hope we can return to normal. But the real trick will be to quantify normal. Imagine if you would, dating in 2025. A young couple is in the back seat of his car. He has his arm around her and, as any young man would do, is imploring her to take the next step. Leaning over, with his lips to her ear he says. Oh, come on, what would it hurt? She in turn says no, I’m not going to do that. He squeezes her shoulder and says “Just once, no one will know”. She again says “I told you NO, and I mean it”. He, not to be dissuaded, decides to make one last plea. Turning her face towards his he says. ” Please. Just a peek. I won’t tell anyone. Come on. Just once. Show me your nose. And she says “not until we’re married”.