Clergy Clatter

During our pandemic, one of my precautions has been to go to the grocery store only once a week, and try to do that on what I hope will be “off hours.” I wear my mask, wipe off the cart, and play Dodge Ball as I move down the aisles, trying to avoid getting near anyone. In my mind’s eye, I have chuckled at the possibility of my climbing the shelves if someone without a mask approaches me.

Last week, as I searched for Moon Pies (late night snack), I realized that it may be a long time before I will want to go to the grocery without a mask. Even when a vaccine is available, I have become comfortable with a mask in that setting, and it may be hard to break that pattern. And I thought back to the first time I wore a mask into that same grocery. I felt like an idiot. I was sure everyone was looking at me and wondering why I was wearing that thing. It was that same feeling that I get in the hospital when they tell me to walk up and down the hall in a hospital gown – “something is not quite right here.”

Well, this brought back some amusing memories of being a teenager in the ‘50s. There were rigid dress and behavior codes back then, that make masks seem incidental. This was the era of Elvis and James Dean, and all of that. They set the “codes” for us. If James Dean did it, we had to do it – period. If Dr. Fauci had these icons today, our pandemic would be history.

We had to have our shirt sleeves rolled up two turns, just right. Our shoes had to be the right brand with the right amount of dirt on them. We beat a new pair of shoes with a hammer to get them to look worn, just right. Our pant legs were “pegged” with the cuffs so small we could barely get into them. I wore a flat top haircut with gobs of “goose grease” to make it stand up, just right. It was only proper to have a cigarette nestled behind the top of one ear so we could quickly get to it when we had a chance to sneak a couple of puffs in the restroom. And the girls had their own standards, with their sack dresses, and their beehive hair dos, and their “trotters”, and a “steady” to carry their books. These were times of conformity, and everything had to be just right, no matter how silly. 

And I was self-conscious about wearing a mask in a grocery store during a pandemic? Come on! God created us as such ridiculous creatures. Put on your mask. Help save a life – perhaps your own. Stay healthy. And let’s put an end to this thing and move on.

Richard +

November 1, 2020


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