An Annotated Open Letter to Never-Maskers from a Sometimes-Masker

Annotations Provided by the Writer’s Zoomer Daughter

Dear Never Masker,

            Consider this letter a well-meaning appeal to our common humanity, written with all the love and understanding of a concerned citizen who implores you to please, maybe, possibly consider wearing a mask when you leave your home.

Try instead: “Wear the goddamn mask, Steven.”

           I write this knowing that we are three months into our collective recognition that COVID-19 is indeed a thing, and believe me, there have been days where I have shaken my fists to the sky and pleaded, “Dear God! Let our suffering be done!” Social distancing has been hard on everyone. I have longed for the days of yore, when one could trap one’s acquaintance in a sweaty, breathy hug, or feel the cool, limp grip of a client’s hand in one’s own. And yet, despite our furious protestations and oft-voiced exhaustion, this pandemic refuses to simply go away.

Don’t hug people without consent. Abolish handshaking.

            But listen, friend. Let’s get real. Though cloth masks may fog our glasses and irritate our nose, though our voices may reach others only as unintelligible noise, the cost of not wearing a mask is far too high. Yes, there are the deaths and the hospitalizations, yes there are people surviving double pneumonia only to grapple with million-dollar bills, but this you already know. What you don’t know, friend, is that the fabric of our very lives is at stake here. America is crumbling, and not from the utter hate, violence, and ineptitude of our current administration, nor from the sheer volume of horrific police killings of unarmed black men, women, and children that can no longer be ignored.

Add “It is impossible to believe that Black Lives Matter when you refuse to wear a mask, because black lives suffer most under our unjust healthcare system.”

           No, our future depends on one question and one question only. Will we ever get to experience Top Gun: Maverick in the fifty-foot, surround-sound glory we hot-blooded Americans deserve? We have waited thirty-four years and cannot wait one moment more.

Mom. Just NO. Tom Cruise is not it. The military-industrial complex is NOT IT. Do not stan.

            Still unconvinced? Consider the perks of wearing a mask. If you, like me, suffer from an unfortunate series of moles that spell out MILF along your upper lip, imagine the cover a mask provides. Consider the various fashion statements you might make: a pink triangle to show women how secure you are in your masculinity; cute little cats smiling across your mouth so the ladies know how lovingly you’ll kiss their kitties; a curled moustache pattern to show off your dandy, dapper self.

None of those mean what you think they mean, but I approve.

            Consider that, if your eyes are your best feature, a mask will drastically improve your overall attractiveness.

            Consider the many ways you may wear your mask: under the nose; around your neck; hanging off one ear; pushed to the top of your head like a pleated, ineffective sweatband.

Consider that saving someone’s life should be incentive enough.

Consider how many Americans’ last words have been “I can’t breathe.”

 Consider how a piece of cloth became a political issue.

Consider how easy it is to dismiss human life as collateral.

Consider the words, “I can’t breathe, Officer. You’re gonna kill me. They’re gonna kill me. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”

            Thank you generously for your attention to this letter. These are dire times, and we must stick together if we are to make it through. Peace and love. I hope we may meet in the street one day, with only our eyes to communicate the human bond we share.

Good luck, motherfucker. We came for your hashtags. We came for your rallies and your statues. Wear the mask or your face may be next, because these fists are HUNGRY.


            Concerned Sometimes-Masker


Your Worst Nightmare

Black Lives Matter

Say their names:

George Floyd – Tony McDade – Ahmaud Arbery – Breonna Taylor – Elijah McClain – Atatiana Jefferson – Stephon Clark – Botham Jean – Philando Castile – Alton Sterling – Michelle Cusseaux – Sandra Bland – Janisha Fonville – Freddie Gray – Akai Gurley – Eric Garner – Gabriella Nevarez – Tamir Rice – Michael Brown – Tanisha Anderson – Aiyana Jones – Trayvon Martin

And all the others whose names we have still to learn.

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