(06/22/2020)
By Jack Cawthon

bbqrun@hotmail.com

I have been thinking—you may read on at your own peril—about the Lone Ranger. He wore a mask, although it only covered his eyes. His mask was to prevent identification, but anyone who had ever seen him in real life was apt to say that’s old what’s his name, I thought he had died long ago in an ambush of Texas Rangers.

Then I wondered if he were riding the plains today with his faithful Indian companion Tonto and the pandemic had spread would he wear an additional face mask. (As an aside, you can see how being confined day after day causes one to think unusual thoughts. Or if you have read this stuff before, maybe it isn’t unusual but a little bizarre.}

If he rode into town to help the down- trodden he wouldn’t be recognized so much as scare everyone, including his horse Silver and Tonto.

Well, my thoughts traveled from there to my neighborhood Kroger. I needed to go shopping and should I wear a mask? Would I be considered a wimp, or worse, as I was in high school?

I look at our President, a representative of American manhood, who doesn’t wear a mask and stands there daring the virus to strike him. These are indeed confusing times! Well, I had already been declared a wimp long ago, so there wasn’t much further to drop. So, I decided on a mask. While the President might frown, I think the Lone Ranger would be proud and one has to select his hero the best he can.

So off to Kroger I go. I don the mask and I find I can’s breathe well. In the store my glasses fog up. I notice after a while that many people are not wearing masks and most who do wear them are women. Many men are bare-faced and some look at me, I feel, with disdain. Here I am again, wimp all over.

Well, I’ve gone through all of this before and with continuing PTSD and other mental afflictions I will keep the mask on. It is a better disguise that that worn by the Lone Ranger. I notice the workers are wearing masks and they need protected. With my glasses fogged and my breathing difficult I finally make my way to the checkout but feeling much as the woman must have felt who cut out the nose and mouth of her mast so that she might breathe better.

For once the woman at the register doesn’t call me “honey” or “sweetheart” and I realize she can’t see my face and I may not appear old enough. If I am called affectionate names while wearing the mask it may represent true feelings!

After all this struggle I need to talk to someone who might be sensitive to my experience. So, I called Burvil in Big Puf. The line was a little scratchy but Burvil told me it had been patched together by Arlo Pratlow using baling wire, a trick he had learned on the old crank phone system.

After explaining my experiences to Burvil he merely laughed and called me a “wimp.” He explained that Arley Cleeter, the progressive outsider, had appeared one day with a “funny thing covering his face.” He went to the Nickel and Dime Savings Bank to cash a check and it was no time until Sheriff Eli Pratlow, with siren blaring, arrived to arrest him as a possible bank robber.

He told me that Arley did another stupid trick. He was carrying a big stick around with it pointing to everyone he met to keep the distance from him. I told Burvil that was the six feet that was needed to keep from catching the virus.

He said no, that Arley called it a “meetric” measure and that he didn’t go by the foot but by the “meter.” He wondered where he might get once of them there meters and if he could measure fish with it.

Well, I figured that I wouldn’t be welcome in Big Puf in disguise, so I was ready to hang up when Burvil told me about Homer Bob catching a disease. This caught my attention, as surely the virus may have hit my home away from home.

I nervously asked Burvil if Home Bob had gone to the doctor and what was his diagnosis. He told me that old Doc Quackerly said Homer Bob had caught a vi—vi something. I suddenly began to tremble as I had been in Big Puf, let’s see, and I began to count the days.

Burvil told me he had written down what Doc had called the affliction. As he went to hunt for the note, I broke out in a sweat.

After a lengthy time, he returned and began to spell out the disease. VIRLE he spelled. He said Doc had told Homer Bob that he had not maintained proper social distance from some woman over on Blue Tick Crick and that he had caught…..and the phone went dead. I guess the baling wire had given way.

Well, it had been a tiring day. It was time that I masked my emotions and waited for the President to call someone like me a “wimp,” or worse, a member of Antiva.


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