It is amazingly difficult to come to grips with the fact that we have been in, what many are calling, ‘The New Normal’, for nearly seven months. Aside from all the everyday challenges we face, there is one which is slowly developing inside me. That is, who is who, out there?
At first, masks were pretty simple and people were still quite easy to recognize. Then summer came along, and sunglasses and hats became the norm. Couple these with masks, and I have no idea who anyone is, or who I’m talking to.
People let their hair grow, give themselves a buzz cut, some change their hair colour and others have embraced the once popular, ‘bed head’. The end result for me is, I have no idea who anyone is.
Because my picture appears in 5 or 6 print columns per month, as well as a couple of TV shows, I get several extremely thoughtful comments from people I run into. I haven’t always known them, but often recognized who they were. Now, we are wearing masks, which puts me at an embarrassing loss, as to who I am chatting with.
I was in a store last week and a very kind lady stopped me, and told me how much she enjoyed the last episode of my travel show. I smiled and thanked her, but suddenly she began to talk about a presentation where we met and had a lengthy conversation. Not being able to recognize her, I drew a blank. Suddenly, she stumped me cold when she asked how my dog was faring, even referring to my pooch by her name. Now I felt really embarrassed and spoke as best as I could, without having any idea who that lady was behind the mask?
I would like to make a plea to everyone, going forward, as it appears this pandemic is going to be with us for some time to come, that we all have our name (at least our first name) embroidered or printed on our masks. It is quite common when going to a large event, to wear a name badge, which says, ‘Hello, My Name Is…’ why can’t we simply put that on masks?
As with every problem, there is always an upside. Wearing masks means I don’t have to shave every day. Women don’t have to wear lipstick and you can have as much spinach in your teeth as you want. No one will see it. Hey, I don’t even have to cover my mouth when I yawn.
My next concern will surface when this is all over. Not only will our ears be bent forward, but I am becoming accustomed to seeing people only with masks. Will I recognize anyone after the pandemic is over?
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.