- Say What?
By Didi Gorman
Conducting dialogs with a facemask on has been quite awkward recently. The person says one thing, and you hear another.
Take my cousin Sheila, for example, urging me through her mask to go see a certain Dr. Mary. “You really have to see this excellent Dr. Mary!” she said. “You’ll absolutely love it.”
Needless to say, I don’t know anyone with that name. After some clarifications, though, it turned out the word she had actually said was ‘documentary’.
Funny, but not a big deal, you might say. True, I’ll give you that.
But then, there was this photographer friend of mine, who invited me on a walk, during which, she kept snapping pictures of random strangers.
“I’m going to take a picture of this guy!” she said through her mask, pointing her camera this way and that while clicking the button. A few minutes later she did it again. “Look at this guy!” she said, snapping another picture.
This can’t be right, I thought to myself. Isn’t she aware of privacy? Of consent? And so I launched into a soliloquy about privacy and consent.
Given that I was sermonizing her through my mask though, I was not entirely sure she had understood me. (And to be totally frank, I was not entirely sure I had understood myself either…)
She then pointed up to the object of her interest. She was taking pictures of THE SKY.
The most unsettling occurrence though, transpired during a get-together with a group of muzzled friends, where at some point, the conversation had veered towards the art of cooking humid rice.
Now, I don’t want you to get the impression that I don’t care for rice or anything. On the contrary, I consider myself a rice lover. Brown rice, basmati rice, long grain – bring it all! But humid rice? Come on. That just sounds gross.
“Why in the world are we even talking about such an inconsequential topic as humid rice?” I said. “Who even cares about humid rice?”
My friends’ eyebrows arched.
These folk sure do take their rice seriously, I thought to myself.
Still, I have a lot of experience in rice cooking, and I know for a fact that humidity is the enemy number one of any grain. Don’t these people know anything about mold? Humid rice is nothing short of a health hazard! I’d better warn them against this humid rice of theirs, before they cook a hideous concoction and send us all straight to the ICU, with severe indigestion!
“Humid rice is a terrible thing,” I opined loudly. “It should be banned altogether! It should never exist! The world would be a much better place without it! In fact, in my opinion, nowhere on the face of the planet should any individual ever have any form of humid rice!” I banged my fist on the table, just to make a point.
My friends exchanged appalled looks amongst them. I had stunned them into silence. No one said a word.
Eventually, someone cleared his throat. “So you prefer the SISTER in North Korea?” he asked.
“I don’t have any sister in North Korea!” I retorted, only to realize, after a moment’s thought, that I had probably misheard. He had most likely said ‘system’.
But what does North Korea got to do with anything?
Then it dawned on me. Oh no. The discussion was not really about humid rice.
HUMAN RIGHTS. They were talking about human rights. Me and my militant speech. What had I just advocated for?
So, yeah, I’ve lost quite a few friends recently. And I dread to think how my social life might look like if this mask-wearing situation drags on.