I live in a pleasant, older neighborhood. Some houses have been here almost a hundred year. Some are two-story, some are single-story Craftsman. Yards are mowed, gardens tended. We have an active neighborhood association and lots of traditions. Our community attracts people who are looking for the inner-city experience, where you know your neighbors and feel part of things going on.
One of our traditions is our annual Fourth of July Parade. Everyone turns out—families dress their kids up, drape bikes and trikes with red- white- and-blue streamers. Parents walk along next to their kids, and non-marching residents line the streets of the route to cheer. The parade ends at our local elementary school, the capstone that holds our neighborhood together, where there are various activities for children—face painting, bounce houses, and lots of treats for everyone!
It’s going to be all different this year. The social co-chairs planned a variation of the usual route, with proper social distancing, and issued an edict that masks would be required. The city approved the amended plan. But then the spike hit our county, along with most of Texas, and the ladies went back to the planning board.
The results? We’ll have a parade of motorized vehicles only—sort of like those drive-by birthday parties everyone is having these days. No motorized scooters, no bikes, none of the wagons with baby brother getting a free ride. Nope, not even the dogs we’re used to. And the generous neighbors who always had a post-parade Bloody Mary and Budweiser stand? Postponed.
The parade will wind through internal streets of the neighborhood, so many folks can cheer from their own front yards. And the usual celebration at the end? With a totally different route, the parade will end in a cul-de-sac where residents can take their turn, at a distance of course, at an ice-cream truck. Yes, masks required.
The reason I’m telling you all this is that I am so impressed by the resilience our neighborhood shows. Everyone recognizes that things are not what we want them to be. But instead of throwing our hands up in despair and retreating into our homes, we have a new plan. We will still have fun and celebrated our nation’s birth, but we will be looking out for our neighbors … and ourselves.
When I see people who make such a scene when confronted with a mask requirement—the woman who threw all the groceries out of her cart at a check-out, flinging food hither and yon; the man who had a huge poster saying, “I will not sacrifice my freedom for your health.”—I am appalled. I would like to say I’d invite these self-centered people to my neighborhood to see how people care about each other, but no, I don’t want them and their germs—or their attitude—here.
A friend of mine was in a grocery store with one-way aisles (best idea grocers have come up with yet), when she saw a mask-less woman coming toward her. Not being a shrinking violet, she asked, “Where is your mask?” The woman said something, and my friend said, “My mask protects you. Your mask would protect me.” The woman looked at her and said, “Oh, honey, God will protect you.” Maybe that’s why all those choir members in Dallas sang for Pence without masks. And did you hear that in Oklahoma, post the trump rally, they are getting 100% positive tests. God gave us masks and social distancing; we can’t expect magic from a deity.
Since I don’t go out of my cottage very often—I’ve been off the property three times since last March—I rarely wear a mask. So I’m the first to admit they’re a pain—hot, itchy, uncomfortable. With my hearing problems, I find it difficult to understand a person wearing a mask—I’ve noticed this with a couple of repairmen who have come to the house. But it is what it is, and it’s better than getting COVID-19.
Our numbers are up again today in Tarrant County—605 new cases, and I forgot how many deaths. I notice with satisfaction that more and more people across the nation who at first resisted are now wearing masks. I mean, really, if Mitch McConnell says it’s absolutely essential that everyone wear one, that’s a huge step. Now if only the squatting president would get on board. And then we have to work on the hordes who want to spend the day at the beach or tubing on the Guadalupe or marching in a protest, though a lot of the latter are properly masked.
Do you wear your mask every time you leave your home? For sure?