“You wanna see my new mask?” I ask my friend Lena. Lena is my woke German friend, like me a fully paid-up member of the Corona-Angsthasi-Gang. This is why, while the rest of Germany meets up for mega-parties, we’re still doing Zoom dates with bottles of red wine after the kids go to bed. I show her my new slinky mask, with little skulls and crossbones all over.
“Can you breathe under that?” She asks.
“I’m really good at breathing under a mask, actually,” I say. “You just need to breathe slowly and calmly, like you know there’s enough air, like you’re sure there will always be enough air. Look at me with my mask on. Super sexy, huh? I love putting masks on.”
“You do?” Lena asks.
“I think I look super-sexy with a mask on,” I say.
“I mean, look at me! I think it’s because I have such wonderful, gorgeous, exotic eyes. And I love this bit of my nose. Don’t you like this bit of my nose? I think this bit of my nose is kind of perfect.”
“Hmmmmmn, yeah,” Lena says. “I see what you mean, actually.”
“Maybe it’s low self-esteem. Do you think it’s low self-esteem? Maybe I have really low self-esteem and can only feel sexy with half my face covered up. Because of my hamster cheeks. I have kid of hamster-like cheeks. And a horrible nose. And a double chin. It’s low self-esteem huh? I have low self-esteem. I wish I didn’t!”
“It’s not low self-esteem,” Lena says knowingly. “You just have a mask fetish, that’s all.”
I stare at Lena, aghast, flabbergasted, all those kinds of words.
“I. Do. NOT. Have. A Mask. Fetish!” I say, sternly. “I just find putting a mask on and taking it off again a kind of sexy, sensual, erotic, wonderful experience, that’s all.”
“I think I would have noticed it before now if I had a mask fetish! I wouldn’t just discover it, kind of accidentally, by wearing boring Mund-Nasen-Schutz things in the middle of a deadly pandemic! I think I’d have, like, gimp masks at home and stuff.”
“Okay, Jacinta,” Lena says as I take a gulp of red wine like it’s Ribena. It’s very cheap red wine, and tastes a bit like Ribena, the kind of red wine that looks like it’s water mixed with food colouring. It’s easy to gulp down.
I spend the next few days worrying about whether I have a mask fetish or not. I hate wearing a mask, because you can’t breathe properly. But I also love it, because I am a member of the Corona-Angst-Hasi-Gang and also because I think I look really, really good. Is it low self-esteem? Is it a mask fetish? I just think, whenever I have eye contact with a boy in a mask, that he is imagining how sexy I am underneath my mask. I also think I can tell how sexy a boy is by how sexy he looks in a mask. And God, about 90 percent of boys look sexy in a mask. Like almost every boy under 30 looks good in a mask, and a lot of them over 30. I walk around Kaufland in mask heaven.
You know who doesn’t look good in masks? Those old white men who poke their noses over the top. God, they look awful. It’s such an unsexy look. Their little flabby pink noses hanging over their masks like flaccid willies. It’s the unsexiest look imaginable. It’s actually worse than when men stand there by your bed with just a T-shirt on and no pant or trousers underneath. It’s literally horrific, and when I say horrific, I mean gruesomely, unbearably, horrifically unsexy.
Apparently, masks have become a kind of cultural war symbol. Many people who like masks also like black people, Greta Thunberg, rainbows, little babies, unicorns and tofu steak served with gluten-free pasta. People who hate masks like freedom and literally nothing else, although their idea of freedom doesn’t include the right of asthmatics to not die.
If I had to choose which side of the culture war I wanted to fight on, I’d go with the unicorns. Put on a copious amount of eyeliner – an Amy Winehouse level of eyeliner – and hot-foot it to Kaufland. Do some serious smeyesing at all the boys wearing their masks properly. Maybe I do have a bit of a fetish. Germany’s opening up and relaxing hygiene measures, but to be honest, I can’t imagine going to Kaufland bare-faced ever again. It would just be boring!