Most peculiar, Mama

It's early summer, 2020. The phone rings. My grocery delivery is here, so I put on pants, roll my granny-cart to the porch, then spot a woman who spots me, and I push the cart toward her.

Keeping a safe "social distance" — there's a pandemic, you may have heard — I stand on the grass as she starts filling the cart with my groceries, from the back of her car.

"Have you been to any of the protests?" she asks me, and that's odd. It's the first thing either of us have said after "Hi," and usually if there's any talk when the deliveries come, it's about the weather.

"Yeah," I say. "I went to a march on the second day, but that's it." What I don't say, because she's already talking again, is that there'd been so many police watching the BLM march I'd attended, it felt unsafe, and I'd come home early.

"Last night was really beautiful," she was saying. "There were hundreds of people holding glowsticks in the dark. No police at all that I could see, which is a welcome improvement. We had eight minutes and forty-six seconds of absolute silence." She continues gently unloading my cat food and milk and frozen fish sticks.

"The cops are leaving the protests alone now?"

"Oh, they're around. People said that some squad cars were parked a few blocks away, just in case the police wanted to make trouble."

My cart is full, the back of her hatchback is empty, so she says thanks, and I say thanks. But also, "Hey, I have to ask, do you talk about the protests at every delivery you make?"

"God no, I never say much. It's not smart to talk politics, because you say the wrong thing to the wrong people and they'll take back their tips."

"Well, how did you know I wouldn't do that? Get all huffy and 'White Lives Matter' and all that crap." I nod at a 'Trump 2020' sign in a window across the street.

She points at my face, and raises her eyebrows, which is all that's visible of her face. I still don’t understand, so she explains. "You're wearing a mask." Then she waves, climbs into her car, drives away.

I wheel my groceries into the house, connecting the dots on the way. That woman didn't know me from anyone else, but she knew I'm not a Republican … because a mask was on my face.

That's nuts, but her assumption makes sense. Most Republicans have become skeptical of science, believe the coronavirus is a lie or a flu, so most Republicans don't wear masks. They love breathing at you, coughing in your direction.

Wearing a mask in a pandemic signaled to a stranger that I'm not off my rocker.

"Nobody told me there'd be days like these. Strange days indeed ..."
        —John Lennon

Republished: 3/10/2024  


  1. That's exactly the assumption I made during the pandemic. And when I see peeps wearing masks now (even though I no longer do myself) I just think, "Good for them, they're protecting US."

    1. This was the moment I made the connection. It's really rejiggered my whole outlook. I used to think Republicans were mean and all about money and strongly opposed to freedom, and they're all that, of course, but these last several years have convinced me they're also just *staggeringly* stupid.


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