Saturday, May 16, 2020

Still Life with Robin: The Mask of Goldilocks

DC Flag Mask

by Peggy Robin

I own three reusable face masks. One is too small. It feels tight and uncomfortable. One is too big. It’s baggy around the sides of my face and that’s not so safe or effective. The third one is the one I made myself, before I bought the two professionally-made masks. I made it from an old bandana, folded over four times, with a pocket that holds a coffee filter over my nose and mouth. It has pony-tail loops that go over each ear.  Everything about this mask is wrong. It’s too bulky, which makes it too hot. The hair-tie ear-loops are not adjustable. The cloth goes up too high on my nose and under my glasses, causing my glasses to fog up.

I also have a handful of paper masks that came in a multi-mask packet, purchased many years ago, while we were doing a basement renovation and wanted to be able to chat with the construction crew without breathing in a lot of plaster dust. The paper masks are flimsy, not washable for re-use -- and also too big for my face.

So far I have not found a mask that meets the fabled Goldilocks test…..the one that is “juusst right!”

I thought of making my own custom-fitted mask. It should not be beyond my sewing skills. Hey, I grew up in the '60s when they made all eighth girls take home ec*, and we spent an entire semester sewing an A-line skirt with a zipper in the back. I took the class pass-fail….and while my skirt was not exactly haute-couture workmanship, it was not, I should add, an utter failure. I took a look at some Youtube videos that showed how to make a custom-fitted mask. It looked quite doable. So I got found some old cotton pillowcases that I was willing to sacrifice for a good cause, and I downloaded a pattern, cut it out, held the pieces against my face to check the sizing, and then cut the fabric pieces, and pinned them pinned together.

That’s as far as I’ve gone. The pinned-together prototype is sitting, on a table, waiting for me to sew up the seams. You do that part inside-out and then do the last seam after you’ve turned it right-side-out. In the meantime, the two professionally-sewn masks I ordered arrived in the mail. I thought I no longer needed to make my own. I’ve worn each of the two masks multiple times, enough to know I’m dissatisfied with the way each one feels, especially after the first fifteen minutes. I’m also pretty sure I’m going to feel dissatisfied with my own creation, if I ever finish it. I can’t predict what I won’t like about it. I just don’t see a high probability that it will feel any better than the two that I’ve already got.

In truth, the likelihood is that having multiple layers of fabric over my nose and mouth for an extended period of time is never going to feel good. There is no Goldilocks mask for me. I’m not BatGirl. Or the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Still, I think I’m going to be needing a mask for some time to come, so it looks like my best option is to try again to order something that fits well enough. My strategy next time around is to worry less about getting the size just right and try to get something that will be more fun to wear. I’m thinking about getting a DC flag mask. 

Then there's that Goldilocks problem again. There's always just one thing about each mask that makes it not quite what I'm after. This one, for example:  seems like it would leave a lot of gaps….and anyway, it’s out of stock.

Here's one that's available: -- but I don’t like the impressionistic streaks on the red bars. That’s just not what the DC flag looks like. So no.

Then there’s this one:  .but I think it looks like something that one of the train robbers from The-Hole-in-Wall-Gang might wear. Not really my style.

Even worse is this one: .  Kinda reminds me a little of the hockey mask worn by that serial killer in a bunch of slasher movies. Not rockin’ that look, for sure.

So I keep spending time websurfing on Etsy and Amazon, seeking out the one that will be “juussst right.” And who knows…maybe by the time I find it, it will no longer be needed. One can always dream……

* The boys, in case you were wondering, took “shop,” where, for the whole of one semester, they made an Adirondack chair, and for the whole of the other semester, I believe were meant to be learning something about car engines. Not more than a year or so later, the curriculum changed, and students were permitted to sign up for either home ec or shop, irrespective of gender. And a few years after that, both classes were turned into electives.

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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