Column, Movie Diary

Masking the problem, appreciating the results — health

By Dom Cioffi

I’m not positive, but I think the first time I saw a person wearing a medical mask in public (but not in a hospital situation) was in an airport. This had to have been years ago – maybe 20 or more if my memory is correct. I’m also confident that any traveler wearing a mask at that time was likely Asian since they were cognoscente of the spread of disease in large group gatherings long before the rest of the world.

I have the faintest memory of thinking this was very strange behavior. I just couldn’t imagine walking around a public setting with a medical mask on, basically announcing to the world that I was frightened of diseases.

As a young, immature male who was desperately concerned with the image he portrayed to the world, this was a choice I could have never made. Something crazy would have had to happen (like an actual global pandemic) to change my mind on that issue!

But then I matured a little, and with maturity came insight.

This was around the time that I got a job that required me to travel on occasion. So, between work and personal vacations, I was hopping aboard airplanes regularly throughout the year. And you know what started happening to me every time I boarded a plane? I’d come home sick.

It was like clockwork: I would go to the airport, get on a flight, fly somewhere, do what I had to do, and then head home. By the time I landed from my return flight, either my throat would be sore, or my nose would be running. And then I’d either get a little sick or very sick depending on the type of virus that infected me.

This got bad enough that I started using hand sanitizer religiously to combat illnesses. In fact, I was a proponent of hand sanitizing long before Covid reared its head. People used to make fun of me when I pulled it out at a restaurant and used it, but there was no way I was putting food in my mouth with the same hand that opened the restaurant’s front door.

Even with that, however, I still wouldn’t consider wearing a mask. It just seemed like a bridge too far.

But one thing did change and that was my attitude toward other travelers who did opt to wear a medical mask while on a flight. I used to sneer at them, but then I started to envy them. I’d look at them and be jealous that I didn’t have the guts to throw on a mask and sit confidently in my seat.

And so, I kept getting sick. No matter what precautions I took, I still came down with illnesses when I traveled. I took all sorts of supplements meant to boost my immune system, hand sanitized my hands until they were raw, and avoided touching anything that looked like it could host viruses.

And then came the Covid pandemic. That’s when everything really changed.

I’m no scientist so I can’t honestly comment of the effectiveness of mask wearing, but I do have my own experience and what I’ve found is that my likelihood of getting sick after a flight has dropped dramatically now that the pandemic has forced me (and others) into wearing a mask.

And you know, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest to walk around an airport or sit on a plane with a mask on. I’m not a huge fan of wearing them in a grocery store or at the movies, but I’m all in when it comes to the recycled air on an airplane.

I just came home from a trip over the past weekend and I’m happily writing this article with not so much as a sniffle or a cough. Going forward, even without restrictions, I’m fairly confident that I’ll be wearing a mask on an airplane for the remainder of my life. 

It just makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is this week’s feature, “A Map of Tiny Perfect Things,” a film made in the vein of “Groundhog Day” where two high school teenagers are caught in an infinite loop of the same day. While one is working desperately to get out, the other is fighting to stay in.

At this point, it seems like a yearly endeavor to try to recreate the mastery of Bill Murray’s classic “Groundhog Day.” But while that film had the uniqueness and humor that made it a classic, this brazen knock-off only muddied the waters of the genre in an attempt to appeal to a younger crowd.

Check this one out if you’re fan of the infinite loop approach, just be prepared for a flattened version of what you’ve come to love.

A listless “C” for “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things,” available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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