Punctuation is important. Note the title of this blog post. The pandemic is not over, but the character that I created and inhabited beginning in spring of 2020 has been retired.
As the pandemic hit the East Coast, my barber shop closed, leaving me few prospects to get my hair cut for the foreseeable future. At the same time, people began to improvise masks. I vowed not to cut my hair again until an efficacious vaccine was running through Dr. Fauci’s and my veins. I was able to amuse myself in many ways, among them my “art project”: creating a monthly “Hair and Mask Update” on social media.
In late April of 2021, I was fully vaccinated. I celebrated by coloring my hair blonde. By next month, my loved ones had been vaccinated, so I returned to my barber to shear off my locks, concluding the chapter of my life referred to as “Pandemic Ed.”
For your consideration, here is a brief history of the “Hair and Mask Update.”
Mask: At first, medical guidance pointed to protecting yourself by washing hands and disinfecting surfaces. Part of the reason for not initially recommending masks was the fear that people would hoard, depriving doctors, nurses, and medical staff – as well as first-responders – of desperately needed masks. So, I improvised with a bandana.
Hair: My barber did such a good job a month or so earlier, that I still didn’t need a haircut.
Mask: Colorful, ill-fitting. It had to do. I started to blog seriously, setting a goal of getting verified on Twitter (fail). Also, George Floyd is murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis.
Hair: Time for a haircut, amirite?
Mask: The local grocery store announced on its Instagram that they had paper masks in stock. I rushed to purchase a package of 20. They were made in China. The irony was not lost on me. My wife suggested that I write fiction, so I began to write pandemic-related short stories.
Hair: Seriously, dude, are you French?
Mask: Large companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals started churning out mass quantities of masks, some of which had an eye towards style. The saga of the fictional Tilley-Blandin family was launched.
Hair: Not ready yet for product, but I was getting used to the sensation of fingers running through my hair.
Mask: Mask manufacturers were getting more pointed in their designs, noting the resistance of many to following medical, scientific, and legal mandates. I woke up from a pandemic nightmare. Also, you could still get within a stone’s throw of the White House!
Hair: Fully into the “who cares” phase. Luckily, I had discovered head coverings.
Mask: We entered absurdist phase of the pandemic, where everything was self-referential. People continued to misuse social media.
Mask: Our country was focusing a lot of attention and energy on the upcoming presidential election. The merchandise designers and manufacturers were in heaven! I started to blog in support of my candidate.
Hair: I had entered the phase where I could not leave home without a hat or restraint designed to keep my hair out of my face.
Mask: As you can tell, the flamingoes in my yard were doing their part to stop the spread of the coronavirus and, while all the voting had been completed, the results of the presidential election were still unknown. What fun!
Hair: I started with the hair-care regime used by many women as a self-preservation tactic.
Mask: Color and design indicated a nascent hope for the future of mankind. Predictions emerge regarding the fate of the 45th President of the United States.
Hair: It’s cold out and I began to learn about the advantages of long hair in winter.
Mask: Some people were fired up about the nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Also, I knew of one family that did not enjoy their Christmas holidays.
Hair: Baby Boomer Post-Hippie. Not a political statement.
Mask: When did you discover that double-masking was a thing? Also, I walked into what I thought was a bicycle shop and discovered this mask, which became my go-to fashion accessory. Also, people kept talking about the failed insurrection of January 6. Well, I was at the capitol that morning. When I returned home, I turned on the TV with some shock, which I duly recorded.
Hair: There was talk around the house that maybe I should just forget getting a haircut after getting vaccinated.
Mask: If we were all going to die from COVID-19, at least we could stare at death in the face and laugh. Also, do you want to know some of the dirty secrets about traveling during a pandemic?
Hair: Ooo-la-la, amrite?
Mask: I like dogs, but do not own a dog. If I were to own a dog, it would not be a pug. However, who couldn’t use a good “Men in Black” reference?
Hair: Getting ready to join the Grateful Dead reunion tour.
Mask: So many masks! I was getting tired of buying new masks! An orange mask was a total compromise. I was not proud of this choice. However, by this time, I was fully vaccinated!! Also, I recorded a music video.
Hair: When I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the woman who jabbed me compared the experience to graduation. I graduated! So…I colored my hair blonde! However, I decided to wait on getting my hair cut until after my loved ones were also fully vaccinated.
June 2021 (Part One)
Mask: No more new masks, but all the masks that I could fit on my face at one time. Not throwing any of them out, because we still need them in some situations – perhaps for the longer term.
June 2021 (Part Two)
Hair: Last known photo before walking to the barber shop.
June 2021 (Part Three)
Hair: All the hair on top of my head was cut.
June 2021 (Final Part)
Hair: Goodbye, Pandemic Ed and hello Real Ed. (Notice the tan line around where the goatee formerly resided)