Rochel's husband Jaron
The Burstyn family is having some fun with face masks. (Rochel Burstyn)

Can’t live without masks these days.

Years ago, my baby was admitted to Beaumont. Fun fact about Beaumont: It’s a teaching hospital, which means there’s going to be about 10 people taking turns coming in to ask you the same questions over and over again. I think their point is to teach patience. Yes, to teach the patients patience!

Anyhow, one interaction stuck out. A medical student with a very strong Indian accent kept asking, “Is your baby a dumb baby?” I was sure I misheard him, but there’s a limit to how many times you can say “I’m sorry, what??!” so finally I just said “Um, I know he doesn’t say much yet, but he is only 3 months, I mean, give the kid a chance.”

Poor guy looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars and repeated himself again, this time spelling out the word. Turned out he’d asked me if he was a “term baby.”

I can’t even imagine what I would have misheard if the man was wearing a mask, as he undoubtedly is now. Those things act like mini-mufflers.

My husband recently took our 2-year-old to the emergency room and was asked by someone with a thick muffled accent, “Are you dead?” which horrified him until he realized he was being asked, “Are you Dad?”

The Burstyn family
The Burstyn family is having some fun with face masks. Rochel Burstyn | Detroit Jewish News

Masks. Can’t live without them these days, but it’s definitely not fun living with them, either. Personally, I’m part of the lucky few who weren’t bothered by them … until allergy season arrived. Now whenever anything touches my super sensitive nose, my eyes start watering, my face starts tingling and I have that ah-ah-ah-ahm-gonna-sneeze-any-moment-now thing going, which makes pushing a shopping cart kind of hazardous.

But worst is when you drive somewhere, slam your car door shut, happily walk to a shop and suddenly remember: I left my mask in the car.

Actually, no, that’s only second to worst. Absolute worst is when you don’t have a mask in your car either. Because then what? I know everyone sells masks these days, but if you’re not allowed in a shop without a mask, how exactly are you supposed to get inside to buy a new one?

To help avoid just such a situation, there are all these new mask lanyards and mask necklaces so people can wear their masks around their necks. Useful, but until you need them, the mask kind of hovers under your chin, looking like a floating wall from a Nintendo game or a magic flying carpet for LEGO people.

I feel like masks are the new high heels. Not that comfortable, but boy can they look good! I’m loving the styles! Some designs are only “sew-sew,” but there are also some really funky ones out there. I got one with a design of a lip-sticked mouth — talk about a vast improvement!

Another great mask was the one I had made for my husband — out of a picture of his own face. I think the only reason he doesn’t get offended by comments like “That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen” is because it secretly scares him, too.

I also bought a bunch of plain white Hanes (yes, like the underwear) and spent a happy few hours tie-dying them.

Do you think that the masks we wear and how we wear them say something about us? Do you like the disposable ones? You must be practical, brush your teeth religiously and are hopeful the pandemic will end soon. Prefer to wear a funkier design? That says you’re upbeat, glad there’s an excuse to cover the stray hairs growing out of your chin and proudly support small businesses.

That’s all I’ve got to say about masks. I hope I’ve covered everything!

Shanah Tovah! 

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