After the first lockdown in Ireland, the new regulations ‘allowed’ bars with a food license to re-open because apparently, you can’t catch Covid if you eat a ‘substantial meal’ with your pints (and stay less than 90 minutes). I walked into a restaurant/bar and I stood at the counter waiting to be served. I had done this before in my life on enough occasions to feel confident in the knowledge that I know what I am doing but this time, something felt wrong.
The barman approached me with a mask on his face and a sense of righteousness. He informed me that I too had to wear a mask, (even though it was not Halloween); “Hey, sorry to inform you, but if you could just go back outside and put your mask on that’d be great.” He sounded exactly like, Simon Harris (the Irish politician who was the Minister of Health when Covid 19 kicked off. The same guy who said, “ there were 18 other coronaviruses before Covid-19“ and then apologized for making what he called an “awful boo-boo”. This was the superhero who was going to protect the people of Ireland from the virus. This was the point when we all should have moved to Sweden. I am not sure if the barman was deliberately doing an impression of Simon Harris or if this is how of all patronizing little pricks sound.
I gently pointed to other mask-less faces in the bar, ‘Eh, they’re not wearing one…’ to which he responded as if it made perfect sense, ‘Oh, That’s because they are sitting down. You don’t need to wear a mask once you are sitting but I’m afraid I will need to ask you to wear it when you enter the bar”. I will never know for sure if he blushed behind his newly purchased face attire after spouting such pure stupidity out loud but I definitely blushed for him, on behalf of humanity.
It felt foolish to have to say, ‘But I’m already in the bar’. Despite that fact, he wanted me to go back outside, put a mask on my face, and re-enter as if we were re-shooting a really shitty scene from the movie of my life. I looked at him as if he had just pulled a strawberry out of his pants and ate it while staring me in the eyes but instead of apologizing or saying “I’m only taking the piss.”, he looked at me as if I was the one being weird. I felt like I was on a different planet run by complete and utter lunatics as I tried to comprehend the ‘new norm’, where I didn’t know how to buy a pint in peace.
I just wanted a fucking pint but part of me felt like falling down and crying which I could not do in case there might be covid germs on the floor. Also, tears spread covid. Tears can now kill people (as if tears were not sad enough by themselves). So I remained standing strong holding back the tears to do my bit in reducing the spread of covid.
As a performer and events promoter, I had lost my career, income, and passion overnight. Instead of happily moving to Zoom and getting free government covid money that they magically plucked out of the sky without any consequences for us or future generations, I entered lockdown with a heavy heart. I attempted to drown my sorrow in alcohol, Netflix, and self-pity. I really wanted Simon to stop talking to me about masks. Since then, I swapped drinking and Netflix for lemon water and meditation, but I am still up to my nipples in self-pity as I watch ridiculous, unwarranted regulations divide and conquer that which I love.
I said the following inside my head, ‘Hang on, so what you’re suggesting is that even though I have already come in here without a mask on, you think that in some way it will help reduce the spread of Covid if I go back outside, put a mask on and then walk back in again. I just don’t think reality works like that, Simon. I don’t think pretending to go back in time will make everything okay again. But if you really think it will help,, fine. But why not take this idea of yours a step further? Why don’t we all go back to January and pretend to start the year again? In fact, fuck it, let’s just go back to November 2019 and stop that dude in Wuhan getting jiggy with that sexy bat.
I explained I was already inside the bar and asked if I could just sit on my seat as it was closer than the door. “No! I’m sorry but it’s the law, so I’m afraid we all must work together … so if you don’t mind?”. I really just wanted to sit down and have a pint to escape this madness, I didn’t want to get involved with this nonsense but the more he talked the more I started to despair. At that moment, my head declared that there’s no hope for humanity, we are completely lost and Bill Gates may as well depopulate the planet. The thought that this guy actually loved wearing this mask over his mouth, was defending it and now wanted to force it on others caused negativity to swirl around my mind. Momentarily, fear took control of all things good inside me. I started to think he is suffering from some sorry of Stockholm-mask-syndrome. For him, it is like carrying a big gold medal that says, ‘I CARE’. I’d say he would happily wear goggles if the government suggested it, maybe even nipple tassels and a chin dildo. The thought of chin-dildo made me smile and the fear crawled back into its place.
When someone is being ridiculous but you have a witness to share the moment with, you can laugh it off and maybe just feel sorry for the lunatic, but without a witness, you are alone. I was very alone and for a moment I wondered if I was the mad one, but I quickly came to my senses and responded, “Yeah actually I do mind because I don’t have to wear a mask according to section 5iia of the legislation. Basically, anyone who suffers from severe stress from the wearing of a mask doesn’t have to.” He was not happy with my newly acquired condition but at the same time, he didn’t want to be the guy who kicked out a possible gold medal winner at the Special Olympics. (If there was an award for being a prick, maybe).
You may be thinking, “Ah come on Aidan, you don’t really get severe stress from wearing a mask. Do you?” Good questions! I have no piece of paper from a doctor but also I don’t need a doctor to tell me how I feel. The truth is, I fear if I wear a mask I might be participating in a dangerous second wave of fear which is being used as a tool to fool humanity out of our basic human rights such as the right to travel, the right to earn a living, the right to gather, the right to connect as human beings, the right to hug, touch and breathe freely. I am deeply afraid of the consequences of the transfer of wealth and oncoming economic depression, enforced vaccinations, and unquantifiable psychological damage on the human psyche…. So yeah wearing a mask does cause me stress.
Anyway, what would my more free-thinking friends say if they saw me wearing a mask? I’m too embarrassed to wear a mask. The only reason I would wear a mask is to hide my blushes from having to wear a mask in the first place.
My brother, Stephen genuinely forgot his mask and Simon refused him entry. He was now standing at the door with his arms crossed and chest, he had transformed from simpleton Irish politician to John B. Rambo. My brother, the legend, borrowed one of our used masks and put it on his face right in front of Simon. “Look I don’t think that is very responsible, but at least you are following the rules”. You see! That’s my point. Very few people are actually afraid of Covid, except for people who are unwell, vulnerable, and except for people who still watch and believe the news. The really lost souls are the ones who are driving their cars, on their own with their mask on. There is no saving them and they should not even be allowed to drive a bumper car.
People are much more afraid of getting a dirty look from a stranger than covid. I recently saw a group of women on the bus with masks on their necks. They put the masks on their necks because they were more afraid of ruining their make-up than covid. They need to spend trillions on media campaigns to constantly warn us how dangerous it is because the public thinks it’s less deadly than smudged lipstick! Statistically, that sounds about right. Other people are wearing masks because they are afraid of hearing a boring story, “I know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone and they died… Yeah, they had leukemia, a heart condition, they were 98 years old at the time… but I’m pretty sure it was the old covid that got them in the end.’
Then my friend Conor, who has a genuine disability (paraplegic) arrived in his wheelchair but was refused a straw for his pint because it’s “too dangerous as it can’t be individually wrapped”. So we had to hold Conor’s pint up to his lips with our covid-ridden fingers but luckily he was safe because, as Simon had already pointed out, you can’t get covid when you are sitting down in a bar. Which makes Conor invincible against Covid. Lucky bastard!
Then Simon had the audacity to give us a lecture, “Look guys we really need to work together. You guys need to take this a little bit more seriously, so I need to ask everyone to wear a mask when you are going to the toilet which is for your own safety. Does everyone understand this now?” Conor shouted out, “Sorry mate, it’s hard to hear you with that stupid mask on your face.