It’s the first day back from spring break. I wake up in my Canaday common room and pull back my privacy curtain, energized, but late. I hurriedly apply makeup to the top half of my face, forgoing the bottom half, match my outfit to my chic N-95, and bolt to Sanders Theater for my first class of the day.
I walk to my usual spot in the dark crevices of the balcony, excited to catch up on my emails, update my LinkedIn profile, and feed my Webkinz Pets (I hope they’re doing ok). That’s when I look up. I’m in shock. No one is wearing masks.
Then I remember the three contradictory and confusing emails sent weeks ago from Dean Gay, Dr. Nguyen, and Uncle Larry. The lengthy block texts hid an important message that I had not bothered to read: the mask mandate had been lifted.
Now, the cloth that I had grown so dependent on is obsolete. I scan the room. I am surrounded by wide nostrils, tiny chins, and, oh dear god, goatees. My eyes are burning. Everyone is so… ugly.
My eyes immediately start to turn toward my crush’s regular spot on the balcony across from me. Though the extent of our relationship has been gazing into his Color-test-kit-blue eyes and batting my falsies before quickly looking away, playing hard to get, I know it’s the real deal. From what I could tell above his mask, he had perfect features: luscious hair, manicured eyebrows, and the smoothest nose bridge anyone has ever seen.
I thought we would, one day, get married in Tercentenary Theatre. That is, until my eyes catch the area right beneath his perfect nose. He has a…handlebar mustache? Since when do 19-year-olds have handlebar mustaches? Can 19-year-olds even grow hair like that? My future husband looks more like Nietzsche than Niall J. Horan.
Blood pumping, I quickly look toward my professor. My stomach drops. I only took MCB1520 because I heard the professor would be a DILF. Now, he looks like a DIWA: Dad I Would Avoid. I should have Googled him beforehand; then I would’ve seen the nostril hair.
I immediately question my own mask status. Is the bottom half of my face presentable for the whole world to see? Though I certainly do not have a goatee, yellow teeth, or long nostril hair, maybe I have other features that people might find repulsive.
I decide that I’ve relied on a facial crutch for too long. But I still worry that people will be as disappointed with the bottom half of my face as I have been with theirs.
But that doesn’t happen. In my initial shock, I guess I must’ve forgotten that I’m actually really, unfairly gorgeous, and that everyone wishes they looked this hot. As I rip off my mask, rays of sunshine emanate from my tiny, tiny pores, rivaling the professional studio lights in Sanders. All 600 people in the lecture hall turn toward the balcony to observe my radiance. Eyes widen, pupils dilate, and sleeping students awaken — my beauty is a rare find. Suddenly, everyone starts clapping — some even faint — and I stand up to take a bow.
In a sea of maskfishes, I am a maskcatch. ;).