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Firebird Masks

Military camo face masks made by Firebird USA in Eloy.

It is clear that BC (Before Coronavirus) is going to be much different than AC (After Coronavirus).

But Americans have a knack for learning how to live under restrictions and inconveniences, accepting them in a way that makes them fashionable.

Take masks.

Face masks have been worn by people in Asia for years because of their congested mass transit and air pollution. But images from South Korea and Japan usually show a parade of people donning simple, boring white masks.

But Americans, with their individuality front and center, aren’t going to have any of that.

Masks here can be a fashion statement. Many volunteers have put aside their quilts and are now making masks with artistic and colorful designs similar to what was fashionable for all kinds of outfits in the 1960s.

Then there is the private sector.

As seen in today’s article by Maria Vasquez, an Eloy company that manufactures parachutes for the military has now pivoted to provide camouflage masks customized for each branch of the military. The camo masks have proven so popular that the company now offers them to the public.

But the most innovative mask fashion statement has to be the trikini — a three piece swimsuit with a top, bottom and mask. The trikini isn’t necessarily new. Bikinis have been sold with third accessories like tank tops or wrap-around skirts for years. But the masks make a public health statement as well as a fashion one.

Judging from a photo I saw of one trikini, it looks like more material goes into making the mask than the top and bottom combined. Plastic surgeons will be delighted that their body of work will still be on display. Dentists not so much.

Institutions and sports teams have also gotten into the act by marketing masks with logos and designs supporting a particular team or university.

But fashion won’t be the only pop culture change AC. A night on the town will take on a whole new meaning.

Masks aren’t very practical for people eating and drinking. So they are going to have to be pulled down, or easily put aside for patrons dining out or visiting their favorite watering hole.

Steve Chucri, president of the Arizona Restaurant Association, told our Capitol reporter Howie Fischer that many things will be tried, some temporary, as customers find a comfort level with going out again.

Chucri and his organization will come up with at least some guidelines for dining out after Gov. Doug Ducey said he hopes to once again allow restaurants to serve meals to be consumed on premises, possibly as early as May 12.

Patrons, like employees, may have to have their temperature checked at the door before being allowed entry. Seating may be dispersed with open tables being eliminated in favor of more booths.

You may have to wait in your car to be seated rather than outside a fine-dining establishment, getting a text when your table is ready.

As for fast-food eateries, look for them to resemble banks, with employees behind plexiglass placing your order in a sliding tray.

But whatever restrictions go into place, we will adjust. Just like we did for air travel after 9/11, with having to wait in long lines at security checkpoints before boarding. Ironic that the security measures put in place after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York may have contributed to the rapid world-wide spread of COVID-19.

Look for changes there, also.

In years to come we may look at BC life with fond memories. Some of us remember what it was like to go to a ball game or concert and not have to empty our pockets or have a clear bag for personal items.

Mormons are encouraged to store food that could sustain them for up to a year in the case of a disaster. But what began as an apocalyptic pioneer directive from leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has now evolved into practical preparation in case of an earthquake or hurricane.

Many Mormons have turned “prepping,” as it’s called, into a lifestyle transition that has been adopted by others. A Mormon wedding shower wouldn’t be complete if one or more of the gifts didn’t include a three-month disaster kit or a recipe book for making delicious meals from dehydrated products you rotate out of storage.

There are local companies in Utah that produce quality freeze-dried meals that I found handy for backpacking excursions. And since you buy in bulk, I too always had ample storage in the garage in case of a disaster.

I’m now also the owner of an assortment of masks that have been given to me by thoughtful family and friends.

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You can contact Andy Howell at ahowell@pinalcentral.com.

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