April 06, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended that people should wear face coverings in public places to slow spread of the corona virus. Here in New York City where I live, people have been wearing them for several weeks already.

I know that I should -- and I do -- but it's been hard. It just feels sad. 

Last night as I was taking my evening walk in Central Park I realized why: I can't see people smile, and people greet each other far less when our mouths are covered.

Even before this pandemic, because I live alone and work from home, the smiles and greetings of the people I encounter on my evening walks -- often from total strangers -- were important for my sanity. Now it's more important than ever to maintain the social connection of a smile and a greeting, even as we keep our 6-foot distance.

So I propose we put smiles on our masks. It can be as simple as a Sharpie on a paper mask, or more creative: make your mask smile an expression of yourself and a gift to others.

(Two caveats: don't compromise the integrity of the mask. And, if you are making these life-saving masks for others, put your time where it matters: don't spend a lot of time making an elaborate work of art instead of making masks that would help save someone's life.)

And let's start a new way of smiling: Blink twice for "Hello." Smile behind the mask: let us see the twinkle in your eye. Let the crinkles at the corners of your eyes be the new smile. Crow's feet?  Flaunt them!!

Or even just wave.

Keep saying "Hello," "How are you?" "Have a nice day," even if it's muffled and makes your glasses fog up (like mine).

The corona virus is robbing us of so much -- let's not let it rob us of the simple joy and comfort of sharing a smile.


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