No sober saying is more important than this one. Nor more helpful on a daily basis:
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
The brilliant thing about being thankful is that it is almost impossible to hold onto resentments and gratitude simultaneously. If you want to banish those grouchy grumpy feelings that might drive you to drink or use drugs, just focus on being grateful. I try to do this every day.
But once in a while I run into a resentment for which I cannot find a thankful antidote. For some reason, that feeling of pique is so deep and so stubborn it defies all attempts at eradication.
That’s how it is with me and men and masks. Anyone who watches the news, and I admit to being a junkie, has got to have seen the endless interviews with doctors talking about how wearing masks around other humans, outdoors or in, will slow the spread of the coronavirus and potentially save thousands of lives. Including yours and mine.
And yet a lot of guys ain’t buying it. They just don’t wanna. For some reason they don’t think masking is manly.
There was a time not too long ago when men in face coverings were cultural icons revered by fellas the world over: Batman and Black Panther, Captain America, Wolverine and Spiderman, to name a few, were comic book and screen heroes of my 1960s childhood. In the 1990s, comedy fans loved swagged-out and uber cool Jim Carrey in The Mask. The early 2000’s saw the return of Batman in the Dark Knight movies. There is no doubt that up until recently a masked man was a hero, the ultimate he man, idolized by males and females alike.
Fast forward to 2021, and a typical day in my neighborhood. I am walking my dog, trying to practice sober acceptance and love toward all others, and it happens. Guy after guy walks by without a mask, or with the mask in his hand or around his neck.
Fellas just aren’t going for this thing. And if you don’t believe me, check out the dozens of media reports about how guys don’t dig the new maskulinity
Now recovery is not supposed to be connected to politics, so I am not going to get political or partisan here. But I have to say that one of the cultural trailblazers in the real-men-don’t-mask movement was, as you know, our newest ex-president, Donald John Trump. He is, in the words of one of his favorite pop groups, the Village People, a macho macho man, and masks do not fit into his money-stacking, golf-club-swinging, big-overcoat-and-leather-glove-styling version of masculinity. And millions of dudes took their cues from him.
When I see the fellas walking toward me, talking, laughing, and, yes, even coughing, sans mask on the street, I feel more than a little resentment toward them, and toward our former President for encouraging them to think masks ain’t masculine. And I can’t shake it.
No matter how hard I try, I have not been able to flip my attitude to gratitude in this situation.
Until today. Suddenly I was seized by an admittedly far-fetched but nonetheless effective remedy for my resentment. I am taking my cue from the recovery wisdom telling me that I should go to any length to stay sober.
And what I am about to say is admittedly a stretch.
I have decided to turn my resentment against the ex Prez and his anti-masking followers into a feeling of deep gratitude to former First Lady Melania.
Why on earth would I do that?:
Because unlike Jackie Kennedy or Nancy Reagan or Michelle Obama, the quiet lady in Donald’s shadow never inspired any of us ordinary gals to try to look or act like her. In refreshing contrast to her demanding husband, she didn’t ask us for anything.
I am grateful that while the guys picked up on Donald’s macho swag, I felt no pressure to imitate Melania’s flawlessly beautiful femininity and airbrushed Barbie Doll sexiness.
I don’t want to own a pair of soft black leather thigh-high boots, or master the art of cheekbone contouring with blush, or maintain a bathing suit figure in middle age, or have perfectly blown dry hair or be on a five-outfit-a-day fashion schedule. Somehow the elegant and surprisingly diffident Melania managed to get through four years as First Lady without stepping away from her husband’s side long enough to set a single fashion or lifestyle trend or demand by her very presence that any of us ordinary gals attempt to be an international supermodel of mystery.
To the contrary, it seems to me that during the Trump years, female sartorial standards plummeted into a dismal rut of yoga pants and hoodies, top-to-toe stretchy athleisure fabrics that were unflattering on the best bodies, hideous biking shorts, drab maxi dresses, a million varieties of ugly running shoes and bootywear so scanty it scarcely contained or covered up cabooses that could have used a little support when wearing clingy dresses or leggings. The pressure to be as fashionable as the First Lady was definitely off.
And I am grateful, so grateful, to Melania for this on these dreary February days when I shlep out of the house with my dog in tow, wearing my sorry-but-safe covid couture: baggy loungewear pants, last year’s worn out coat, and a double layer of powder blue surgical masks. I say, thank you, Melania, for your surprising low profile and your modesty. I am sorry you were eclipsed by your domineering spouse. But I am oh so grateful you let me off the hook.