Monday Mail Call at the Manor


Included in today’s mail, my first birthday card of the year and two paper-and-fabric surgical face masks. The week is off to a good start. Sort of.

The masks did not come with the card, which is actually a postcard sent by the company that manages our retirement funds. Postcards, of course, generally contain little more than information…messages. The message on the front of the card demanded (sans a bang) “Happy Birthday” rendered large in a shadowed scriptish font that suggests strips of white toilet paper or blank ticker tape cleverly curved into the requisite characters over a blue background with the company’s logo centered at the bottom on a slim red and white banner. Old Glorious enough to salute. The obverse conveys gratitude in the form of “From all of us at American Equity, thank you for your continued business!” and offers best wishes in the form of “HAVE A WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY!Powerful sensory typesetting evoking loud and louder. Anyway, the card was thoughtful of them and certainly timely. My birthday is eight days hence. They beat Medicare this year.

The surgical masks were a gift from an old friend of ours. I’ll call her “Judith,” for she would vehemently, and honestly, deny that's her name. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see her often enough anymore. We moved south to North Carolina six years ago while Judith still lives in Manhattan, where I imagine these masks are becoming scarce and dear. This gift, as it were, is not tied in any way to my, alas, ever-approaching birthday. In fact, they were sent to my wife Donna (otherwise known to readers of these pages as the Director of Domestic Tranquility). According to the Director, during a recent phone call between she and Judith the topic of conversation somehow turned to surgical masks. The context wasn’t explained, but it seems the Director at some point declared she's disinterested in wearing these masks, as am I. Their delivery today is Judith's caring way of saying “I insist.” (Thank you, Judith. We love you too.)

The masks arrived in an envelope, wrapped in a sheet of paper bearing a loving term of endearment hand-writ large. I won’t waste my time and yours by describing them. If you do not know what a surgical mask looks like by now, I deeply envy you. As for me, I’ve seen more than enough. If I were asked to designate a single symbol to represent our sad situation, the surgical mask wins hands down. Ironically, it’s almost certain that people, by and large, vastly overestimate the efficacy of these masks when it comes to preventing the spread of coronavirus among the general population. (This applies to any coronavirus.) But the masks are harmless at worst. They clearly afford a sense of security, and donning them no doubt satisfies, to some extent, a need to “do something.”

Unfortunately, I find myself in the position of needing to “do something.” Get to a dentist. I’ve been hosting a toothache for several days now, which—in league with another torn rotator cuff—has proved detrimental to my already foul mood. I called my dentist’s office this morning to learn, as expected, they’re only taking emergency cases. A bothersome toothache, I was pleased to hear, qualifies. My emergency, however, will have to wait until tomorrow at 2:00 PM. That’s okay. I can handle it. Army tough!

Now in a perfect world, all medical, dental, and veterinary facilities would have such an abundance of resources and staff that any and every emergency could and would be handled immediately, with no need for triage. As that is not the case in our not-so Brave New Dystopian World, I’ll just have to grin and bear for another day. Occupy my mind elsewhere. Crank out a pointless blog post, perhaps. That should keep me busy until Happy Hour here at the Manor, where it’s Monday, and I got mail.

So. How’s your day going?

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