• Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

Is Mask-Slipping the New Manspreading?


Jan 21, 2021

Could it be that men just need more air than women and children? In scuba diving, the conventional wisdom is that men tend to use more air, partly because of body size. But, experienced divers and instructors tend to use less air, even if they are male. I had a diving partner who was a large man, and he used less air than the dive masters and the women on board. Of course he had been diving for longer than any of the dive masters, and he smoked, so maybe he was used to getting less air.

Also, I don’t want to be picky and focus on reality, but you can breathe through a mask. It’s not as pleasant as breathing without a mask. And you may feel that you deserve more air than you are getting, or that, like a subway seat or the wide-open prairie, the air is a place for a man to stretch out and breathe free.

Still the simple fact — and President Biden wants us to return to facts — is that men have no greater need for either the subway seat, or a free breathing nose, than either women or children.

Finally, there’s the possibility that men are just slobs. They are always hitching up their pants, tucking in their shirts, swiping their hair out of their faces. Call it the Bannon theory. But this can’t be true, because John Roberts is as neat as any man I’ve ever seen.

I am left with the conclusion that man slippage is like manspreading. We — some of us — do it because we are, well, men. And you know what men are like.

I don’t let my mask slip, but it’s not because I’m pure at heart. It’s because I’m terrified. I’m scared of the virus and of breaking rules. I grew up Catholic, and I know what it feels like to get smacked with a steel-edged ruler if you smile at the wrong time, let alone risk the death of others in the community. I don’t actually see any nuns around me, most of the time. But wearing a mask is a small price to pay just in case.

Here’s where I should offer a solution. Well, I don’t have one. I’ve diagnosed the problem. I leave it to someone else to figure out what to do about it. Maybe Nancy Pelosi has an idea or two.


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