With half your face obscured, you find yourself over-compensating to a deranged degree. Nobody can see you smiling or frowning, so instead you start manically eye-rolling, nodding and ‘smiling’ (smiling with your eyes – copyright: model Tyra Banks). Rather than friendly, this makes you come across as a chronic over-actor. You also start gesturing with your hands like a holidaymaker who can’t speak the local lingo. You point! You mime! You hold up fingers to indicate how many! A wave followed by a thumbs-up! Who are you, a gameshow contestant? Bruno Tonioli? We never knew that wearing a mask would throw up so many inconveniences. Recognise any of these?
Your breathing sounds bizarrely loud
You never realised your breathing was so deafening. Can everyone hear this? Yoga teachers always tell you to focus on your breathing but this is ridiculous. You sound like an asthmatic Darth Vader. You even find yourself holding your breath just so you can get some peace and concentrate.
You forget that you’re wearing one
You know those nightmares about being naked in public? Or turning up to an exam in your bra and knickers? The mask equivalent is sudden panic that you’ve forgotten to put it on. Your hand flies up to your face or you glance at your reflection to check. Phew. It’s still there. Breathe a sigh of relief. Well, until the next time.
You get a sweaty muzzle
Who knew your mouth and nose perspired so much? Gross. During the recent heatwave, you seriously considered googling ‘air-conditioned masks’.
Your glasses steam up
Yes, thanks, you’ve heard all the suggestions: wearing your glasses slightly lower down your nose, tighter-fitting mask, exhaling downwards, washing your specs in soapy water. Yet still the lenses mist over like you’ve just opened the dishwasher.
You become a mask monitor
When you wear a mask in public, you suddenly become an expert at spotting people who aren’t. Are they officially exempt? Should you say something? Gesture towards your own mask? No, you’ll settle for keeping your distance and giving them a Paddington hard stare. You’re British, after all.
Your lipstick gets smudged
Smeared lippy and stained fabric woe. You’re the real victim of this global health crisis.
A fellow mask-wearer tries to chat you up
You’re wearing a mask. He’s wearing a mask. That’s enough of a connection for some arrogant sex pest to start awkwardly hitting on you. Hey, he’s not let many years of failed approaches and total lack of interest put him off. Why should the small matter of a pandemic stop him? Cheer up, love, it’s just a bit of banter.
You get sore ears
Wear a mask for more than an hour and your lugholes start to ache annoyingly. You find yourself peering at them in the mirror, turning your head from side to side, trying to work out if they’re swollen. This must be how Prince Charles and Will Smith feel.
You answer the phone sounding like a pervert
‘Yello? Nng yes, dis is me. Wang on a binute, I’ll juss take moy mask ov.’ You know how kidnappers in films and creepy callers put a handkerchief over the mouthpiece to disguise their voice? That’s what it sounds like when you answer a mobile call forgetting you’re wearing a mask.
Your mask gets tangled in your earrings
Dangly earrings, especially hoops, now represent a serious risk of mask entanglement. The elastic loops get caught in them, making it impossible to take off your mask. Even if you manage to extricate one side, you end up with the mask dangling from the other ear in an undignified lop-sided manner and have to scurry to a mirror to unhook it. Oh, the glamour. Guess that’s why you don’t see many surgeons wearing earrings.
You lose it in your handbag
Rummage, rummage. Tut. Sigh. Rummage some more. How can a piece of fabric with straps be so hard to find in your bag? Probably because it’s hiding underneath your purse, make-up bag, water bottle, book, tissues, keys, diary, mobile and several thousand receipts. Oh, to hell with it, just tip the lot out and start sifting through it while weeping.
People don’t recognise you
With half your face covered and your trademark dazzling smile not visible, neighbours, colleagues and casual acquaintances start to look straight through you. You find yourself briefly tugging your mask down to reveal yourself, like a master of disguise. Although there’s always the possibility that they’re blanking you and just using the mask thing as an excuse. Surely not?
You get self-conscious about your breath
You always blithely assumed that your own breath was naturally fragrant and minty. Morning breath, let alone actual halitosis, was for other people. But this era of mask-wearing is starting to make you paranoid. You find yourself suspiciously sniffing your mask, telling yourself it must be that new detergent you’re using.
You get ‘maskne’
Not the most glamorous side effect but sweat build-up or a grubby mask can cause rashes and breakouts. You haven’t been this spotty since you were a teenager surviving on a diet of chips and chocolate. Which, now we mention it, sounds like happy days.
You spend twice as long doing your eye make-up
This season, the eyes have it. Other people are paying more attention to your eyes, so you do too. You’ve spent so long getting your brows on point, curling your lashes, applying extra mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow that you’ve missed your train. Still, you might be late but at least you look hot.
You pour water on it
The previously simple act of having a drink on the bus has suddenly become fiendishly difficult. Do you briefly take off the mask or wear it under your chin, like a fabric beard of shame? No, you forget you’re wearing it, raise the bottle to your covered lips and tip water over your mask. Don’t worry, nobody saw (they totally did).
You get ‘mask hair’
It’s the 2020 version of hat hair. Taking your mask on and off is playing havoc with your coiffure, darling. Not to mention those stray hairs that get stuck under your mask, which can lead to…
It tickles and you sneeze
At which point you’re instantly paranoid that people will think you’ve got coronavirus. You try to laugh it off but can’t communicate this properly because you’re wearing a face mask. So instead everyone scurries away like you’re mad. Which is nice.
Some wag compares you to Bane from Batman
Every. Blooming. Time.