A blue mask hanging from the side of a car window.

To Mask or Not to Mask (by guest Dr. David Luellen)

Now that many of us have taken advantage of the COVID vaccine, it feels like we can take a deep breath. Literally . . . without a mask in most cases. And therein lies the dilemma. Should we or should we not still be wearing a mask? I came across some lighthearted commentary from a church friend on the subject just before the summer break for school. Dr. David Luellen serves as a substitute teacher at some of the nearby schools in my area. Many students consider him to be one of their favorite substitute teachers. Here are some of his thoughts on the matter:

Walking from my car to the door of Chelsea Middle School on Monday morning, I had the eerie feeling that something wasn’t quite right. It seemed something was missing. And something was missing! For the first time during this entire academic year, I was on my way to the classroom minus my face covering.

As of late April (here in Alabama), masks were no longer mandated for students and employees in the Shelby County School system. The choice to mask or not to mask had become one’s own decision.
During my Monday afternoon preparation period, I began counting in my mind all the masks I have gathered over the months that Dr. Fauci has been confusing me with his bewildering pronouncements: masks provide no benefit; masks should be worn anytime you are breathing; two masks combined with a deep-sea diver’s helmet provides absolute protection.

The very day we went under the masking mandate last spring, my son brought me at least a dozen stiff, white, cup-like masks that he wore when he spray painted. A few days later, my granddaughter delivered a dozen FN95 masks. “These are more comfortable than the ones Daddy wears when he is painting,†she advised. Next came scores of those ubiquitous light blue masks with three folds and a bendable nose piece. I also purchased eight fashionable cloth masks to match the colors of the berets that I wear to cover my scalp disfigured in cancer surgery.
I’m now waiting for Dr. Fauci’s edict on how I am to dispose of the more than two dozen superfluous face coverings in my mask stash.

While I chose not to wear a mask in the classroom, I still plan to wear a mask when I shop at Walmart. That way, if I run into a person I know, they won’t recognize me and I won’t be embarrassed when they see my shopping cart piled high with chocolate snacks, potato chips, and oatmeal cookies. All those weeks in hibernation generated a snacking habit.
I think we’ve done well without masks to the end of school. The earth continues to orbit the sun; water remains wet; and California has not careened into the ocean.

What bliss to see student faces in full before departing for the summer – bright faces, joyful faces, beautiful and handsome faces, charming faces, inquisitive faces, and animated faces. [And in third grade, there were a few faces sporting a little leftover lunch!]

I have seen a remarkable resurgence of positive energy among the children and teens whom I serve since our faces have been freed from maskdom’s servitude. Still, outside of school I am often befuddled by a bundle of baffling rules. I stopped at Hobby Lobby last Friday. Wearing a mask is required for employees, but optional for customers. My next stop was Publix where masks were required. My final errand was at Office Max. A bold sign on the front door demanded a face mask for all who enter. But on the inside door an equally bold sign had a different message: Masks Welcomed.

I am reminded of Robert Frosts’s axiom: I’m not confused. I’m just well mixed.

Thank you, Dr. Luellen, for your witty comments. Rules, adherence to rules, masks, and social distancing are changing every day. It’s hard to know what to do. It is quickly becoming a matter of personal choice. Walmart is a no-brainer. I’m still a bit iffy on the grocery store. Church has just now relaxed the requirement. As far as gloves go, I no longer put on a glove at the gas pump.

Whichever way I choose right now, I admit there is some discomfort. I will say this though – now that summer is upon us, I like breathing fresh air and not that stifled mask air. I didn’t mind so much in the winter since my warm breath felt surprisingly good on my face. However, I did make a horrible personal discovery through this mask-wearing pandemic: I have halitosis! I’ll chalk that up to a blessing in disguise. Time to hang my head, close my mouth, and go stock up on breath mints!

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Karen Allen


  1. J.D. Wininger on July 26, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    Enjoyed the humor that your friend approached this matter with. For me, throughout this entire episode, has been the thought that our personal choices and freedom should rule the day. I refused to allow fear to overrule my faith. Have I complied with mask mandates (e.g. wearing one while in the hospital with my wife for surgery, shopping at Wal-Mart, and other places where it was my choice as to whether or not to comply. Did I agree? Not necessarily in all cases, but if it dissuaded someone else’s fears, then the inconvenience of wearing one was a price I was willing to may. We had a choice to either shop there to go elsewhere. Where the “mask nazi’s” stood and the door to enforce their “No Entry Without a Mask Rule”, I chose to take my business elsewhere. Compliance is not surrender, it’s choice. Forced compliance is not choice, it’s tryanny. Just one old farmer’s viewpoint. 🙂 Thank you for a most enjoyable post Ms. Karen.

    • Karen Allen on July 27, 2021 at 5:24 am

      Nice quote, Rancher J.D. “Compliance is not surrender, it’s choice. Forced compliance is not choice, it’s tyranny.” I suppose my entrenched health care and quality assurance background gave minimal notice to the compliance mandates. It makes me sad that people actually were killed by some of those mask nazis.

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Ewe R Blessed Ministries / Karen O. Allen

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