As Colorado has shifted from the strict “Stay at Home” to the somewhat less rigid “Safer at Home” order this past month, I have slowly started to emerge from the cozy cocoon of my home. I feel like a pudgy bear, slinking out of my den after a long winter of hibernating (i.e. binging on Netflix and nachos). And as I squint out at the world (my eyes straining to readjust to natural sunlight), I gotta say — the ‘new normal’ looks pretty weird to me.

Take wearing a facemask, for instance. In the pre-cootie world, bad guys wore masks to rob banks. So when I wear my mask outdoors, even though it’s the ‘new normal’ and the socially responsible thing to do, I feel vaguely guilty. Like maybe I just knocked off a liquor store — but I have amnesia and forgot. And now the cops are on their way to arrest me. I keep looking over my shoulder, waiting for the “Bad Boys” soundtrack to start playing as I get pulled over and hauled to the slammer.

I also suck at mask wearing. This week I wore my reusable mask as I was running some errands, but I didn’t realize I had flipped it inside-out by accident. I had a huge lipstick smear on the used-to-be-inside-but-now-outside of the mask. And I didn’t realize my mistake until I’d worn said lipstick-stained mask all around town. Is this the new equivalent of tucking your dress into your pantyhose? I am not sure how major of a social faux pas I made, but I think it must at least rank close to having toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

Clothes shopping now is also anything but normal. The changing rooms at clothing stores are barricaded off with flashing construction lights and crime scene tape. So instead of trying on clothes to see if they will fit over my thunder-thighs, or if the style is appropriate for a woman over 40, I have to dig in the recesses of my brain, wipe the dust off of this contraption called my ‘imagination,’ and try to determine if a garment I am considering purchasing will be flattering — or if wearing it in public will get me hauled to jail by the fashion police.

I guess my imagination is defective. I bought a dress this past week — the emerald color is eye-catching. The fabric is soft and stretchy. In my brain, my imagination math said, “pretty color plus stretchy fabric equals dress will look good on me.” The math lied. When I got the dress home and tried it on, I was aghast when I stepped in front of the mirror. I looked like a cross between Laura Ingalls and Ma Kettle, ready to hop on a wagon and trek west across the plains in my stretchy emerald-green prairie dress. Nope. Not a fan. But I can’t take the dress back to the store, because now that it’s been in my house, it has my cooties. And cootie clothes are not returnable.  

Another weird thing — thermometers are now the master of my destiny. I had to pass temperature checks twice so far this week — once to enter my school building to pack up for the summer, and again to enter my beautician’s shop for some long-overdue beauty duty. Every time I pass a temperature check, I feel like Charlie from “Willy Wonka” — “98.6? Excellent! You’ve won the golden ticket! Come right this way, my dear, and claim your prize!”

At the end of the day, there’s nothing normal about the ‘new normal.’ It’s weird. But I will adjust to it for as long as this nasty bug lasts. As we all will. That’s part of the beauty of being human: we are highly adaptable to the curve balls the planet throws our way.

Except for these darn Miller moths — they just need to skedaddle on out of town.

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