Freed from the mask, I’m all lip gloss and smiles


The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week announced that people who are fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks in many public places. Some states, stores and other businesses may continue to enforce mask mandates. 

But after more than a year of covering our faces for safety, I’m looking forward to going maskless in areas where it is safe and allowed. Let’s celebrate the new guidelines with my Top 10 list of things I’ll happily do without a mask in public. 

1. Open a kissing booth: Half the reason my husband agrees to having plans with other couples is to “social kiss” the women. The social kiss is an obligatory cheek touch/air kiss/smoocheroo as a hello and goodbye, made more fun if your friends are cute. Lucky for me, many of my friends have hot husbands (if you have to ask whether it’s you, it probably isn’t). To make up for lost time, I think a good old-fashioned kissing booth will get everyone back into the swing of things. It’ll be like a quality control check to make sure we haven’t lost the hang of it.  

2. Enjoy gum and mints: This will be especially handy to ensure fresh breath during my shift at the kissing booth.  With a mask and a mint, the steamy breath that goes up by your eyes can be irritating with the minty vapors. Bubble gum is less fun because you can’t blow a bubble under a mask. Well, now I’m going to chomp gum like a bad habit and blow bubbles like it’s my full time job.  

The Rep - advertisement

3. Eat samples at stores: The glory days of going on these errands around lunch time are back! Breeze past the Sam’s Club frozen foods area for a morsel of lukewarm pizza or an eighth of a mini corn dog to tide over your tummy until you get to Costco for your dessert of a teaspoon of sugary yogurt and a thimble full of orange juice. Sadly, being maskless, people will see when I have food stuck in my teeth.

Amy Fenster Brown

4. Wear lip gloss: I’ll probably have to go with a long lasting formula for my kissing booth duties. Otherwise, I’m going high gloss and bright color so people really see me from afar. I’ve been brushing and flossing my teeth as normal, so I’ll wrap them up with a ribbon of color to show them off. Quick story. Years ago, the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, had their own brand of lip gloss. I thought wearing it might make me look super thin like them. I couldn’t decide between a few colors — Mauve-a-rexia or Starving for Fuschia. I settled on Berry Binge and Purge. It was then I self-diagnosed a disorder I call anorexia dyslexia, which is when I think I’m thinner than I really am.  

5. Smell stuff in public: The fine folks at Bath & Body Works have probably missed me. Running in for a gift usually takes me an hour because I open every single candle to get a good whiff. The only time besides COVID when I halted my hobby was when they had weird Thanksgiving themed candles that were supposed to smell like turkey and stuffing or mashed potatoes but actually smelled like dirty feet. Now that I’ll be maskless, I’m going to stop and smell everything: the roses, deodorant, cartons of strawberries and even the cereal boxes, just because I can. 

6. Mouth words to people: This is kind of my calling card at committee meetings. I like to mouth a word or two when a friend in the room makes eye contact. They try to read my lips and usually get thrown off when I mouth the words “vacuum” or “olive juice.”  Try it. It’s super fun.

7. Yell louder at my kids’ sporting events: Though my sons prefer my masked muffled sounds similar to Charlie Brown’s teacher, I would much rather them hear me scream, “Sweetie drink water so you don’t dehydrate on the pitcher’s mound” at the top of my lungs. I usually repeat what other parents yell, but every once in a while I muster up my own rally cry, such as, “I have granola bars in the car” or, “Hurry up, you still have homework.” Now, without my mask, my above-average children won’t be left wondering what witty gems I’ve shouted, and neither will their teammates. 

8. Stick my tongue out at people: You cut in front of me at the deli counter during COVID, you’ll only get a glare. But without my mask, you’ll see my tongue stick out between my bright, glossy lips to know I mean business. Don’t mess with me when I need my sandwich sliced mesquite smoked turkey. You wait your turn or it’s first-grade style nanny nanny boo boo tongue sticking out at you for butting in line. 

9. Burp and sneeze freely: Gross indeed. In mask culture, you certainly don’t want to take yours off and just … sneeze.  A tiny, polite achoo is going to happen, I’m warning you in advance. The burp sounds were muffled by the mask, but then you were stuck inhaling it. So gross. I’ll chalk up my new freedom as an act of self-care, which is on trend. 

10. Smile at people: I’ve been smiling at people when we make eye contact, unless they’ve jump ahead of me at the deli, yet I never see them smile back. It’s because their mouths are covered. Don’t you miss smiling at a stranger and seeing a smile back? I do. Now I’ll be able to see their effort and they will see mine, outlined in colorful lip gloss.

Monthly columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.