I went to a therapist for acupuncture treatment on my feet—strange intimacy with oil and tiny needles between toes. Ever had anything like that?
Funny thing. The lady wore a mask. Was it standard sterile procedure or carry-over Covid precaution? Strangely, I had to wear one too, even though folks were no longer doing that, these days. So, to get to the point, I could not see the therapist’s face. She seemed nice enough. Spoke with a foreign accent…middle European perhaps. Afterwards, as she scanned my credit card, I felt a compulsion to see what she looked like.
Perhaps this need arose from my current enrollment in a senior online dating site which, as often as not, offered a prospective hook-up with no photo attached. Explanations for that, I suppose, range from lack of a good camera to outdated photographs to unflattering selfies. I certainly know about that. I was a photographer in a hospital setting and when a female subject demurred over a PR or ID pic, by saying “I don’t take a good picture.” I invariably responded with, “There’s no such thing as a non-photogenic woman. There’s just a clumsy photographer.” That is, until I showed up for a shot with a genuinely attractive nurse and later had to admit she was right. She didn’t take a good picture, because obviously I wasn’t clumsy.
Back to my masked pin pusher. I was curious. I wanted to see what she looked like under her mask. Working in a hospital for twenty years, I got pretty good at reading expressive eyes flashing above the ubiquitous lower-face shield. I could tell that this lady was warm and friendly.
Still, there are boundaries—fine lines to be maintained between modesty and mystery, burkas and bikinis. I needed to respect that. But hey, since Covid has slowed down we no longer need to play Lone Ranger and Tonto asking “Who was that masked man?” So, I straight-out asked if she would mind lowering her mask so I could see her smile. She did and offered the expected full grin that her eyes had telegraphed.
Funny, isn’t it, how we don’t think to notice something until it’s covered up, that it doesn’t become a mystery until we hide it. Except, I still don’t think nudist colonies quite make sense.
Retired trainer, and writing instructor, Joe Novara lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Writings include novels, short stories, a memoir and various poems, plays, anthologies and articles. In, Pinata Belly, and other tales of later love, Novara reminds of the limits and ultimate hope for online dating sites.