We’re All Mad Here

 

I wear masks. Disposable. Cotton print. Functional. Boring.

When I ordered them, I thought the plague, and thus the mode of dress, would be temporary.

Seeing no end to the madness, however, I’ve decided to dress in style.

To an English major, style looks like like this.

 

Shakespeare knew about plagues. He lived through them.

The article ‘He Didn’t Flee’: Shakespeare And The Plague begins this way:

During the 16th century, a young couple in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, lost two of their children to the bubonic plague.

The pair barricaded themselves inside to protect their 3-month-old son — William Shakespeare. . . . 

Waves of the bubonic plague killed at least a third of the European population across centuries. A year or so before Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet,” a powerful plague struck London in 1593.

Theatres closed for 14 months and 10,000 Londoners died, says Columbia University professor and author James Shapiro.

The writer reminds us that the ending of Romeo and Juliet turns on the plague: Friar Lawrence sends a message to Romeo in Mantua that Juliet isn’t really dead. But his emissary, Friar John, is suspected of lodging in an infected house and is quarantined–and so Romeo never gets the message. And believing Juliet is dead, he kills himself; seeing him dead, Juliet kills herself. . . .

Shakespeare lived because his parents quarantined themselves. Two of his characters died because a third was quarantined by the authorities.

I’ve been mostly barricaded in my home for twenty months, leaving to go only to medical appointments. The same for my husband; he picks up groceries at curbside. We get a lot of meds through the mail.

I’m grateful I’m in a position to stay home. I’m grateful for workers who make it possible for me to have food and other necessities.

I’m grateful for vaccines and boosters, for scientists who develop them and people who take them.

I’m grateful for masks and people who wear them.

Shakespeare was right about so many things. I wish he were right about this: We shall every One be mask’d. 

If everyone were, maybe we could stop being masked sooner.

The next stylish mask I’m going to order quotes the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

We’re all mad here.

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As always, I’m delighted when readers comment. But comments claiming that wearing masks or refusing vaccination limits freedom, or anything of that ilk, will be deleted. Too many people have died, too many are behaving responsibly in an attempt to stay alive and to keep others alive. Feel free to disagree with me, but do it on your own blog. 

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Illustration by John Tenniel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

#AtoZChallenge Day C: Contrariwise

I believe I’ve fallen behind.

My Day B (April 2) post went online about five minutes before Day C started in my time zone. Now, less than four hours before Day D begins, I’m just starting on Day C.

Technically, I’m okay–observing the letter of the law (take some time to chuckle over that before reading on) but giving the spirit short shrift.

I haven’t observed a few other guidelines, either. I was supposed to–or maybe just invited to–choose a theme and reveal it here last month. But I couldn’t settle on anything, so I skipped that step.

It’s a shame, because I had a pretty good idea: Contrariwise. In the first place, I love the word. It reminds me of the first time I saw it in print, Alice’s meeting with Tweedledum and Tweedledee:

They stood so still that she quite forgot they were alive, and she was just looking round to see if the word “TWEEDLE” was written at the back of each collar, when she was startled by a voice coming from the one marked `DUM.’

`If you think we’re wax-works,’ he said, `you ought to pay, you know. Wax-works weren’t made to be looked at for nothing, Nohow!’

`Contrariwise,’ added the one marked `DEE,’ `if you think we’re alive, you ought to speak.’

`I’m sure I’m very sorry,’ was all Alice could say . . .

`I know what you’re thinking about,’ said Tweedledum: `but it isn’t so, nohow.’

`Contrariwise,’ continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’

I was seven years old, lying on the back seat of my Uncle Joe and Aunt Laura’s new car, on the way home to Del Rio after a week-long visit with family in Fentress, and reading Alice in Wonderland, when all of a sudden, my stomach revolted. We stopped at the next service station so they could hose me down. My grandfather, who occupied the other half of the back seat, somehow managed to stay out of the line of fire. Aunt Laura said, “I told you lying down to read would make you carsick.” But it never had, and it hasn’t since, so I think other forces must have been at work.

Anyway, I’ve loved contrariwise ever since. Go figure.

I learned the base word, contrary, long before Alice. My great-aunt Ethel used it to describe her mare, Lady. It was an apt term. That horse personified the expression, “Beauty is only skin deep.”

She never unseated anyone; she simply refused to cooperate: hard to catch (she could walk faster than I); hard to bridle (she was taller than I); hard to saddle (she found the nearest pecan tree, leaned against it, and walked ’round and ’round while I followed, holding the saddle shoulder high and trying to heave it across a moving target.

Once saddled, she gave up being a moving target and became a stationary one. If I wanted to go one way and she wanted to go another, she didn’t insist on her way. She just stopped. And stood. And stood. And stood.

When I was four or five years old, my father let me ride her around in the little fenced enclosure where we kept chickens while he worked. Every time we neared the gate, she stopped. I would holler for my dad. He would come, say, “I told you not to let her get near the gate,” and lead her past. We would make another circuit. She would stop. I would holler for my dad. He would come, say, “I told you not to let her get near the gate,” and lead her  . . . You get the idea.

So there it was. Contrary Lady. Contrary Kathy.

Oh, darn. It’s nearly midnight. Day D.

Contrariwise.

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To read what other bloggers in the Blogging A to Z Challenge wrote on Day C, click AtoZ.

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Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.