Covid Tales


This morning at Banorte’s bank of ATMs, a tidy, well-dressed, bald, bare-faced customer works the machine, methodically wiping it down with a white disinfecting wipe, as if preparing it for surgery, inserting his card and extracting his money, and then wiping his fingers and the machine down afterward. There is another machine available, but I decide the one the bald man has wiped down is clean enough for me to use second-hand.

Paying attention to which digits I put into use, I note that only the tip of my left index finger touches the machine and its keypad, the same index finger and its adjoining thumb only put into use to pluck the card from my purse’s outer pocket, sliding it in and pulling it out, along with the cash. Perhaps as much as an eighth of a centimeter of my skin touched where others had gone before.

Stuffing my money and debit card back into my purse, I douse my hands with gel, making sure that I smear it all over the bottle for good measure as I walk back to my car. Maybe I was thinking that those viruses and spirochetes were in a mad race to my elbows.

But the story starts in my vestidor, before I took off for the bank, as I make up my face, opting for the good eye shadow, the good eyeliner, telling myself that it’s more necessary now than ever, that I don’t need to be stingy with makeup, because I can buy more when this is all over. Even if my face will be mostly covered and my eyes shaded by dark glasses, it’s important that I know what’s underneath. I draw the parallels with wearing the good underwear and slathering on the good body cream on an ordinary day. No one but me knows it’s there, and maybe that’s what makes it all the more important.


Will we all become super-aware of germs when this is over? The polio years left its mark on many of us. When I was 15, a girl who would go on to become a homecoming queen picked up my drink, supposedly by mistake, and I could not touch it after she had. God only knows what had been in her mouth the weekend before, and I wasn’t taking any chances. She and her pack of wannabees made fun of my germaphobia, and I lost rank that day.

In time, we would get over the ickiness of germs as we passed around joints, took hits from the same bong, and swilled from the same Almaden bottle being passed around. And if a McDonald’s coffee stirrer wasn’t available, a rolled-up Ben Franklin touched more than a few nostrils.

Will the next generation do that?


Masks do more than create a germ barrier, shutting out bad breath as well as emotions.  You can’t see another’s smile, their teeth, whether they’re baring their teeth, grimacing, or sticking their tongue out at you. What will happen to lipstick? And what about white teeth? Will masks be the death knell for porcelain veneers? Will orthodontists be put out of business? Will women stop bleaching their mustaches and plucking those pesky chin hairs? Will people stop trimming those nose hairs?

Earrings and masks don’t often work well together. And those nose rings and studs? Wasted efforts.

Will we start looking into others’ eyes more carefully for signs of life?

And when The Late Unpleasantness abates, will those of us who’ve come to resemble Botero people be back in style?

Or is it all a plot to get everyone into nijabs and burkas?


Back to the bald man with the disinfecting wipes. Assuming, he wasn’t wiping the ATM down with coronavirus, he was showing concern for the next user. Maybe it was just a public version of wiping off stray sprinkles on a toilet seat or putting it down after using it, but it was a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed. And that took me back to thinking about how the masks aren’t about protecting the wearer, but showing respect for others.  And that’s what I tell myself when I put on my eye makeup.




14 comments on “Covid Tales

  1. Suzan Apaydin says:

    Well done post and interesting CV comments!

    Suzan Z. Apaydin

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Shirley Ashley says:

    Yes the mask shows respect for others and it hides, wrinkles, pimples and unwanted hairs. Eye make up is much more important !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Due to incredible foresight, I took out my entire month’s cash from an ATM a couple of weeks ago. It’s good to think ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Steven Immel says:

    I don’t think the masks do that much good after reading a thing from a doctor working on the front lines in a big hospital in New York. Of course they protect others from sneezes and coughs but according to him, what they really do is keep you from touching your face which he says, is most important. What will the future bring is a good question. I too noticed that without seeing the rest of the face, what can you read about that person. I love eyes though! Aren’t they the window to the soul?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. victoria ryan says:

    Cool, thanks! I look forward to more COVID Tales. We are in weird times for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve Cotton says:

    “Will we all become supoer-aware of germs when all this is over?”

    I can answer for no one but myself. And my answer is “Nope.” I have already returned to my infrequent hand-washing habit. And my face and hands are getting re-aquainted.

    I fear I started far too early with my isolation routine. I can fully understand the logic of trying to minimize exposure by treating every other person as if they were members of the Typhoid Mary Hug-me Club, but it has the feel of those people in the 50s who took up residence in their back-yard bomb shelters because they just knew that Ike was going to let loose with The Big One.

    Mexico undoubtedly has not yet felt the full power of the pandemic. But, since nothing has happened that sounds remotely like what some of the governors have been saying, most of my neighbors think the whole thing is just another government lie.

    But, until it passes, I will join you in the personal hygeine routine.

    By the way, very nice piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Immel says:

      I’ve always thought that because I played in the dirt when I was a kid not to speak of working with my family in an excavation business, was one reason, those dirt germs were part of a good immune system. I’m not worried either.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am quickly approaching the point of maximum anxiety with all this Covid stuff. We don’t know when the quarantine, or whatever you call the present situation, will be lifted. Will there be bells and fireworks, or people gradually taking matters into their own hands, and start coming out of their warrens? Is the epidemic not going to hit Mexico as hard because because places like San Miguel implemented preventive measures early, or are we just in the eye of the hurricane helplessly waiting for the wind to start blowing? Don’t get me started. Al

    Liked by 1 person

    • La cuarentena, rhymes with Macarena, sounds less vicious than quarantine, rhyming with Unguentine and Philisitine. But I’d rather refer to is the War of Alien Agression or the War of Chinese Aggression, but since I know how offensive that would be to ajenos and the Chinese, and God forbid that I’d offend anyone, I’ll stick with The Late Unpleasantness.

      While we haven’t yet reached the stage of cutting up the curtains to make party clothes, we can still cheer outselves up by looking ahead to City Market, El Palacio de Hierro, and another tattoo.

      I see our world coming out of the present situation just as gradually as it all came on.


  8. Well, I confess to using a knuckle at the ATM, instead of a finger. But I breathe freely in the belief that TINY inhalations of cv-19 are inoculating everybody — it’s called equilibrium, and will eventually prevail, perhaps even before a vaccine arrives. The human race will survive.


  9. Kim G says:

    What an amazingly considerate man you had in front of you. Such caring for the one behind is almost nonexistent.

    Back in the day when public restrooms sometimes had those long, fabric rolls of towel inside a machine that took up the old as you pulled out fresh towel, I’d make a habit of rolling out a fresh stretch for the next guy. Unfortunately, at least as far as my experience tells, I was the only soul on the planet who ever did so. But maybe the guy ahead of you at the ATM was the other one.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the “late unpleasantness” is getting old and tired.


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