2442: Mask Opinions
Title text: Although regardless of how everything else shakes out, I definitely won't mind if the norm "wear a mask if you're feeling sick" sticks around after this.
Cueball and White Hat are having a conversation about face masks, which have become everyday essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cueball has become exasperated with the weight of mask-related knowledge on his mind at all times, citing examples of instances of conversation in which he irritably divulges his knowledge of face masks. White Hat tries to placate him with the idea that this won't go on forever. He suggests thinking and talking about other things, but given Cueball's obsessive tendencies in the past, this is unlikely to occur. The final words of the comic, "Well. Soon." may be a pun on the phrase "Get Well Soon", commonly said as an expression of sympathy for someone who is sick or injured. In this case, White Hat hopes that Cueball will be able to stop talking about masks soon, which in turn means that he hopes for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. (It is not stated whether he hopes for an end to the coronavirus pandemic simply so that he can stop hearing Cueball talk about masks or because of the lives that would be lost if the pandemic continued.)
In the title text, Randall implicitly endorses White Hat's hope, while suggesting that the new norm of wearing a mask when you feel sick will still be useful after the pandemic ends. Given that masks lower the transmission rates of many viral infections, including the common cold, this could be a wise strategy for avoiding illnesses in the future. Such a practice has been present for some time before the pandemic in other countries, Japan among them, where the habit of masks is the result of the last big pandemic (Spanish Flu, 1919/1920), but in North America the practice began (and may end) with COVID-19. Eliminating the common cold through masks, in this case via hazmat suits, has been examined in the What If? chapter 'Common Cold'.
- [Cueball and White Hat are standing and talking. Both are wearing masks.]
- Cueball: I am so excited not to have so many opinions about different kinds of masks at the forefront of my brain at all times.
- White Hat: Seriously.
- [The panel is zoomed in on Cueball's upper body. His hands are raised.]
- Cueball: "Do you know any tricks for getting a good seal around the bridge of your nose?"
- Cueball: I do, and I want to stop knowing them.
- [Cueball is walking away from White Hat with his hands raised above his head.]
- White Hat: You could always try talking about something else.
- Cueball: Honestly not sure I can!
- White Hat: Well.
- White Hat: Soon.
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