“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

That quote about the implied meaning of objects in dreams is often credited to Sigmund Freud, pioneer psychoanalyst. It turns out that Freud really enjoyed cigars, but never said the famous quote.

I wonder what Freud would make of the recent hubbub centered around wearing face coverings.

As we continue to deal with the social and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, face coverings have become a seemingly partisan issue.

The lockdown we all endured was intended to give hospitals time to prepare for the increased number of cases that are occurring now. It was never intended to be a permanent solution to starve the virus of hosts by virtually eliminating all person to person contact.

The lockdown was oppressive, financially devastating and scary as hell. It is understandable we all want some return to normalcy, but until a vaccine is developed, each of us needs to find ways to live our lives and manage health risks associated with everyday life.

The concept and practice of social distancing worked in earlier pandemics and scientific evidence regarding the spread of the coronavirus indicates that in instances where close contact cannot be avoided, face coverings can help minimize exposure of the virus.

Research indicates some people who don’t display symptoms of the virus (referred to as asymptomatic) can spread it. Studies show that simply talking in an enclosed space can put the virus in the air.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

When I think about this and face coverings, I think about how strange I feel when I wear a mask and how funny I look wearing one. They also make my glasses foggy when I exhale.

But then I think about the folks who wore face masks before the pandemic (and still do now): doctors, dentists, hygienists, surgeons and nurses. They wear them in serious instances to protect their patients and themselves.

When I think of it that way, it makes sense to wear one in places when shopping. It’s a sign of courtesy to others. I am adjusting to wearing a mask in retail environments and it feels a bit less strange. I find imagining myself as an outlaw helps.

I also understand that many people don’t want to wear a mask, for a variety of reasons. In addition to it feeling strange and making a person look different, some people are hard to understand speaking while masked. Others feel wearing a mask infringes on their personal liberties. Some feel coronavirus is not serious and we need to develop immunity from the virus.

I get it and can see both sides of the issue.

But to generalize that mask wearers are frightened and weak is wrong. It’s also wrong to think those who choose not to wear masks are bullies and less intelligent.

I think the first thing we all need to work on is understanding and respecting the choices of others. Tolerance of others is deeply rooted in our national conscience. When times get tough, we need to remember who we are as a nation.

And sometimes, a mask is just a mask.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.