I find myself wearing a mask
31 October 2012
Halloween is upon us and alongside it, all of the hoopla it entails. Shops are adorned with witch’s hats, pitchforks, devil horns, hollowed out pumpkins and many more similar things. And though Halloween is not celebrated in South Africa on a large scale similar to those we see overseas, I believe the trend is gaining ground. With more Halloween dress up costumes and accessories available, awareness is created. In certain neighbourhoods kids even go trick or treating. I do however think it is quite uncommon to knock on virtual stranger’s doors. And that it is usually done within the safety of a security village or gated community. Even warning neighbours in advance, of intentions to call upon them, urging them to stock up on sweets.
And so, with all of the Halloween goodies abounding, my thoughts drifted to dress-ups and the outfits that one sees on TV and on the Internet. Kids donning elaborate and fun costumes. If memory serves, my little niece in England, donned a punk-rock-gothic-princess-chick theme last year. And seeing the pics of others on Facebook, masks are big. Which in turn made me think about masks and how I wear one every single day of my life. Not something exotic and adventurous like a Batman mask or a Supergirl mask. Perhaps something a bit more mundane. Yet, essential to my “superpowers” none the less. Because I simply cannot face my day and the world in general without…..
Eyeliner. No, don’t laugh. I’m being one hundred percent serious here. My eyeliner is the mask behind which I hide. Without it I feel naked and vulnerable. But with a single swipe of a line of black kohl, I feel ready and able to take on the world. It is amazing how much confidence that one little act instils in me. It can hide a multitude of flaws, detracting attention away from other less stellar areas. It boosts my ego, makes me walk taller, feel more intelligent and act more confidently. It truly is a miracle cure.
Another arsenal in my weaponry is my pair of spectacles – which definitely adds intelligence. Not only does it improve my vision, but also my hearing. Because without wearing my glasses, my hearing takes a knock. One is unaware how much you use sight in your verbal and listening skills. Because without the benefit of sight, one is unable to correctly interpret many things that are spoken. You lose out on body language, hand gestures and facial expression.
I think many of us wear a “mask”. Using things that we deem essential. We use them to cover up and to add a layer to our skin. They give us confidence and act as our emotional crutch – in a healthy way of course. A physical manifestation of an emotional need. And I don’t think we ever join the dots and see it for what it is. For my Grantie it’s his sunglasses and a cap in summer. For Luke it’s his cell phone always attached to his hand. For some it’s a cigarette. For other’s it’s a drink. Perhaps a “security blanket” so to speak. As well as a “comfort toy” if you like. Something you simply can’t do without. That you acutely miss and look for if separated from it.
I think there’s nothing wrong with this. If a little girl’s earrings give her the boost that she needs, that’s fantastic. If a little boy always has a little car, rugby ball or superhero toy in his hand, that’s also okay. Ladies have handbags and men cling on to car keys. Each to their own is all that I say.
And while some may wear physical “masks” in some form or another, others have other coping mechanisms of a different type in place. Perhaps an acerbic tongue and razor sharp comments. Loads of boisterous confidence. The telling of jokes, and an escape in humour. Bouts of self-pity. Even nastiness and being selfish and horrible to others can be a mask. Maybe deflecting attention away from the true crux of the matter. A smoke screen of sorts.
For me, I’m happy with my eyeliner. It symbolises feeling ready and confident to face the world. It’s harmless and cheap – a winner deal. And though a simple eyeliner may seem so small and silly to others, to me it is huge. I love you Charlie black eyeliner – with all of my heart. And I will never cheat on you with Revlon, Rimmel or any other makes. You make my world work. And I thank you for that.