Ninety-nine percent my ass. But before I go there, let me rewind.

In Japan, a nation where it’s embarrassing to do anything, it’s perfectly acceptable to walk around wearing a surgical mask like you’re Dr. Giggles. There’s an obscure reference. In winter, in the spring, and any other time people are likely to get sick or have “hay fever”, which is rampant, these masks are a common sighting. I would estimate that right now, where one in ten people have caught the new flu strain, roughly one in four people sport the mask. But unlike the mask from the movie and comics, The Mask, which let its wearer do anything, today’s mask in question lets you do only one thing: suffer horribly. Let’s go out on a limb and say, hypothetically, that you’re an English teacher. The big guys upstairs decree that all teachers, even those outcast English rogues, must wear face masks, even while teaching, among other things, phonics and pronunciation. Well that’s no good. When teaching how to say “V-V-Violin”, it’s absolutely vital that those students see you chomping down on your bottom lip and then flinging it away from your teeth like a discarded Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet. Not to mention the teacher’s subsequent smile, the only reward for a V well uttered (not counting the acquired ability to wield the “V”, which is in itself the true reward. But with a masked teacher, good luck attaining that). A children’s teacher of phonics who reveals no mouth-shape and can’t smile. You might as well just hand the kids a corpse.

The other thing is that wearing a mask over your mouth and nose has the irritating side effect of clouding up your glasses every time you exhale, which is half the goddamn time. The other half, you’re still recoiling from the last exhale. Don’t wear glasses, you say? Hey, that’s awesome. But you still gotta worry about the dreaded dry-eye if you’re a contact wearer since you’ll constantly be blowing on them by exhaling, not to mention envy-fueled homicide if you have naturally good vision. The main problem if you’re a glasses wearer like me, though, is that you won’t be able to see oncoming obstacles when you’re mobile. This may result in injury or death, though a good mask is said to be ninety-nine percent effective in stopping filthy flu germs from wafting their way into your craw, so at least there’s that. But imagine being the guy in that one percent margin who wears the mask, still catches the flu, and gets hit by a car. These are evil days, masked friend.

Enter the cloud-free face mask. In an effort to bring these overcast times to an end once and for all, someone invented a mask which claims to stop ninety-nine percent of all glasses fog. Surely they jest. What black magic?

In reality, what they’ve done is stuck a piece of styrofoam at the top which pinches your nose bridge, in theory stopping the flow of carbon dioxide to your eyeballs. Does it work? No! In fact, I had better luck using one of those cheapo masks I found in the gutter. Maybe it’s just too hard to make a product that meets the needs of every nose. Consider it further evidence that there’s no such thing as “one size fits all”. If there was shopping at the erotic boutique would be a lot less hassle, not to mention finding a skeleton costume that doesn’t make all your forehead veins bulge every time you try to sit Indian-style, which, by the way, is often.

So what do you do when you’ve wasted money on a lousy product? You flail your limbs wildly, desperately groping to salvage whatever threadlike ounce of happiness remains to be salvaged. Surely this is why people who once bought every Smashmouth album now throw 90s parties. “Come enjoy the irony at my place and help me live down the atrocities of my life, dudes and dudettes! It’ll be da bomb! There’ll be a cooler full of Zimas and a ‘Reality Bites’ screening!”

Following suit, I’m trying to make the most of this mask fiasco (fi-mask-o, if I may be so bold!) by writing this review, which brings joy and amusement to me in a way that is sure to seem twisted to gawking onlookers.

“What’re you up to, Greg, that’s got you hammering away at those keys like there’s-a no tomorrow?” they ask.

“I’m writing a review of a face mask that claims to stop eyeglass fogging up to ninety-nine percent.”

“Gee, that must be some dandy face mask!”

“It isn’t dandy.” This is followed by a dead gaze.

Although I’d be lying if I said the no-cloud mask was all tears. The fact is that it probably saved me from the deathly plague that’s brought the rest of this town to its knees. Somehow I survived a recent Saturday after spending no fewer than five hours with an escaped quarantine subject, gallivanting through stuffy automobiles, filthy arcade centers, and cramped movie theaters without a care in the world as my friend sweltered and hallucinated right beside me. Granted I couldn’t see him and thought everything was fine.

Score: Two fogged-up lenses out of two.

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