A Letter from Guiness Pig

A Letter from Guiness Pig

Dear reader,

Two months ago, I took a trip back to my hometown for a day at the beach and a picnic with a small group of family members.  Had that been the extent of it, I would not be writing this letter to you now. But a day at the beach meant stopping by a drugstore to buy sunscreen and snacks. It also meant an occasional trip to the public restrooms while on the beachfront. The drive home required fueling up at a gas station and a quick trip inside to pick up a few things for the road.

The town where I grew up is very conservative so it didn’t come as a surprise that I got harassed each time I set foot indoors in an N95. I was questioned, coughed at, cussed at, laughed at, and in one situation, an individual stepped toward me and raised their arms while screaming in my face. It was the first time I had encountered physical aggression over masking.  I couldn’t get home soon enough.

Shortly after returning from my trip, I ventured into a store in my neighborhood and was swiftly shouted at by an angry man.  “Get out of here with that shit!” He yelled at me.  By shit, I can only assume he meant my N95, as he proceeded to mutter something under his breath about Covid being over. I turned to face him and was shocked to find that he was wearing an employee badge.  The word ‘Manager’ was displayed in smaller lettering underneath his name. How quickly the tolerance for masking has dissolved even here in my current community - a progressive, overwhelmingly left-leaning college town.

This marked a turning point for me in the pandemic. I realized the deeper we drift into denial as a society, the more stressful and less safe it will become for those of us who continue masking and other precautions. Sadly, it isn’t just our peers who have turned on us, all juiced up with rage and ready to jump our asses for simply trying to protect ourselves and each other. The very entities who are supposed to be our leaders and examplars - whether it’s the CDC or Rodney, the Manager at Dollar General - have damn near villainized us in their quest for a return to a pre-pandemic normal. The removal of pandemic protections and the 'time to move on' messaging has empowered bullies everywhere to kick us in the nuts as punishment for wearing masks.  

And it fucking sucks.

I was pissed and needed to do something with all that anger, so I punched back the best way I know how - with snark and the written word. I took to Twitter (when it was still named Twitter) and posted the comeback I wish I’d been able to spout off at all the maskholes I’d just encountered:

Stranger: “Covid is over.”

Me: “So I’ve heard.”

Stranger: “So why you wearing a mask?”

Me: “Tuberculosis.”

Stranger: (Long pause, steps back) “Well you shouldn’t be in public exposing others.”

Me: “My mask protects you. Besides, tuberculosis is only a Biosafety Level-3 airborne pathogen, just like Covid.”

Stranger: (Blank stare)

I never anticipated it would go viral, but I’m so glad it did. It showed me there are more of you than I ever could have imagined who are still masking, still refusing to surrender to mass infection/reinfection, and still carrying on with your lives as safely as you can, despite the pressure to give up and conform.  Most importantly, you're still able to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Your sense of humor remains intact and that’s a more important asset than you might realize.

Laughter causes physiological changes in your body. A good, hearty laugh can slow down or halt the production of cortisol.  It can trigger the production of dopamine and increase endorphins, which not only make you feel good, but can relieve pain and enhance your immune response.  Laughter is good for your cardiovascular system. It boosts your intake of oxygen and increases blood flow. Laughter burns calories.

Let me say that again: LAUGHTER BURNS CALORIES. How damn cool is that? Especially when gyms aren’t exactly safe anymore.  Considering how hard we're working to preserve our health, we shouldn't overlook how powerfully our bodies and minds respond to yukking it up.  We should be doing it more often.

There’s a whole lot of shit I’m no good at, and I could fill up the internet with a list of all the talents and attributes I lack.  The two things I *can* do well?  I can write and I can make people laugh. So I’ve continued kicking out #MaskholeClapbacks tweets (and yes, I’ve actually been using some of them when I venture out in public, with hilarious results most of the time). Your reactions and comments have kept me laughing as well so I’ll keep on posting until I either run out of inspiration or until X/fka Twitter collapses (which, let's face it, is a possibility). I’d hate to lose this awesome little community that we’ve all built over these past couple of months, so I’ve set up this site to archive and continue creating #MaskholeClapbacks to share with everyone who enjoys them. I’ve published 50 of your favorites as #MaskholeClapbacks Volume 1, and will publish future volumes here, 50 at a time.

The free subscription option will get you access to current and future #MaskholeClapbacks outside of X/fka Twitter.

The premium subscription will give you access and the ability to comment on more written content aside from #MaskholeClapbacks. I’ve been journaling lately so I have more humorous content to share with you in the form of personal stories and reflections on living through this dystopian shitshow.

Most importantly, I have a bigger vision for us.  Like many of you, my family and I have been pretty isolated throughout this pandemic and have lost relationships over our choices to continue our precautions. We all need social connection that is safe, both physically and psychologically. So for premium subscribers, I will include invites to virtual events like movie watch parties, game nights, and live comedy shows. I’d like to use this platform as a way to bring us together for laughs, support, and respite from the world outside our front doors. Those fuckers out there beat us up every time we step outside. It gets old. We might be scattered across the globe but we’re not alone and we need each other now more than ever.  I’m committed to helping us find ways to connect with each other.

Some of you have reached out to me asking for #MaskholeClapbacks to be turned into videos or a book. My main focus is getting The Guiness Pig Diaries up and running for now, but I’ll be looking into doing more with the #MaskholeClapbacks in the coming days.  If you are an artist, comedian, content creator, or have some other skills for developing different types of content, feel free to message me if you have ideas or advice to share.

Lastly, I want to thank you for being here, for reading this letter, for following me on X/fkaTwitter, for sharing how #MaskholeClapbacks have made you laugh, and especially for being a fellow dissident among the back-to-normals.  

You’re on the right side.

Guiness Pig