Digital editor Tiffany Duong and Key West editor Mandy Miles wear a variety of surgical and homemade masks to do interviews and run errands around town. TIFFANY DUONG and MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

I have mask envy and perhaps a slight case of OCD when it comes to our latest facial fashion accessories.

I realize the disorder hasn’t made the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but everyone’s is better than mine. 

At any given moment, there are three handmade fabric masks, one stretchy buff and a pack of five disposables with the bendy, metal nose piece, all floating around in my purse.

I bought the disposable masks for our recent trip to see my folks in Ocean City at the South Jersey Shore, in case someone dared to come near me on an airplane with their mouth or nostrils visible. Fortunately, everyone complied easily with the rules and I wasn’t haughtily ejected from a flight for “going Jersey” on someone without a mask, as my friend, Rob, refers to my occasional enthusiastic outbursts.

Some of the masks irritate my ears. Some get sucked into my mouth when I breathe or speak. Others are too hot, too tight, not tight enough or just plain ugly.  I’ve even made my own modifications to a few masks, adding a piece of foam, cut from a bathing suit top, to the mask pocket some wonderful home seamstresses include in their protective creations. The contour of such foam keeps the mask out of my mouth, but also tends to muffle my voice, which is less than ideal; well, it is for me.  Interestingly, the muffled mask seems to be Stan’s — and my dad’s — favorite. Curiouser and curiouser. I don’t understand, as I speak with such restrained and refined elegance at all times. (Actually, those two would have preferred me to wear the muffled mask while inside our home and on our front porch all week, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Let me be clear: I wear a mask, all the time, indoors and out, as required. Please do the same and let’s start putting this nightmare behind us. Our parents, friends and neighbors are getting sick and dying. People are losing everything financially, medically, mentally.

Stop whining and wear a damn mask. And for God’s sake, don’t kill the messenger — literally.  The restaurant hostess who asks you to wear a mask when not seated at your table did not single-handedly enact a citywide mask requirement. Please stop screaming at her. This virus is transmitted by water droplets such as the ones coming out of your face when you’re screaming at her without a mask.

But I digress.

It is interesting to me how these things have become an instant fashion accessory — and how quickly we’ve turned protective gear into personal statements, status symbols and marketable merchandise.

I’ve tried several versions, but someone always has a better mask. One woman in Jersey sported one that looked to be made of neoprene wetsuit material. Even younger folks who are clearly “too cool” to protect themselves and others favor the simple black ninja-style masks that they like to wear ironically, as they do all things.

But at least they’re wearing them. I’ll continue to seek that perfect face covering for my own needs. But until I find it, I’ll make do with one of the dozen in my purse, muffled or not.

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