13. WEARING MASKS: Italian Biscotto

The custom of wearing face masks when a person has flu, or the like, is deeply rooted in the culture of some Asian countries. They do it mainly so as not to infect others. But in the West we are different. Many of those who wear face masks in the supermarket are only thinking about not becoming infected. They are Gattusos with shin guards.

The director general of China’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), George Gao, alerted Europe and the United States that people were not wearing their masks as often as they should. This is likely to change, with the supersonic speed changing almost everything related to the COVID-19, and they may soon be mandatory in some public spaces*.

Remember that, to combat this pandemic, it does not only matter that you do not get it. The ideal situation for everyone is that you do not infect or that become infected. It’s like making an agreement with fellow citizens. This biscotto, which is what the Italians call a fix, is convenient for all parties. Let’s cheat the virus, stay home when asked by the health authorities and do a deal like the famous biscotto of Sweden-Denmark in the 2004 Euro Cup. In that match, a draw would see both sides qualify from their groups with Italy eliminated. And so the 22 passive vikings spent the last minutes of the game passing the ball horizontally, like sisters of charity, so as not to infect or be infected with a goal. The funniest thing about that biscotto was using it against Italy, who had invented it. Biscotto — cookie in Italian — comes from when horse racing was rigged, giving cookies to horses before running.

Lastly, when you put on a mask, whatever it is, try to use it well. Don’t touch your face too much to adjust it. Wash it if it is washable. Remember that it is one more tool against the virus, but it is not the only nor the best. Even if you have Oblak, on some occasions you may also need Atlético de Madrid defenders, a 1-9-1 tactic, and Simeone screaming at you from the sidelines. Tactic 1-9-1 is to wash your hands frequently with soap, sneeze into your elbow or on a piece of paper that you then throw away, and keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from people when leaving home. Don’t get overconfident about wearing a mask. Masks, like Adidas World Cup boots, don’t play alone.