I received an interesting dare last week from a theater enthusiast. “I dare you to go to the Hope Street Farmers Market and first wear a happy mask and a then sad mask and see if people’s reactions are different.”
I liked the idea, especially because those are my two favorite things — playing dress-up and farmers markets. However, I didn’t want to invest in the proper mask, so I searched through my costume collection, which is essentially my entire wardrobe. The closest thing I could come to a happy mask was one I found in a RISD dumpster last Halloween. It was a giant Monica Lewinsky face mask with a shit eating grin, punctured teeth marks on the left side of her face, and a faint smell of pee. I remembered soaking that thing in bleach right after I got it, but the smell just wouldn’t go away. But, it’s priceless! I knew it would serve me well in the future for top secret assignments like these. As for a sad mask, I didn’t have one. But, I did have a full Playboy bunny get-up with the ears, tail, whiskers and pink body suit. Why not wear it with a frown? Genius.
I hopped on over to the farmers market, slid the Monica mask on and perused the different vendors. People giggled, pointed and smiled, and everyone seemed to be in a jolly mood. It’s summer time in Rhode Island, why wouldn’t they be happy? No one approached me, so I decided to take it upon myself to start some dialogue. I approached a woman in her late 20s and introduced myself. “Hey. My name is Yosefa. I have never been to this farmers market before. Are there any vendors you recommend here? I was looking for some good kale and …”
She looked at me, very confused, and said with her hands on her hips in a demanding voice, “What is kale? I like the cupcakes. And, who are you supposed to be and why are you wearing a mask?”
“Oh! Kale is a vegetable,” I laughed. So many questions. “My mask is Monica Lewinsky. I couldn’t find my hat and I just hate the sun beating down on…” She interrupted again.
“Who is Mara Kinsey?”
“No, no. MONICA LEWINSKY,” I corrected.
“WHO?” she asked even louder.
I lifted the mask so she could hear me better and said, “MONICA LEWINSKY. You know? The woman who…” and then I stopped myself because my eyes had adjusted to the light and I realized she was wearing a Justin Bieber t-shirt. “How old are you?” I asked.
“Twelve,” she said. She pointed right behind me. “I am on a summer camp trip.” I turned around and no less than 10 feet away was a swarm of prepubescents eating overly priced gourmet cupcakes. You know, the ones that look SO good, but you can never rationalize spending 5 dollars on a cupcake. Now, keep in mind the eye holes on Monica’s face were extremely small, my vision was horrible because I couldn’t fit my glasses inside of Monica’s head, and I had ZERO peripheral vision. But, seriously, besides the shirt, this girl did NOT look 12 years old. It’s the hormones in the meat.
But anyway, I apologized and she said, “Nah, it’s cool. I heard that name before. One time my dad told my mom he wished she would be more like her. Who is she anyway?”
Before I had the chance to make up an excuse that I was coming down with the flu or chickenpox, her camp counselor came up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Hey Monica,” he winked. “Jessica, we gotta go. It’s singing circle time.”
“Well!” I rejoiced with relief, with Monica still on my head. “It’s been great meeting you two!” I turned around to walk away, but because I couldn’t see around my feet, I tripped and fell on a box of maracas that the counselor put on the ground. I screamed so loud that I scared myself and knew my ankle was either broken or sprained. The counselor ran over to the meat vendor, got me a bag of ice and asked if I wanted to join in their singing circle until I could walk again. I declined and decided to sit against a tree in the farmers market with my bunny ears on, ice my ankle, and just see what happened next.
Ten minutes passed and nothing happened except my ankle started to swell even more. Thirty minutes. An hour. Finally, a vendor approached me and asked if I was ok. “I hurt my ankle really badly, but I had a assignment to finish and I am waiting to…”
He stopped me. “I know, I saw everything.” He smiled and handed me a cupcake even though he was selling vegetables. “Maybe this will make you feel better, Monica.”
So, lessons learned: happy or sad, an overly priced cupcake is totally worth it and make sure you invest in some contacts if you plan on wearing a mask for Halloween or any other top secret assignment.