Shopping online this week for even more novelty face masks (it is my modest ambition to have at least as many masks as Imelda Marcos had pairs of shoes) my mind flew to the Prime Minister and the criticisms he attracts for wearing an Aussie flag face mask.
Some commentators accuse that his choice of mask is his jingoistically artful use of his masked prime ministerial face as a kind of political corflute advertising his faked true blue, daggy dad dinky-di patriotism.
If I hesitate to join in this unpleasantness it is not only because I am too nice a person to be so unkind (isn't it possible our dear leader is with his flag mask only seeking to add some jingo-colour to our drab lives?) but also in this case because I have myself come very close to buying and wearing an Aussie flag face mask.
And my overall view, driving my mask shopping, is that there is an underlying tragedy about our having to do our civic duty and hide our true faces but that, since we must do it, there may as well be some novelty, perhaps some expression of our personalities and beliefs in the masks we wear.
This very morning (this column is being polished to a dazzling sheen on Wednesday of this week) on my cautious excursion to the shops I wore a mask decorated with 18 Australian magpies each one going about its engagingly busy black and white business. This mask says of its wearer that Australia's native fauna is dear to my heart, and so it is in a sense like the Prime Minister's flag a patriotic mask, albeit one expressing patriotism in a more nuanced and less clodhopping way than the Prime Minister's flag mask achieves.
And if I haven't strayed in the Aussie flag direction while mask shopping this week it was because, combining my droplet-intercepting social obligations with my love of poetry, I was distracted by the sheer range of poetry-themed masks on sale.
The mysterious Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is America's favourite poet, and mine too. Unsurprisingly, because so many of her exquisitely wise poems are tiny and fit so well so well on a mask's confined space, there is a superabundance of Emily Dickinson masks for sale.
Her famous verse 'Hope' is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune without the words/And never stops - at all - is understandably popular with the mask-makers (they offer it in versions galore) because of course these terrifying viral times that are making face masks essential are circumstances that require us to look for Hope with a capital H wherever we can find it, hoping it will arrive in our lives (as Emily says it surely does) like a divine bird alighting next to us on a branch.
And of course those of us who like to wear arty masks like these are advertising something about ourselves, our allegiances, our fandoms, perhaps using our masks in the way we have traditionally used bumper stickers on our cars or worn our footy teams' scarves and beanies. Should our Prime Minister ever sport a Cronulla footy mask (and there are masks of every NRL side on sale online, $19.95 each) I will be quick to support him just as, I'm sure, he will be quick to support my wearing of my Emily Dickson masks even though, since he is a total arts philistine, he will never have heard of her.
Masks are essential for now, but surely most of us hanker in our hearts for a return to facial nakedness. And perhaps a positive outcome of all this maskedness will be a new appreciation of the face.
In a brand new piece titled What Masks Signify for the online American Scholar, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow compares and contrasts sociologists' findings about the pretend ''masks'' we all put on so as to fit in with others with the real masks we are wearing now.
"Just as we've been compelled [in these viral times] to wear literal masks," she muses "we might consider the preciousness of literal faces."
"We might marvel at the way the subtlest differences in the angle of an eyebrow - or the curve of a lip, the flare of a nostril, the set of a jaw - can convey utterly distinct emotions."
Yes, speed the day when the true and precious face is able to come out from behind these temporarily entertaining but frivolous and humanness-denying camouflages of flags and magpies and poems.