Columbia’s mask mandate ends on March 14. What will we find underneath the N-95s and surgical masks?

During the current school year, the discovery of someone’s mouth has been a quiet thrill—like a G-rated peep show in the middle of “Principles of Economics”. Watching a person who you’ve known for months uncover their mouth, and in the seconds between them removing the KN95 and taking a sip of water, thinking…

Where did THAT come from?

Since reentering campus life (and returning to our masks), we’ve been forced to fill in the gaps. When all you see is someone’s eyes, it’s natural to have educated guesses about what kind of nose, mouth, and chin are hiding beneath the cloth. You probably don’t even register this kind of mental mouth math until your English professor pulls down his mask, and you just think…


It was the biggest mouth I’d ever seen. My professor was around 5’6”, nothing about him—except for his love for [Author Redacted]—is huge. Except, as I learned on that fateful day in October, his mouth. I never got used to it. Every time he would pull his mask down, I would be thrown for a total loop. Every time he pulled his cloth mask back up, I would forget the whole thing had happened, and I returned to my maladaptive daydream of his proportional mouth until the next class.

Other times, your computer engineering professor will take off her mask, and all you can think is…


With her eyes peeking out over the top of her black surgical mask, she looked pretty yet plain on Tuesdays and Thursdays, explaining assembly language to those of us who bothered to show up. But in the moments that she removed her mask to take sips from her latte from Joe’s, she revealed full, pink lips and a perfect nose. It was like the moment in the rom-com where the smart girl takes her glasses off and reveals how beautiful she’s been the whole time, but if the smart girl then put her glasses back on and then told you more about microprocessors.

Multiply these two instances (usually the former) by 10,000 undergrads, and I can’t even describe the whiplash that I will experience on March 14. The substitution of 10,000 noses and mouths I’ve been imagining since September with the real thing that’s been hiding underneath all along—I’ll consider it a miracle if my head doesn’t explode by noon.

My Greatest Fear via Piqsels