I couldn’t tell what caused it initially, but everyone was sexier when I came back to campus after an endless summer of quarantine. Certainly some of this was attributed to my pent-up isolation lust, but there was an added x-factor that really churned my butter. Never before have I thought such a vast number of people were attractive as I twiddled my thumbs, six-feet-apart, in the arrival test line. That is, until I recollected my childhood crushes: Zorro, the Phantom of the Opera, Mrs. Incredible, and Hannibal Lecter. All of them wore masks.
There is something hauntingly erotic about concealing your maw. It accentuates the slenderness of the nose and contour of the eyes. It’s this sense of anonymity and mystique in which I can gaze upon the passerby and imprint my fantasies upon their features. All of my mundane activities have molded into a masquerade ball in which everyone is invited. Though picking up a snack from 7-Eleven may not be the bacchanalian orgy-fest of Eyes Wide Shut, I still imagine all the other incognito shoppers as part of my masked sex cult. The costumes may be surgical respirators and face shields, but the sentiment still stands. I can be the host of this grand masquerade ball: Grocery shopping in a bandana like I’m robbing Wegmans, a wild west outlaw.
Over the past few months our social etiquette on face coverings changed to keep us safe, and that change ushered in a new element of nudity. I feel vulnerable and naked in the open air without a mask. If my nose hangs over the fabric, it is as if my penis is flopped over the waistband of my panties. If I slide my mask down to suck through a straw, I am struck by the sensation of pulling my pants down for a quick public piss. It is like showing up to the masquerade without a mask. At least this provides for a subtle yet salacious taboo—an intimacy with those I reveal my cakehole to, such as my biweekly corona test when I expose myself to the tester. After they hand me the cotton swab through the glass, I tear off my veil and expose my bare muzzle as we both sustain eye contact. No matter how much I do it, it feels like the first time: The arrival test. Imprinted in my memory is the nurse peeling away my disguise with cold latex fingers, sliding her probe into my orifice. It penetrated deep into my nasal cavity until I tilted my head back in passionate discomfort, a single tear sliding down my cheek. She scraped my sinuses, but also scraped my heart.
When I first heard health experts were urging masks during sex, the idea sounded preposterous. It seemed you might as well not have sex if you’d miss out on all lip licking and mouth mauling. I was very wrong. Masks add a certain novelty to rolling around in the hay with endless roleplay possibilities. Who needs kissing when you can be two Spidermen, spanking each other on a duvet cover? Or apocalypse survivors humping to repopulate the dying Earth? There are a variety of frisky fetish masks, or you can make your own by sewing CDC-approved ones to match your whips and chains. Viruses would have quite the challenge trying to escape the leather restraining your mouth to the bedpost.
Long before Covid-19, people employed masks to dominate and restrain in the boom boom room. You can enhance the BDSM qualities of your mask by wearing ones more difficult to breath in, such as masks made of leather or latex. Choking on latex continues to be one of the prime duties of a gimp suit, especially if the mouth and eye holes are zipped closed until you are a helpless little worm. For the four-eyed nerds out there, medical masks contain the same sensory deprivation as a gimp suit when you step inside and are blindfolded by the steaminess. Pair this with some noise cancelling headphones and you’re practically the Gimp Man of Essex. You can now suffocate on your daily trudge up Libe Slope, imagining the world softly dominating you with breath play.
“Use protection” no longer applies solely to the jolly rancher wrapper around your schlong. Protection has extended to the sexy suit of armor upon your kisser. Don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Embrace the masquerade.
Anya Neeze is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Boink! runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.