“When I look in your eyes.” – Bruce Springsteen
I used to own an old man mask that I wore for two or three Halloweens in a row. I loved that mask. I’d wear my jeans really high on my waist, hunch over, and use a golf putter as a cane. I would hobble to and from the neighbors’ houses to get my hands on some delicious candy. I will probably be that old man in 30 years. I still wear masks. I think we all do from time to time. Intentionally and sometimes unintentionally because we’ve been so accustomed to hiding things that it’s just a natural action or reaction now. Some of us wear masks more than others, but there are times when we’re all wearing masks.
(Above is me (right) and my friend Brent (left) wearing our old man masks. That’s my little sis in the Pink Panther mask)
Ever had someone ask you how you were doing and you replied great though you were having a terrible morning? Mask. Ever acted like you had it all together but inside you felt like a crumbling old building? Mask. Ever been at church praising the Lord so others wouldn’t see you agonizing over what you did last night? Mask. Fighting with your spouse, but you’re all smiles and laughs around relatives and friends? It’s hard to go through life without wearing one. We don’t want to burden other people we tell ourselves. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves or our friends or loved ones. Our ego just can’t take the hit.
“I’m just a lonely pilgrim. I walk this world in wealth. I want to know if it’s you I don’t trust. ‘Cause I damn sure don’t trust myself”
We love to wear masks. Some of us literally and some of us figuratively and some of us love it all. Sometimes we wear masks to get what we want, to manipulate others. Our masks can portray anything and everything. They hide us from things like pain and sorrow, fear, and even happiness.
Masks can put a hold on reality for us. We’ll use them to transport to a different world and time. Many times it’s just fun to be someone or something else for a few hours. I’m guessing that we will see plenty of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton masks this October. I’m actually tempted to purchase one this year just so I can walk around all day saying “China.” My wife has plans though, and wants us to all dress up representing Star Trek. Maybe I can combine the two and be Captain Trump… “Ensign, plan a course. Warp 4 to China!”
Masks represent fear as well. Sometimes we’re hiding from the fear and other times we’re representing fear. If you grew up in the 80’s then you know what mask I’m talking about… Jason Voorhees! “Friday the 13th” was one of the first horror movies I ever saw, and Jason scared the bejesus out of me. He and Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger are what we had in the 80’s when it came to dudes walking around slashing unsuspecting college and high school kids. By the way, I laughed hard when someone showed me this picture recently.
I still love wearing masks. I wore a Batman suit to work a few Halloweens ago, and I have a Darth Vader voice-changing mask hanging up in my garage right now. I used that last Halloween to be the famous country music sith lord Darth Brooks. I just want you to know that Darth Brooks has friends in very low places. I also adjusted my costume slightly for work the same day and went as advertising executive Darth Draper (instead of “Mad Men” character Don Draper). Come on someone – that’s funny!
I’m forty now – I’m a man! I’m actually 45, but I still love to dress up and I still wear masks. We all do.
(Left is “Darth Brooks” 2015 (check out the belt buckle, and to the right Darth Vader with a pubescent white boy ‘fro circa sometime around 1978 or 79)
In what could be the most boring video of the 80’s (sorry Boss), we have Bruce sitting in the kitchen, acoustic guitar in hand while the camera conducts a slow zoom into Bruce’s face while he stares deep into your soul. Ok, maybe he’s not staring into your soul. But then again maybe he is. Is it an exciting video you want to watch over and over? No. Does the video feel a little awkward and highly personal? Perhaps. Maybe the people of the world that really dig Bruce just enjoy staring at him for four minutes and 13 seconds. I’m not really sure, but I do know that I am a big fan of this song. It’s a lyrical masterpiece on masks that peaked at number five off of his “Tunnel of Love” album released in 1987.
“So when you look at me, you better look hard and look twice. Is that me baby or just a brilliant disguise?”
Thanks for your time.