At Philly's Naked Bike Ride, You Won't Need a Shirt, Pants or Underpants. Just a Mask.

I try my damnedest not to start thoughts with "In this post-Covid time ..." In the way a year ago I was trying not to say, "In these difficult times ..." because more often than not those words were being used as the start of a pitch to get you buy SUVs. And I had hoped we'd do better in the next panic. 

Besides, for a significant numer of us, this particular world is not at all post-Covid. All the restrictions have been lifted, but that doesn't mean everyone's gone back to their old life. Over the weekend, I was driving down a suburban street that was completely empty except for one middle aged woman out for a walk. In a mask. At my local Trader Joe's, if there were 50 people in the place, I was one of about three not sporting one. But at my gym, there are 100 people on any given day and no one's wearing one. I don't know what that says about the habits of the people who spread Cookie Butter on everything vs. the ones who spend time on the elliptical, but it's our reality right now as we adjust. 

And with that, I'm going to try not to judge. I'll do my best to give you the benefit of the doubt. And if you're protecting yourself outdoors on a gorgeous June day with no one around you for miles around, I'll assume you've got a very valid reason that is none of my business. Which is to say, I will judge you. I'll judge the hell out of you. But I'll skate my lane and let you live your life. The door of personal liberty swings both ways. My freedom to not wear a face diaper equals your freedom to wrap your whole body in them like the inevitable Maskhole costume that's going to be seen at every party this Halloween. 

But just because I want to stick to a consistent, small 'l" libertarian view on all this, doesn't mean we're all suddenly making sense:

AP -  Philadelphia bike riders won’t need their shirts, pants, skirts or even underwear — just a mask.

Organizers of the annual Philly Naked Bike Ride say this year’s event will take place Aug. 28 and will require masks, based on the city’s earlier coronavirus restrictions.

The city lifted most of its COVID-19 rules this week, citing an increase in vaccinations and a decrease in cases. But ride organizers said they hadn’t had a chance to chat since the city’s guidelines changed so for the time being, they’re “going to stick with our initial mask guidance.” ...

Ride participants, sometimes in the thousands, usually gather in a park to strip off their clothes and paint each other’s bodies before carefully hopping on their bikes. The naked ride is to promote positive body image, advocate for the safety of cyclists and protest dependence on fossil fuels.

Riders pedal a 10-mile (16-kilometer) course while taking in sights including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps, featured in the “Rocky” movies.

OK then. You can expose the world to every orifice on your body. Except two. Your butthole emitting putrid blasts of methane gas? Safe. Your vag rubbing all over your bike seat? Safe. Your wang flapping back and forth across the front of your seat like a jockey's riding crop slapping a thoroughbred to victory? Safe. Armpits, scrotums and breasts? Safe, safer, safest. But your nose and mouth? Deadly. Breathing freely outdoors in a population of healthy people, the vast majority of whom have gotten their shots? You're committing a genocide right in the hallowed ground where America was born and Balboa came to believe he could go the distance against Apollo, mister. 

So here's going to be my standard going forward on all remaining restrictions like this. I'm going to apply this to all situations, be open minded, listen and try to learn. And that standard will simply be four words:

Explain this to me. 

That's it. I won't complain about hordes of people riding bikes through a major city and not being required to cover up any part of their bodies except their air holes, just as long as you can make sense of it to me. Tell me about the science. Show your work. Walk me through how you reached these conclusions. Enlighten me as to how you formed this policy and what alternatives you considered. I don't need bar graphs and spreadsheets of data. Just give me your elevator pitch. In layman's terms. I'll listen with both ears. 

So far this has gotten me nowhere. In fact, it's pretty much a conversation killer. When friends are explaining some bizzarro policy their bosses adopted like no fans in the rooms and the drinking fountains still shut down, I ask if they can explain it, and they just go palms up, "Beats me." Ask why some restaurants still don't have condiments on the table, stores still have dozens of unused parking spaces for a curbside grocery pickup service uses or why we still are trying to make "contactless" a thing given we know you don't get the cooties from surfaces, and no one has an answer. 

But when you've got hundreds of bike riders hanging brain and going Swing Low, Sweet Chariots through an urban area but will be forced to wear masks months after no one has to wear masks? There's no way anyone can explain it to me, but I've got to hear them try. Preferably in writing. The last thing I want to do is be in Philly for the Naked Bike Ride.