The Mask Avenger (#284)

Like a lot of Chinese-Americans, my husband isn’t into fanfare. He doesn’t make a big deal out of the delicious meals he cooks. He presents me with seedlings for my garden that I had no idea were germinating in his greenhouse.

I only found out about a huge bonus he got from work when I found it on our checking account.

Compared to all the mediocre white males who constantly tout their non-accomplishments (see the Trump Administration for hundreds of examples), Andy’s reticence seems like an excellent characteristic.

Alas. Information hoarding has a dark side.

Last year, black duffle bag appeared in the back of my car. I figured it was Andy’s gym clothes, since some mornings he goes to the gym before work. Since I needed to load over 100 pounds of dog, I took the duffle bag out and left it in the garage.

It reappeared in the car a few days later.

I took it out again.

The Dance of the Black Duffle went on until my husband finally said, “The earthquake kit does you no good unless you actually leave it in the car!”

I said, “What are you—is THAT what’s in the damned duffle bag?!”

“Yes! There’s a flashlight, duct tape, a utility knife—”

“That sounds more like an abduction kit than an earthquake kit! Why didn’t you label it or tell me?”

“Why didn’t you look in it?”

“It looks like a gym bag, I thought it just had your dirty clothes in it or something. Why wouldn’t you just tell me, ‘Hey, I put an earthquake kit in your car?’”

“I did!”


“I know I did.”

“If you had, I would have known what it was. And you do this all the time. YOU think mouths are only for eating. I think they’re useful for communication.”

Andy could only laugh because he knew I spoke truth.


Due to COVID-19, the County of Los Angeles recently decreed that everyone would need a face covering when going out into the community.

I told Andy that my friend JM was working on masks for us all.

He said, “There are masks in your earthquake kit in your car.” (“Dumbass” was implied but not spoken aloud.)

“There are?!”

“Of course! Because of the Woolsey Fire and the Camp Fire!”

“Good job. Thanks, honey.”

I finally checked out the black duffle. The kit contained 3 liters of water, 6 granola bars, a flashlight, batteries, a cellphone battery—and an unopened pack of 3M N95 masks.

I went flying back to the husband and said, “You didn’t tell me we had N95 masks! Is that what you’ve been using when you go out?!”


“And you have the same kit with two unused N95 masks in your car?!”


“Oh. my. God. Those things are like gold. Healthcare workers like our Nurse Friend and Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister haven’t been able to get them and desperately need them and we’ve had them sitting in OUR CARS?! I am totally sending them to Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister!”


“You can keep your used one, Mr. Asthma, but JM is making masks and that’s good enough for me and Baby D. Healthcare workers need those N95s, they don’t need private citizens stockpiling them!”

A few days later, I shared this “clueless husband” story with a Soccer Dad friend. Soccer Dad, shamefaced, admitted that he also had unused N95 masks—over a dozen from the previous year, leftovers from a mold removal project.

My friend JM made Soccer Dad a cloth mask, too. Within days, the N95s had gone to a NICU nurse and my grateful Nurse Friend.

Where they belonged.

Fellow Californians, check your kits! If you’ve got N95s and are not immunosuppressed, think about donating them to healthcare/ essential workers and getting a stylish cloth mask instead.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

17 thoughts on “The Mask Avenger (#284)”

  1. The duffle bag sounds like evidence Keith Morrison would discuss on an episode of “Dateline”! Are we SURE this is an earthquake kit and not something more nefarious?!

            1. But…why? Unless you are trying to plan the perfect murder. I mean, my son and I love watching “Air Disasters,” but we’re also storing up info in case an engine catches fire on our flight.

  2. Funny story! I have a non-communicator too. If he needs something, he won’t ask if we have it, he’ll go buy another. Consequently last summer we ended up with 6 gallons of vinegar. *bangs head on table* We use it for a lot of stuff but 6 gallons is a lot! Glad you were able to do the right thing!

    1. Andy wanders all over the house looking for something until I finally ask him what he’s looking for and then I tell him exactly where it is and ask, “Why don’t you just ask me?!” All.The.Time.

  3. My husband talked a lot and told stories, but when it was something about him, he didn’t explain himself well or he didn’t tell me. It was as though, if I cared, I would be able to figure it out. After I started studying Chinese, I thought I understood. The Chinese language seems to expect more of the listener and less of the speaker. The listener should be able to interpret what he’s hearing. We expect speakers or writers of English to express themselves precisely. Anyway, that’s my theory.

    1. With Andy, I think it’s probably that his parents simply didn’t listen, or they spoke mostly to criticize, so he has this, “I’ll be damned if I’m gonna ask for anything” attitude.

    1. Not my mask. Mine is kinda boring. I like yours, actually. Very bold. I guess now is the time to do a selfie for those of us with secret identities! I just haven’t been anywhere that requires one.

  4. We have no masks. We aren’t being forced to wear them and we’re not going anywhere so all is good. But I do wonder if I’ll be able to look as good as you do when I am finally out and about in polite society. Your whale motif is delightful.

    1. Isn’t it cute? It’s actually not me, it’s a crafty woman who makes masks in upstate New York. She’s got great patterns and said I could post that picture (she’s not taking orders right now, but if she is again, I’ll put up a link).

      My mask is pretty plain. Since I don’t go out except to walk the dog (early, mostly, with no one around), I don’t wear it often and keep forgetting now is the time to do a selfie and remain anonymous!

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