Gloves in the Time of Corona - The Gloss Magazine

Gloves in the Time of Corona

88 miles deep in the delta, a Singaporean ship captain steps aside. He hands over the helm he’s steered across an ocean to a Louisiana local who guides this cargo of goods through killer currents, up the muddy Mississippi, an economic engine whose power predates the colonies. In their mission to enhance efficient commerce on Old Man River, these manliest men are of the maritime variety. And as members of a secretive society, control the mouth of the mighty waterway, that day after day, snakes through The States like a big brown cobra. The New Orleans Baton Rouge Association of Steamship Pilots do this under the eyebrow-raising acronym of N.O. B.R.A.  

In the Horn of Africa, it seems a hard-line sect deems well-built Somalian women are guilty, at gunpoint. Condemning for carrying a concealed weapon under their proscribed niqab, which, as you know, is a tent covering these ladies from head to toe, leaving only a slit for the eyelashes. Still it’s a garment that gets them leers, from jeering jihadis, and threats of thrashes. Upper decks that don’t joggle, aren’t pendulous when ogled, are a penal crime, because Al-Shabaab has banned the push-up bra’s perky cups. 

Suppose we say, women have a love/hate relationship with bras. It’s an undergarment devised, not by chance, to enhance our most salient secondary sex characteristic. But 60s feminism was all about burning bras, in a fierce demonstration against a capitalist patriarchy accused of objectifying women, via an apparatus viewed as an intimate torture, at their own expense. Those staunch principles were sold down the river in the Eighties, when girls raced to grace their haunches in peek-a-boo panties from La Perla or Agent Provocateur. The manufacture of this fetishised object has a broad history, and in terms of construction, technically requires an astonishing number of up to 48 separate components, pre-assembly. 

The sun also rises on a new generation of Japanese women, who braving a potentially grave N95 respirator mask shortage later, have elected to parse an arsenal of old lace, and bisect their bras. The twinning task multiplies a single bra into something twice as nice. A double date to isolate in matching masks might just be catching.  

In medieval times, the word for mask meant the nightmarish rule of mockery, buffoonery and ridicule. Having served as a symbolic device in ceremonies for millenniums, it remains real gear for hunting, sports and war, if one is inclined to differentiate between the three. The oldest masks are 9000-year-old assemblages of leather and wood found in France and Jerusalem. These fragile examples are reinforced by dozens of Paleolithic paintings preserved on cave walls, which permit us to peer in to a distant past peopled by men in masks.  

Over time, the Greek bacchanalian guise played its part too, in Japanese Noh drama and the Venetian carnival. Masks found their way to Jewish Purim festivities and healing the sick in Iroquois and Inuit rituals, with magic made from driftwood, animal skin, bone, fur and feathers. Where would Halloween, or Mexico’s Day of the Dead be, if people in every place hadn’t played hide’n seek, behind the protective pretense of a false face. Egyptian and Pre-Columbian cultures hammered masks out of silver and gold. So did Indo-European tribes in the Balkans and Bulgaria. Not to be outdone, Korean warhorses wore them, and to drive away evil spirits, their riders buried the dead in masks of jade. 

Occupational hazards demand we disguise our eyes, and masks have been adapted for team players throughout history, from gladiators, samurai and modern gas masked warriors, to welders and vigilantes like the Ku Klux Klan. Skiers, scuba divers, fencers, footballers, ice hockey goalies and the iconic Irish hurler, you name it. Everyone’s got skin in the game.  The most famous of many medical masks is a bleak bubonic beak packed with botanicals. Designed, by Louis XIII’s chief physician, with the miasmatic theory in mind, it was worn by well-paid plague doctors to ward away the putrid breath of the Black Death. Cures consisted of rebalancing the humours by bloodletting, and placing frogs or leeches on necrotic lymph nodes, that malady of the bourgeoisie.  

As part of their crackdown to control the corona virus, Peking is now producing designer doggy masks for their precious pets. Surprising market strategy coming from a 5000-year-old dog eating culture which includes the Cantonese; Chinese nationals who’ll tell you, Anything which walks, swims, crawls or flies with its back to heaven, may be eaten. Not quite double happiness, but in a deliciously vicious dichotomy, feasting on duck tongues among other beasts, the Chinese cherish a mythological swallowing animal they rely on to devour disasters. In the ritual, he who dons the omnivore mask is their saviour. May he acquire a taste for corona alone and savour his viral supper, posthaste. 

If they’re the reason we’ll survive next season, what’s not to love about latex gloves in the time of Corona? 

If dining in China leaves you half-baffled, so would the short life of a 19th century Limerick calf. For 70 years, the customary cattle slaughter in southwest Ireland meant unborn fetuses torn from their mothers. Known as morts or slinks in the industry, they were skinned, tanned and painstakingly hand stitched by women workers, at a meagre wage.   

Considered superior to kid leather, these sought-after specialty gloves were all the rage and worn by British royals, including Queen Victoria. Coined Queen’s GlovesWindsor Castle continuously consumed 12 dozen pairs at a time, from Burke of Patrick Street, the last of three Limerick glove manufacturers, to Her Majesty.  

Famed glover, Cornelius Lyons’ Limericks were so fine they could pass through a lady’s ring. A pair folded up to pack well within a walnut shell. A clever way to sell thin skin so dainty, it was disposed of after a day’s wear. Infused with spermaceti, a white waxy substance from the sperm whale, Limericks preserved the plump, soft, white hands of a girl while she slept. 

For those who persist in living high on the hog, purveyors will poach a wild pig for you, in Peru. Matriarchal herds of Amazonian swine called peccary or javelina are the hapless hides that make the rarest pair and apparently a hearty stew. This pandemic snidely provides a life-size occasion to empathize. Being caught in the crosshairs is anything but boaring. Perhaps it is we who are accessories, to the pointless murder of an array of prey. 

American history proves Black Power and gloves go hand in hand. After winning medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos held their black gloved fists high in the air for the duration of the U.S. national anthem. A political statement that got them banned from the games for life.  

On the other hand, a jury decided famous football player O.J. Simpson, charged with bride-o-cide, would walk free because blood soaked gloves found on the scene didn’t fit his hands. His defense was “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” See, size does matter. 

In 1993, singer, songwriter, and mask-wearing germophobe Michael Jackson, was subjected to a strip search, and consequently acquitted because his genitals didn’t match the description given by a teenage accuser. Thus, in a happy ending, the King of Pop did not abdicate his title for posterity, but in 2009, the moonwalker whose music lingers longer than memories of Neil Armstrong’s lunar landing, auctioned for an astronomical sum, his beloved white glove. 

Be aware, that an unsupervised machine learning algorithm trowels the bowels of what we share on the Web. The namesake of 7th-century Persian polymath Algorithmi, lurches forward toward the final frontier of artificial intelligence, on its tireless search for word vectors. Now, in the natural world, vectors are parasitical, organisms out to make you sick, like a tick transmitting infection from one animal to another.  

Compounding that capability to get around, an aviation vector determines the navigation for planes landing on a tarmac, if you’re craving a concrete example. But a word vector is the co-occurrence of our online clicks. Hence, we’re ghostwriting our own matrixinstructions we’ll be handed down from above. That’s why as its name implies, the algorithm guarantees a future that fits like a GloVe. 

My native New Orleans is now an epicentre of Covid 19 outbreak, making the delta the next domino to take a tumble. Not humbled by a hurricane, but by a federal government that fumbled. Like a Mardi Gras mask, behind every accessory there’s a story, and it doesn’t have to be gory. So here’s a tip. Skip the bra but bring plenty of masks for Summer 2020. Oh, and ask yourself, if they’re the reason we’ll survive next season, what’s not to love about latex gloves in the time of Corona?  


Sign up to our MAILING LIST now for a roundup of the latest fashion, beauty, interiors and entertaining news from THE GLOSS MAGAZINE’s daily dispatches.

Choose Your Categories


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This