Fans of the "Doctor Who" series will remember an episode, when David Tennant portrayed the perpetual time traveler, in which viewers were ominously advised, "Don't blink." Otherwise, what appeared to be statues of angels would use that millisecond to bare their fangs and move in for the kill.

These objets d'art are scary, indeed, even for normal grownups who don't seriously contemplate such things as "alien DNA" and "demon sperm." But current circumstances have forced an evolution in Tennant's warning. Today, the admonition would be, "Don't cough." If you do, anyone in the vicinity will think you have COVID-19, and face mask or no, they'll back off quicker than you can say "nose swab."

On Friday, I was at the NSU Fit for my morning swim, when I overheard a couple of elderly gentlemen - my age or worse - discussing the dilemma. Now I was at least 6 feet away, and both of them were masked, so I may have misunderstood. But as far as I'm concerned, this is what one said: "Trouble is, ya cain't cover a fart no more with a cough or people go nuts, so ya gotta watch whatcha eat."

I hadn't thought about that, and my husband had just bought a 10-pound sack of pinto beans at Costco.

As I was awaiting a lane, I mentioned this incident on Facebook. One of my friends said, "Now you need to cover a cough with a fart!" Since coughs are generally louder than noises emanating from the other end, I replied, "That would require a really loud, protracted gas-passing that would sound sort of like a trombone blast."

I've always thought trombones, in the hands of the less skilled performers, sounded like flatulence - especially if the slide was employed a certain way. This suggestion wasn't appreciated by Brad Henderson, a great musician who graduated a year ahead of me at Fort Gibson and whom many readers will know. Nor was it a comparison embraced by my brother, who played the same instrument.

The ripple affect caused by an unexpected cough is as good a reason as any for wearing a facial covering. That was a term the mayor used in a brief conversation with me Friday - both of us had our mouths and noses covered- and I have to admit it's more accurate than "masks." Masks are used to conceal one's identity, and are either cartoonish or frightening. Facial coverings are designed to protect people from the spray people huff out of their pieholes when they cough, sing, talk, or mouth-breathe. And given what I've seen over the past few months, I must also admit Cherokee County has more mouth-breathers and knuckle-draggers than I once imagined.

It's no secret that I have a thing for bling, but that obsession may have run its course. Good thing, because I've hit upon another: designer facial coverings. The first one I got, as I said a few weeks ago, was given to me by Cathy Cott. She picked it up at 490 Creations, and it has several justice-oriented slogans: "Black Lives Matter," "Love is Love," "Women's Rights Are Human Rights," and so on.

Since then, I've added to the collection. And I have no plans of stopping soon, because about a decade ago, I began to be bothered by allergies. They've gotten progressively worse, and sometimes, I cough, though more often I sneeze - usually four or five times a day, in succession. And I suspect muffling a cough with a face covering would be preferable to masking cough with a fart, regardless of whether others in the vicinity are at least 6 feet away.

I have a groovy psychedelic one I got at the Rock 'n' Roll Music Hall of Fame in Cleveland, which we visited. The museum recently reopened, and it's down with social distancing. A poster featuring Sting, with the phrase "Don't stand so close to me," appears in several areas, and masks are required. My husband's mask has skulls on it. Actually, his collection is more extensive than mine. We each got a logo mask at Cedar Point, and in June, he scored one at Silver Dollar City.

The latest acquisition is one that isn't available to the general public yet, but I know a few things about going through channels. Being a "Harry Potter" fan, I got my hands on a Ravenclaw mask for myself, a Slytherin for my husband, and ones for everyone in my circle whose "house" at Hogwarts I'm aware of. I can get a good deal so if any other friend shares my childish interests, let me know before Tuesday and I'll see what I can do.

Oh, and if anyone hears of a mask with bling, let me know.

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