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Who knew snoods and soccer scarves would turn out to be so useful?

On making do in a global pandemic.

Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Carabao Cup: Quarter Final Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

One of the strange things about life is how unexpected things can be sometimes. Like how random soccer apparel like snoods and scarves are suddenly vital items to have while living in a coronavirus pandemic.

It sounds trite, but it’s true. I’m going to lay out my experience with the recent orders that everyone should cover their faces when they leave the house. My significant other has an essential job and has been doing the grocery shopping, but our kid and I have stayed home almost completely since the stay-at-home orders. However, we have a dog and so have gone on walks and bike rides around the neighborhood.

But when it comes to face-coverings, we didn’t have a box of masks at the ready, since those are intended for medical personnel right now. I didn’t have bandannas, which is the kind of thing that’s handy to have for a few very select occasions, and I had never needed for any of those occasions. We didn’t even have ski masks, as people who live in the low desert in California and who don’t know how to ski.

As someone who never learned to sew — my mother bemoaned my academic achievement in middle school meaning I got to skip home ec class altogether, and I have to say, I still don’t regret going the academic route — I couldn’t even whip up some D.I.Y. masks, although the video tutorials of using hair ties and pillowcases and doing a folding routine to make it just right have been helpful.

But in the meantime, I hit upon a solution to get us through: Scarves!

I don’t have a large soccer scarf collection, but over the years I’ve obtained around 15 scarves. Most are made with the heavy knit like winter scarves, which is fine if rather hot in the local climate, even on a nice April day, but I do have some of the newer scarves that are made with synthetic material and are very lightweight. Perfect for our neck of the woods!

And so soccer scarves became the random face-covering material we needed to comply with local orders on the rare occasions we step out of the house. Who could have imagined?

I made a joke about snoods, but remember those? The neck coverings that were all the rage with players for awhile, before FIFA banned them?

They would be the perfect thing to wear when ordered to cover your face, and the picture at the top is from 2019, so players still have access to them for warm-ups and stuff in cold weather, but still.

The neck covering was banned almost a decade ago for...reasons...and this BBC story, its tone and the quotes dripping with contempt for people who wish to keep their necks warm, seemed to be the prevailing explanation of why there was a push to ban them at all, even if it still feels like nonsense.

But while snoods are still available, they never became part of every soccer fan’s collection of swag because they were banned to play with and no longer the same kind of apparel that would be appealing to produce with a club’s crest on and sold for a huge markup. And as a result, I’m guessing many of us didn’t have any snoods on hand when we were told to start covering our faces, when snoods are literally made to do that. What could have been, if they hadn’t banned them.

We’re all making do in this time in ways big and small. Maybe you had no scarves but some snoods, or a bandanna or maybe you’re awkwardly tying an old t-shirt around your face. Whatever works — no one should judge these days.

But in a very small way, the need to scramble and find some kind of face covering in the midst of a global pandemic reminds us how unexpected the present day conditions are for most of us. And if, like me, you were casting about and ended up turning to your soccer collection to get you through this in an unexpected way, then I guess that brings us together when we can’t be.

What do you think? What’s your outdoor face covering of choice? Let’s chat about it in the comments below.