Gas Masks Are The New Black

“I’m weighing the pros and cons of carrying a gas mask around in my purse and looking like a totally paranoid American,” my friend Roz Sentell writes on her Facebook wall.

“I’ve already researched fervently online for info, especially for other options.  So I read you can pee on a cloth, breath through that, and it crystallizes the enzymes.

Let’s put this into practical perspective, people. A visual of me, being somewhere public, alarm goes off, nowhere to run…so I rip off my shirt, pee on it, and then use it as a makeshift gas mask.

Yeah, ok.

But what’s a life worth living when your neighbors see you pee on yourself and then deeply inhale it?”

I burst out laughing as I see this status message. I laugh harder when I see the responses from her friends. “Buy a bigger purse!” and “Tie a cute scarf to your bag and keep your shirt on.  Wear a skirt and you won’t have to pull down your pants,” they write.

I don’t know if I would call Roz a paranoid American or a true Israeli, but I have to give my “fashionista” friend some major props. I truly love how she can laugh at a situation when so many people seem to be panicking.

I know my friends think I’m a fool for joking about a gas mask as a fashion accessory. “Gas masks are the new black” I write on their Facebook walls.  Another friend has a similar status: “Should I get my gas mask in hot pink or aquamarine?”

Honestly, if we don’t make light of the situation — how else are we going to get through it?

I’ve noticed that’s what many Israelis seem to think anyway. And I agree with them.

There was this time in November 2012, when rockets were flying over Tel Aviv, that I was invited to a swanky bar near the beach.  The inevitability of missiles flying over the city were obvious — two had already been shot down by the Iron Dome in the past day.  But while it was unlikely another rocket would be shot over that night — I was still quite fearful to walk home.

I had never been afraid to walk home in central Tel Aviv since I moved to the area.

I tremble as I trample home in my sky-high heels, cowering as I looked back at the sand and worrying that rocket would careen through the clear night air.

When I come home, blisters ablazing, my Israeli boyfriend and his friends laughed at me as I peel off my shoes and tell them my heels were too high.  “How are you supposed to run from bombs?” they joked. Of course they are laughing at the situation.  Black humor is something I have grown accustomed to from them and from other natives in general.

“We’ve seen worse,” another Israeli pal tells me when I question her about wearing a gas mask. “Nothing’s going to happen,” she says.

“And if it does, I’ll have to dig my mask out of my parents’ basement,” she adds. “Maybe I’ll find my mom’s vintage top I’ve been looking for.”

Roz tells me that when her Israeli boyfriend was a kid, he had to take his mask to school like all the other children.  The girls would draw hearts on theirs and some kids would put wheels on the box and drag it behind them.  This was the “IT” trend. Fashion-savvy, right?

It’s that time again.  Gas masks are this week’s MUST-HAVE item.

Yes, I take fashion seriously.  But it can also be something I can laugh at. No, I’m nowhere near comparing fashion to the situation happening in Israel right now. But I can say this: At a very serious time in the country– I’d like to think I’m just like many of the other Israelis who can make light of the situation, by thinking about things they love.

Honestly, if we don’t make light of the situation — how else are we going to get through it?

About the Author
Simona Kogan is an online writer, content editor and pop culture fanatic whose favorite topics include Israeli fashion and culture. Originally from New Jersey, she exploded onto the Israeli scene in December 2007. Back then, she was one of the first writers to blog about Israeli fashion in English for her blog Fashion Israel.
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