How To Have Fun During A Pandemic When You’re Single & Freaked The F*ck Out

I’m not buying this “reopening” business, either.

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Photo by Samantha Salazar on Unsplash

Sometimes I get fan mail. I know, it shocks the shit out of me too. In one such piece of digital praise, I was asked a question that was both thought provoking and timely, given that my birthday is in a week and I have no idea how to spend it, apart from maybe watching Homeland all day. These are strange times, I’ll take all the inspiration I can get.

My reader/listener asked me what she should do if she wants to take herself on a “solo date” despite the fact that there’s a global plague afoot. I don’t really like to call activities done alone “solo dates” because that sounds kind of sad to me, so I don’t label my single activities any differently than how you’d normally refer to them. If you must give them a name, opt for something positive and completely separate from couple-centric naming conventions. Or just call it fun, because that’s what it is, chickens.

I’ve been quarantining alone since the 12th of March, 2020, and “fragile” doesn’t begin to describe the current state of me. I have the mental strength of overcooked noodles and the patience of a four-year-old rolled in sugar. I go back and forth between feeling slowly more comfortable going outside, and getting scared shitless again after I read an article about Texas and remember my family lives there.

New York is rounding the corner of Phase 3, whatever that means, but given the absence of a vaccine and the presence of stupid people I don’t trust a word I read. So while other people can reopen all they want, my single self who has no one to care for her in times of illness will be extra cautious about rejoining society.

That being said, I’m losing my shit over here. The cat is excellent company but I need more than a grocery run to satiate me in terms of like…doing life. I’m spending way too much time perusing all the tea options on the shelves and don’t even get me started on the hot sauces, if that clarifies anything for you. So I’ve been trying to compile a list of activities a single person can do alone in service of feeling like there’s some sort of safe fun to be had right now. Quarantine was all puzzles and banana bread in cold weather, but it’s summer now, and it’s okay to admit that this sucks. It’s not okay to do nothing to try to mitigate it however, because doing safe fun things will hopefully inspire others to do safe fun things, and then maybe before we know it, it will be 2021 and there will be a vaccine and normal life again I dunno.

The following is a list of things single people can do to (hopefully) have a little single person fun this summer since we can’t take solo trips or go to the spa or eat dinner at the bar at a fancy restaurant good god I miss life. Okay, ANYWAY:

  • if you have a backyard, there should be a baby pool in it — bonus points if you get one of those giant inflatable unicorn sprinklers.
  • solo movie night with really extravagant popcorn flavors — I’m talking truffle that shit
  • get an astrology or tarot reading via FaceTime — I’ve done it, it’s amazing, I recommend Sara Vrba, whose work is a combination of both.
  • fly a kite — I’m not fucking kidding
  • eat a meal in a place you never do — your balcony, rooftop, backyard, etc.
  • take a virtual tour of something like a museum or a botanical garden (where safe, go to a botanical garden and walk around alone, which is a much nicer way to really take in nature than with another person you have to talk to and worry about IMO)
  • take a cooking or mixology class online
  • buy some fabulous pajamas and slippers and wear nothing else for as long as you want
  • have music on in the house, essentially always— find a song you like, then go to “song radio” on Spotify for a pre-made mix of songs in a similar vein…I’ve had Kings Of Convenience “Misread” radio on for three weeks straight no lie
  • Make spicy ice cubes by freezing cayenne pepper into them and then using them for your margaritas or pour a beer and lime juice over them and love your life for a moment
  • dedicate an entire day to some sort of very extravagant watching of an intense film series — think Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars, etc. (bonus points for including food and drink pairings with films during different parts of the day)
  • set up your Christmas tree for no goddamned reason at all, if you do not have a fake Christmas tree you set up every year, buy one, they are super cheap online right now — I suggest getting a pink one, but do you
  • Popsicles , lots of popsicles — I like the red, white, and blue ones that taste like lemonade if you happen to be in the mood to send me popsicles
  • create a quarantine scrapbook of all the meshugennah text messages, photos, memes, etc that you and your friends have been sending to each other for comfort, I feel like someday we’ll want to have that to look back on and you never know when you’ll get asked to be in a documentary of some kind
  • revisit music from when you were in middle school and high school and make an autobiographical Spotify playlist — I’m telling you, the last time I did this I looked up and three hours had gone by and I’d reconnected with “Tragic Kingdom”
  • Look up the location of a Little Free Library in your neighborhood and donate some books to it — instant mood lifter I speak from experience
  • Get a takeout bagel and sit in the park for breakfast, before the world has come outside with their casual mask usage
  • Buy laundry detergent in a scent you love and wash every item in your house in it — my rugs are in the dryer as we speak
  • String twinkle lights in any color you want all over your house — just trust me
  • Plan a Zoom meeting with friends where everyone has to create a 3-minute powerpoint presentation designed to educate and entertain the whole group (this is my friend Jaime’s idea and it is spectacular, we’ve done it twice, highly recommend)
  • Set up a small folding table in front of a window with a tablecloth of some kind, flowers if you have them, etc as if you were dining in front of a Parisian hotel window — I’ve done it, it’s lovely
  • Rice Krispie treats aren’t the worst idea in the world…

There’s a middle ground somewhere in between hiding under the covers (which is also your option) and having the summer we thought we would. Any effort you put into having fun while also staying safe is energy well spent, if you want the opinion of one very freaked out single woman in Brooklyn. Is it as good as real life? No. Is it a damn good replacement given the circumstances? Yes. Especially the popsicles.

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Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, a lot.

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NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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