A few things that won’t work for me in the After.
I got vaccinated four days ago: let’s tell some truth! Having just lived through 13 months of being afraid to leave the house and never touching a human being apart from an annual PAP smear which most certainly does not count, I have some thoughts on how my social life will be expected to work moving forward. There were so many annoying micromoments that used to occur in the social world that led us all to do things like rejoice when plans were cancelled, and seeing as how literally all plans were canceled for a year, let’s just stop those. Like honestly, why did we love cancelling plans so much? Can we not just remove those reasons and LIVE? Who are we?
Below, a list of obnoxious social behavior that will no longer fly in the After, because they were a pain in the ass in the Before, and we have all thrown our patience out with the sourdough starter, okay? If you want to be a good friend to me in a Post-Pandemic world, you’re going to have to be on board with never, ever doing the following again:
Keeping Me Waiting: In the Before, I had been known to wait upwards of 30 minutes for late-ass dinner companions. I shudder to think how much of my adulthood was spent standing in a goddamned doorway. If I was lucky enough to worm my way to the bar, I had to acrobatically manage being bumped into and physically nudged aside by any number of entitled J.Crew button downs just hankering for a Double IPA. I couldn’t grab a whole ass bar seat, could I, because they either didn’t exist or the second I’d finally sit down atop one, in waltzes your late ass right after I’ve ordered a drink so I have to immediately get the bartender’s attention to close the tab I just opened and you look at me like I’m holding you up from sitting down at a table? Fuck you. You have 15 minutes from the agreed upon meeting time to make yourself materialize or I am leaving. I waited for a vaccine, that was enough.
Old Small Talk Questions: Don’t ask me how long I’ve lived here, don’t ask me what neighborhood I’m in, there will be no more beating around the goddamned bush with information you will hear and instantly forget. We could all die tomorrow, ask me something intimate. Get to know me, you, and make it snappy—we don’t know which plague comes next. If the first question you ask me after my name is what did I learn about the far reaches of my mental health during Covid, I will not take offense—I will respect your investment. If you want to know what major life changes I identified the need for by the time we made it to Christmas then dammit, I will tell you! I too would like to know what toxic presences in your life you shed like so many layers on an increasingly warm spring day. Cut through the watery bullshit of smalltalk and say something that means something. Y'all, we made it.
Lines: If you think I’m waiting in line for anything after I’ve waited in line to buy essential groceries than you and your innovative pastry creation are out of your goddamned minds, Carl. If there is any kind of line to get in any kind of place, bet your ass I will simply go find another place. The era of waiting is over, and you will give me what I want, or my wants will change real easy. The prestige of a line is somewhat lessened of late.
Only Talking To The One That Brung Ya: I don’t care if it’s a restaurant patio or a pedicure chair, we’re making new friends today. It became real apparent, real quick, that we didn’t have as many friends as we thought we had. It also became clear that we need a shitload more. I am so tired of being out in a public space full of people but feeling like there’s water water everywhere and not a drop to meet. Why do we stay so insulated into our own friend groups when we go out? There’s a REASON why women make instant friends in bathrooms—desire has met opportunity and it’s only flaw is that bathroom activities tend to be all too brief! From now on, I’m talking to the table next to me, I’m asking if those appetizers are good, I am leaving with phone numbers and coffee dates, hear me?
Faces In Phones: I’m sorry, are you somehow starved for screens?? I don’t give a shit if we’re in line for coffee, standing in an elevator, or waiting for flight. Your face will be up and in the wind, and you will know what it is to see the world around you. Stop sticking your face in a screen as a social crutch. You’ve had a year to deep-dive into whatever insecurities you have that make you unable to acknowledge other humans in public—put your pencils down, time is up. You will make eye contact with someone, and you will survive the experience. We were nothing but bots for a year. Unplug yourself, Neo, and experience something real.
Not Taking The Reins: We’ve all be on those group texts where one person says “we should hang out!” and then expects someone else in the group to actually do the work of planning that hangout. From now on, my response is, “you’re right, when and where would you like us to do that?” And if you don’t respond, or come back with some, “I dunno, what do YOU guys want to do” filth, I’m leaving the chat if not the friendship. This is the After, MAKE IT HAPPEN. Theoretical desires to see each other in person no longer hold any meaning for me. You need to put your planning capabilities where your thumbs are, or leave me the fuck alone. My social calendar better be as blocked off as Times Square on New Year’s by August, and flaking on me is no longer an easy out. You can either prove to me that you’re bleeding or in jail and thus can’t keep our plans, or you can lose future friendship privileges as you clearly cannot be trusted. I’ve had a year’s worth of staying home to realize that staying home ain’t that great. Don’t just shoot your desire to hang out into a text with the expectation that someone else will do your job for you. Oh, you think we should hang out? Prove it.
Hot Mess Unpreparedness: If you’ve made it through a global pandemic but still show up in the After with a phone that needs to be charged behind the bar, you need to know you’re alive by the skin of your teeth. Anyone who doesn’t have a plastic baggie full of PPE and more cleaning supplies than a hotel housekeeping cart in their purse can fuck right off out of my life. We take care of ourselves and our messy shit now, because your chaos doesn’t make you quirky anymore, it makes you a liability. If you don’t have your shit together, I’m going to assume that in the last year of our Oh Lord No 2020 you learned nothing, and thus cannot be trusted.
Harsh? Direct? Somewhat cunty? YOU BETCHA. I’m ready to be let out of the cage because I’m not doin’ just fine and there are certain things I expect of us all when we regroup. Social norms and expectations need to change right along with Work From Home policies and the degree of acceptable sanitation on planes. I haven’t had a social life in over a year, and it’s taught me quite a bit about how much I’d previously been putting up with. As of right now, I’m 90% immune, and 100% sick of your shit.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster. You can read all her Medium essays here.