It was election night in 2016. I went to my usual bar in town to watch the election results on tv with my friends. The majority of my friends are on the opposite side of the political spectrum of me, for months we had drunken debates, argued poll results, had the standard drunken pro-life and pro-choice fights, all the liberal vs. conservative “just add alcohol” arguments that you would expect. As we all watched the sea of red cover the tv screen that night, it was obvious my “side” lost. My friends bought me drinks and gave me some light good-natured ribbing. None of us held grudges, we continued on for the next 3 ½ years having drunken debates and exchanging rounds.
I haven’t been to my usual bar since early March 2020. I haven’t been around anyone outside my small circle of 2 other people except for the occasional lunch (outdoor dining only) with another friend about 5 times since the warnings started in March. Some of my friends have invited me over to house parties during the shutdowns and some have asked why I’m not at the bar (not during the shutdown), after all, it’s an election year, it’s my time to “shine.” I’ve politely declined these requests without going into details, but since I haven’t been anywhere since March, all my friends know where I stand on this.
I’ll admit I’ve felt morally superior to some of my friends during this time. I’ve considered them selfish and uncaring when I’ve heard of or seen on social media the social gatherings they have attended. “How could she do this; I know she lives with her elderly mom?” “Who the hell social distances in a bar?” “You’re doing a group photo? Morons!” I say all of these things as I pat myself on the back and sip on my vodka/Powerade in my living room with no bra and scrolling on my phone for the hundredth time today. Sure, I’m lonely, I haven’t worn make-up in 9 months, and I am very much over-pouring the drinks in the living room bar, but I’m saving lives, right?
And I wonder what do my friends think of me? That I’m paranoid? That I’m a loser because I don’t go anywhere? Or my personal favorite, that I’m a sheep? After all, none of them have gotten sick yet and I’ve stayed away for no reason.
From what I’ve read, we’ll be back to “normal” sometime in the summer of 2021. I can’t wait. I miss concerts, trivia nights, drunken karaoke, and the above-mentioned political debates. But my question is, how do I go back to hanging out with my friends again? Are we still friends? Have we found the ultimate deal breaker? Sitting here writing this (completely sober), I’d like to think we still will be, that we’ve always had issues we disagree on and this will just be another one. But is it? Are covid precautions a principle or are they an issue? Is this an unavoidable elephant in the room?
I think only time will tell if this ends up being our “line in the sand.” Just guessing, we’re going to dance around the subject for a while in the beginning but inevitably, this will come up at some point. Unfortunately, I’m guessing we’ll be a few drinks in when it does, and that’s when we’ll find out if this was the ultimate deal-breaker. I am dreading this moment and I’m not at all ready for this discussion, any other debate I show up with “both barrels loaded,” I could spout off covid statistics but it’s not like this is new information, we’ve all been flooded with this stuff for 9+ months. I can’t say anything they haven’t already heard and have chosen to ignore or disbelieve.
I haven’t come up with any answers on how I’ll “acclimate” back into the social scene. I guess I’m hoping for an awkward “How ya been?” or something really safe like “So how about that Josh Hawley?”