Reopening Social Life: Making the Cut

Dear Fill in the Blank,

I understand that you have dropped fifteen of your Facebook friends. I understand this because they have all been complaining to me. What did they do wrong?  Was it something they said? Something they did? Didn’t do?

I get it: you are doing the isolation purge. Just as you have been going through the boxes of your third-grade notes and saying, “Will I ever really want to read my in-depth review of The Cricket in Times Square again?” you are reevaluating your relationships.

You have invested too much time in your spouse to kick that poor shlub in perpetual sweatpants to the curb – tempting as it’s been, what with the scintillating dissections of how the dishwasher should be loaded. So now you are taking each friend in hand, so to speak, examining her, and saying, Can I stand to hear for the trillionth time the story of how your prom date stood you up and you wound up going to an Aerosmith concert and throwing up in Steven Tyler’s lap? Something I myself have done if you replace Steven Tyler with my father and go back about fifteen years before that prom.

            Seriously, the surfeit of hours during isolation have inspired many of us to reflect on how little time we actually have, especially the older among us, the group once most at risk. How do we want to spend our remaining moments? Binge re-watching Boston Legal?

Or giving up television altogether and starting an organic food garden on the chance that kale becomes as rare as toilet paper once was? 

            Some of us have turned inward, meditating on how much we love humanity but dislike actual people. Forget the venal politicians including the corrupt county commissioners (not that I have any in mind), the lethal insurance companies and their employees (whom I refer to as The Minions of Satan,) I’m talking about the family members who will argue you to a shred over who really was promised your grandma’s china – it turns out to be the one niece who eats frozen mac and cheese out of the box – still partially frozen. Who saw that coming?

  Your neighbors have taken their newfound time to fly flags so repellant to your beliefs that your fantasy life consists of dreams of firebombing their houses and that is when you are feeling charitable.

            And your friends. Well there are the ones who will not call, as if you actually have a virus that could be transmitted by phone. And you have had too much time to examine the annoying tics of the ones who do call – the ones for whom sounds like ummm reflect an actual lexicon of avoidance and lack of imagination.  So you cull, like you would the dead leaves of the cabbage plant in your organic garden. You hear that this is good. It is pruning. And pruning brings growth, no? Of course, it does, if by growth you mean shrinkage. Two points if you get the Seinfeld reference. I have not given up TV and the closer I get to my garden, the more Allegra I have to take. 

            So now that things have been opening up and we have the chance to see each other again, I want to thank you. I kept close track. While you no longer give my Facebook posts a like, or even as far as I can tell, a glance, I am still on your list.  I suspect that you limit the things I can see but considering the amount of posts of your meals that you share online (OMG she’s eating gluten free bread with avocado and homegrown sprouts) I feel OK with that. And you have agreed to meet me in a restaurant where we are wearing surgical masks as the servers sneeze on our lunch entrees.

I realize you agreed to meet for lunch because I don’t quite merit the time you’d have to take for dinner but I appreciate the fact that I accomplished something in all this time apart. I made the cut.

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