A Not-Socially-Distanced Story

It’s funny, or maybe not, how my wife Sandy and I have changed our ways of thinking and acting during the it-better-end-soon pandemic era. Scared quite shitless when the era began in the USA in mid-March, we hunkered down, staying home nearly all of the time. We ventured out only to take walks, to buy provisions at supermarkets and to take out meals from restaurants. Right from the start, mask-wearing and social distancing were parts of our regimen. We wore disposable gloves when shopping, washed our hands regularly and used hand sanitizer profusely. None of this was unique to us, obviously. Most people were scared quite shitless, and took the same safety precautions that we did.

Thankfully, Sandy’s and my anxiety levels have subsided since then, mostly due to the easing of the lockdown in Pennsylvania, the state that we call home. As a result, we’re getting out of the house a lot more than we did a few months ago (we dine outdoors at restaurants frequently, for example), and are feeling better about things because of that. But the f*cking coronavirus, which ain’t going away any time soon, is still very much on our minds. Yes, we’ve ditched disposable gloves (hand-sanitizing and hand-washing make them superfluous, I think). But, in general we continue to follow safety guidelines.

“In general?” I hear a few voices ask. Right, 99% of the time we haven’t deviated from the guidelines. But the remaining 1% of the time we have, and that’s because we have pals named Cindy and Gene. When we’ve been with them recently, social distancing among the four of us has gone out the window.

It all began on an innocent day: the fourth of September. Sandy, myself, Cindy and Gene met up at the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, which only two days before had reopened after almost six months of coronavirus-precipitated closure. Masked, we began to wander the galleries together. Before we knew it, Sandy and I were practically shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends instead of the recommended six feet apart. If masks weren’t required in the museum, the four of us probably would have yanked ours off within minutes. Never fear, the yankings took place a couple of hours later when we all settled around a small table on the patio of a café near the museum. There we sat, ate and talked, a foot or two away from one another.

Now, none of us four ever will be mistaken for a wild and crazy type. What, then, caused the two couples to say goodbye to social distancing and mask-wearing when in each other’s company? In my case, I think it was because it somehow just felt like the natural thing to do. Subconsciously, I apparently had been as ready as could be to have normal interactions with these two close friends. And I knew that Cindy and Gene routinely follow the coronavirus guidelines, and trusted that they had determined, as best they could, that they were virus-free.

Let the good times roll! That’s what they continued to do in Cape May, a sweet, seaside, beachy town at New Jersey’s southern tip, about 110 miles from my suburban Philadelphia abode. There, Cindy had rented a condo for the Saturday-to-Saturday week that straddled late September and early October. At Cindy’s invitation, Sandy and I came down to stay with her for the final three of those days. Gene, who was needed at his and Cindy’s Philadelphia home for most of the week, arrived one day after Sandy and myself.

Yeah, we all had a great time together. We social-distanced from other people, but not among ourselves. We wore masks in Cape May’s stores and when walking on visitor-crowded streets, but otherwise not. Our time together passed quickly. Sandy and I were delighted to be on a mini-vacation in a popular area that we’d been to only once before, halfway to forever ago.

Cape May is a lovely place. It is filled, primarily, with old, well-maintained houses, hotels and other structures, all exuding strong character. And Cape May’s public beach, beside the Atlantic Ocean, is wide and lengthy. I, who hadn’t strode on a beach or seen ocean waters since a vacation last year on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was damn well thrilled to do so once again. And I also was damn well thrilled to walk through the woods and around the marshlands of Cape May Point State Park. They were a sight for sore eyes.

Well, hopefully Cindy and Gene and Sandy and I will be able to continue our undistanced get-togethers. I’m already looking forward to our next one, whenever that might be. And by the way, I’m sure that what the four of us have done is anything but rare. Worldwide, undoubtedly, plenty of people, who otherwise adhere to coronavirus-related safety guidelines, at times are meeting up with trusted relatives and friends in a normal, pre-pandemic manner. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts about this and/or related topic(s).

Okay, that’s about it, girls and boys. Be well. Adios till next time.

(All of the photos were taken in Cape May, New Jersey, USA)

138 thoughts on “A Not-Socially-Distanced Story

  1. alhenry November 1, 2020 / 3:59 pm

    Hey Neil, sorry it took so long to get here, but having read my new post, you’ll understand I was “pre-occupied” with a few zillion mini-crises. Anyway, while Ed and I have been super-strict about masks everywhere, and have (sadly) turned down even invites to small neighborhood gatherings, I do get the need for the social, and the hope that if strictly limited to a couple of folks, all will be well. So, I’m crossing my fingers for you and hoping that all does remain well. And if there’s a well-vetted, science-approved vaccine for this monster, I’ll be the FIRST in line. Just try nudging me out. Take care, Stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. theburningheart November 3, 2020 / 10:30 am

    Well, do as best as you can, the rest it’s not in our hands, feels like playing Russian roulette every time you go out, doesn’t it?
    Now we are at a Deer Hunter level! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 3, 2020 / 1:58 pm

      You’re right. We are taking chances, no matter what we do. It’s a terrible situation.


  3. Fictionophile November 3, 2020 / 1:30 pm

    Sorry it has taken me so long to read this post Neil. I’m falling behind in this and several other areas it seems. I’ve begun baby-sitting for my 18 month old grandson a few days a week and my scheduling has vanished. (he is walking and climbing… need I say more)
    I think it quite wonderful that you have another couple that you don’t have to distance with. Here in Atlantic Canada we call it a ‘bubble’. There are family bubbles and friend bubbles, but all is well as long as you truly trust the people in your bubble to behave as responsibly as possible.
    Sadly, there seems to be no end in sight for this pandemic. I hope that travel becomes a possibility again before we’re too old to do any traveling.
    One thing is for sure, my husband and I will NOT be visiting the U.S.A. while Trump is still in office. Hope that changes soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 3, 2020 / 3:48 pm

      Biden better win! Trump is the pits. Among other things, Trump is a bully, a pathological liar, a crook, and an enemy of democracy. It’s horrifying to know that many people support him.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jeanleesworld November 3, 2020 / 10:28 pm

    Yes! Connections with others are so important. We cannot live life through screens alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 4, 2020 / 7:29 am

      Hard to believe that the world has been in such a strange situation for most of 2020. Strange, and unfortunately very true.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld November 5, 2020 / 6:16 am

        All we can do is move forward, and be better in order to inspire others to be better. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Emma November 4, 2020 / 7:07 am

    Agree – be safe as you can, but it’s so important to interact, etc. Lovely pics, and good luck today…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 4, 2020 / 9:50 am

      Greetings, Emma. Yeah, we all are taking chances when we leave the house to go to stores, medical appointments, etc, even when we wear masks and take other precautions. You just never know.


  6. veeds November 8, 2020 / 4:18 pm

    I’m glad you folks found “trustees” (as i call them) to share some time with. My guess is that knowing someone, or some people, so well that you know their hygiene and social practices is a reasonably safe way to proceed. The problem comes, IMHO, when a group of friends starts gathering in close areas without masking or social distancing…simply relying on the friendships.

    As a sort of case in point: I was traipsing around Scottsdale’s waterfront (i.e. canal) art district the other night for their annual November art fest and noticed numerous groups dining at patio restaurants (yeah, that’s the great thing about Arizona…November outdoors!) in fairly close quarters. Yes, the groups were in 2’s and 4’s, but the tables were were not really spaced, so it was really more like 40 people, unmasked, dining 𝘢𝘭 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘰 with each table within a few feet.

    Worse yet, teens in groups of 5 or 6 — almost all unmasked and clearly unrelated — meandered casually throughout the area, apparently unconcerned for either themselves or any of their housemates or family.

    This morning, I played tennis with a woman who is a nurse and whose husband is a medical doctor and she announced that masks are no longer needed…just look at Sweden. I said every credible medical expert or public health organization I’ve heard says it’s still critical to stay masked. I challenged her to send me credible evidence otherwise…I’m looking forward to eating my words.

    But I’ll stay masked in public.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 8, 2020 / 5:49 pm

      Hey there. If masks ever are proven to be unhelpful, then we’re in big trouble till good vaccines arrive. But for now, all the experts in the States are still urging people to wear masks. Thanks for your input. I appreciate it a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

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