Social-distancing improved my social life

Opinion: Columns

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By John Rice

Columnist / Staff reporter

Ever since I began social distancing, my social life has improved. That's because I had already been "sheltering at home" for years. Those of you who work from home know what I mean. Working alone in your home is about as isolating as it gets. My only "human" contact came via emails, texts and occasional work-related calls.

When it came to casual phone conversations, they made me so nervous I'd pace around the room, or do laps around the block. All of that has changed thanks to the pandemic. For the first time in my life, I'm a "phone guy." I stay perfectly relaxed during 45-minute calls.

These long calls have allowed me to stay close with my siblings. We talk more now than we did when we were growing up under the same roof. We even resolve issues that go back to those peanut-butter-and-jelly days.

I've also used the phone to reconnect with high school classmates and other longtime friends. We reminisce like retirees are required to do. We also discuss the current crisis and keep tabs on how we're coping.

Besides the phone, I enjoy mask-to-mask conversations. My social life has expanded beyond trips to Ed's Way and picking up meals from local restaurants. I was recently invited to my first-ever social-distancing party. For years, I've been hoping to be invited to a yard party. I'd hear the laughter and music and smell the wood smoke. I would consider crashing the gathering with a six-pack but lacked the guts.

I brought a four-pack to the social-distancing party. About 10 of us were spread out over three front yards and the parkway. It was comfortable because I already knew almost half of them. It was also a treat to meet new people. After two hours of lively conversation, they extended a standing invitation to future get-togethers.

We've also hosted social-distance gatherings at our home. Our location is ideal because we have a roomy front porch and spacious yard. It's delightful to sit outdoors and enjoy food, drink and music with loved ones. We even got to know our neighbors after living here for two years.

It turns out we're surrounded by fascinating people. We have a doctor downstairs whom I interviewed for a column. She has lived all over the world and has had some incredible adventures. The woman next door has a son who is a journalist in Central Africa and a daughter who is a surgeon in New Orleans. I'd like to sit around their dinner table.

The social whirlwind starts in our apartment. I am no longer home alone. To say that I have constant companionship would be an understatement. The three of us somehow coexist peacefully and rarely get on each other's nerves. Tiny things, though, can set us off, like someone eating too loudly. By rotating from one room to the next, we keep our sanity.

We also have social encounters on the streets of Forest Park. We keep a safe distance, but I notice we have more time to linger. My dad said social life flourished during the Great Depression. People had plenty of time to talk or play cards, because they literally had nothing better to do.

Obviously, a global pandemic and another Great Depression are a poor tradeoff for an improved social life. That would be like saying amputation is a good cure for foot odor. I believe, though, that the current crisis is changing our behavior in some positive ways. Just stay 6 feet away from me if you're going to slurp soup.

Love the Review?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Forest Park Review and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

2 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Chris Robin from Lisle Il  

Posted: June 22nd, 2020 8:42 PM

Apply Tinactin at my insistance, but keep your social distance.

Eileen Gaughan  

Posted: May 19th, 2020 4:40 PM

Loved this column John. I'm finding that friends of mine who were always traveling and going to parties (not that I was ever jealous of them) are now very available by phone.

Facebook Connect

Community Guide 2019 - 2020

To view the full print edition of the Forest Park Review 2019 - 2020 Community Guide, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Forest Park.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad