I woke up last Monday unable to get out of bed.
I was lethargic, had a faint headache, and could feel a sore throat coming on. I felt blue and just didn't want to move. Not so unusual given that many of us are confined to our homes and experiencing a flood of emotions. We all have had our share of days when we just don't want to get out of bed lately.
Except, well, I was slightly hungover.
You see, I had been on a virtual happy hour spree. I was on a self-quarantine high with back-to-back-to-back with virtual happy hours — four days in a row. I was popular, and it felt good. The invites kept coming in. Some conflicted; others were too early; some too late. I kept accepting what I could. Between my kids' school Zoom meetings and my happy hour invites, I was having a hard time keeping track. Nevertheless, I was there to happy hour.
Some with my husband, some without, some when he just popped in and made a guest appearance. We waited until the kids were fast asleep downstairs so I could crack open my new discovery: Rose Cider (in a can from Austin, then in a can from Brooklyn), and him with his new Scotches and large ice cubes. I endured ten hours of trying to understand my 7-year-old's assignment of vertices and edges, working hard to stay engaged on a 2.5-hour leadership call, and listening to my kids' rendition of Elsa and Anna while trying to answer a dozen or more emails.
Rose Cider never tasted so freaking good.
The truth is, I had never attended so many happy hours pre-COVID-19. I probably only drank once or, at most, twice a week. And I never drank at home unless we had friends over for dinner. It was too easy.
I didn't need to coordinate with my husband for childcare coverage. I didn't have to dress up; I have been makeup-free for 14 days and counting. I didn't have to get the bartender's attention at the crowded bar (never easy for a petite person); I didn't have to ask if they had a sweet Riesling on the menu or what appetizers were available. I didn't have to save seats for friends, sprawling out my jacket, my wallet, my lip-gloss, and my car keys. I didn't have to be on my "one-drink limit," if I was driving.
I just moved from one end of the couch to another. Tossed the work laptop aside. Hit Facetime. Propped the phone against a cushion, sometimes two cushions to balance the phone just right. So everyone could clearly see one of the five identical gray T-shirts I owned. And there I was, happy hour-ing away.
It's been too easy.
Monday's headache as we entered another week of trying to find our new normal reminded me of setting some guidelines for myself. As Governor Cuomo continues to remind all of us in his daily press briefings, this was going to get a lot worse before it got a lot better. Clearly I needed to pace myself with these virtual happy hours.
So I don't need to attend every virtual happy hour invite I receive. No FOMO. Only JOMO. (coined by Oprah as the Joy Of Missing Out.) It's okay to decline with my deepest regrets.
I shouldn't do back-to-back-to-back happy hours. Never a good idea. And Sunday, well it was still a school night and back to work — I mean back to the laptop — on Monday.
I should concentrate my efforts on staying connected with my community. If we haven't spoken in a year, maybe it's not the time to do the virtual happy hour. Maybe it's a yes to the virtual happy hour if it took COVID-19 to make us realize we should have been in closer touch. Otherwise, we can meet up when we are finally allowed to meet up. In a crowded bar with a bad glass of Chardonnay (oh how I never thought I would miss those days of crappy social interaction.)
I should have the same rule I did with live happy hours. No more than two a week, because I wanted to be able to put my kids to bed. Not sure if that one will stick. But I'll try.
I am running low on Rose Cider cans. So one can per virtual happy hour is a good rule of thumb. (Until I am able to safely replenish my stash.)
In place of drinking Rose Cider cans, other coping mechanisms include re-watching Curb Your Enthusiasm (starting again with Season 1) writing for SWAAY, eating Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream Chips, watching 90 Day Fiancée, trying The Wire again (never made it past Episode 1), calling our family on FaceTime, and sending some cards in the mail (writing cards is apparently a lost art form.)
So please don't invite me to another virtual happy hour.
And if you do, that's okay. I'll likely still accept and show up with my Swell bottle. Don't worry, this time there's only water in it.


Mita Mallick