The following first appeared in Stephinitely, a weekly newsletter from columnist Stephanie Hayes featuring a bonus column and behind-the-scenes chatter. To subscribe and get in your inbox every Monday, click here.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control proclaimed fully vaccinated people can ditch masks in most situations. This was hopeful news! It also inspired confusion among epidemiologists and the public adjusting to the sudden change.
Furthermore, it did not cover all potential COVID-19 tension points. I have some follow-up questions:
Is it safe to turn to a friend at lunch and say, “Ew, this is so gross, here, try it”?
If someone accidentally spits on me while talking, should I still excuse myself to the bathroom for an anxiety attack?
Can the teenagers make out at prom?
Can I lean to another parent at the school talent show and whisper, “I always hope one of these kids will sound like the girl in Love Actually who sings Mariah Carey, but it never happens in real life”?
If I am traveling in a dry climate, and my lips are chapped because I am from Florida and used to humidity, and only one person in my party has Chapstick, and the choices are to use that Chapstick or bleed from the mouth and suffer, is it okay to use the Chapstick?
Should I lick my fingers before turning the pages of a book, or keep a delicate dish of purified finger water nearby for this purpose?
If my date orders a cocktail, but decides he can’t finish it, is it okay to grab it and down the rest because it cost $12?
Spin the bottle: Y/N?
Can I try a bit of your salmon, because I was thinking of ordering it, but I just had salmon yesterday, but, ugh, it sounds so good?
Are envelopes back?
If I realize too late that I have double-dipped chips in community salsa, should I tell everyone and throw out the salsa, or is it fine to glance around the table and see who noticed and then decide to just keep quiet?
If I find myself in Ireland with an opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone, should I still wave at the Blarney Stone from a social distance?
Can I suck helium out of the same balloon as someone else to make my voice sound funny, or should I get my own balloon?
When swimming, should I submerge the pool noodle and blow water out the other side onto someone’s head, or is that just rude even without infectious disease?
If it’s karaoke night with one microphone, and I want to do the high harmonies on Bohemian Rhapsody, which is a six-minute song, is it safe to share the mic with my friend who is handling the melody? Is it worth it for the Galileo bit?
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If I encounter a Close Talker, can I say that I need space due to COVID concerns, or do I have to return to taking tiny, unspoken steps backward, laughing nervously as they respond by moving closer because they lack any perception of boundaries?
Are the bar peanuts okay? Wait, don’t answer that, CDC. They never were.