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My Last Attempt to Scrounge Up Some Fun Before the End

When Charlamagne Tha God of Breakfast Club fame posted “What y’all cousins working at the Pentagon tell y’all today?” on Instagram a few weeks ago, I guffawed. Why? Because I’ll be damned if my stepdad didn’t forward a text from “our cousin at the Pentagon” to our family group message the week prior. “Please be advised … the president will order a two-week mandatory quarantine for the nation.”

Granted, things didn’t escalate as quickly as predicted by our “cousin” and obviously the current state of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County is no laughing matter. I only reflect on the solid chuckle the post gave me because when a “situation” arises, my family is the first to stock up on toilet paper, milk, bread, and anything else that may be of interest to the general public.

It seems like just yesterday that my boyfriend was disappointed that the St. Patty’s Day bar crawl had been postponed — until June, which left us all scratching our heads — despite the event being one of his primary reasons for returning so soon from the West Coast. And while Gov. Roy Cooper would soon ban groups larger than 50 from gathering across the state, we managed to sneak in a small pub crawl of our own that Saturday. Little did we know, our fun would soon come to a disturbing and swift end.

Three days later, the group texts were circulating about how all restaurants and bars would transition to take-out only. I immediately became parched, thirsty for just one more ice-cold beer.

As a creature of the night constantly on a search for a new watering hole, I felt the walls begin to close around me. What would a vampiress like myself do without all my favorite nightlife hotspots?

Let’s be honest, though. I’m an undercover recluse with a profound gift for Netflix-and-chill and a borderline medical issue with napping. And so I thought maybe, just maybe, I would be okay. My activity checklist for the past two weeks has consisted of:

-Consuming all the snacks and meals my heart could desire.
-Watching every episode of Tiger King and Love is Blind then conducting the subsequent research.
-Collecting bottles of $2.99 wine from Harris Teeter so as to give a new meaning to binge-watching with This is Us.
-Spending countless hours surveying TikTok and attempting to edit videos.
-Stalking my new favorite local content producer (hoping for an interview and maybe a virtual dance-off to come).
-Coordinating FaceTime happy hour schedules with the homies.
-Researching fitness apps offering free courses (with no real plan of actually using them).

Before all that could come to pass, however, the itch for the sounds, tastes and smells of nightlife was overwhelming. That’s when I begged my friend for the ultimate test in friendship and social distancing: a backyard party. Essentially, the goal was to gather a SMALL group of friends around a fire in her backyard. No hugs or handshakes. No sharing of glasses. Hand washing and sanitizing upon bathroom entry and exit.

Chalk me up as one of the ignorant millennials, but I’m not frivolously running amok in these Queen City streets. I’m not visiting my family or older relatives. I’m drinking lots of water and doing what I can to boost my immune system, and I’m using sanitizer more than I’ve ever wanted to in my whole African-American life and I have the ashy knuckles to prove it.

That being said, my “quaranqueen” of a friend created the perfect setup for a small gathering (before it became officially illegal to make unnecessary visits). We stocked up on the essentials: Pinot grigio, Rumple Minze and Tito’s vodka then made our way over. When we arrived, we entered the yard gate to the most beautiful ambiance of string lights and in the center of the yard were five lawn chairs strategically placed more than 6 feet apart.

The icing on the cake? The family dog showed each of us the love we’d been missing out on. [Editor’s Note: DON’T YOU SEE THAT THE DOG IS THE PROBLEM HERE, AERIN? IF YOU’RE ALL TOUCHING THE DOG THE SOCIAL DISTANCING IS POINTLESS!]

Even after more than our fair share of drinks, music and FaceTime with far-away friends, then collecting around a warm fire, we managed to respect the rules of social distancing for the majority of the night and fill our tanks with in-person interaction before dispersion to our quarantine dens where we shall remain until God knows when.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Mecklenburg County, it will get harder and harder to enjoy a backyard “extra light Corona” shindig. In fact, it goes against the ban to go anywhere non-essential. But there’s good news. No one can regulate how much wine you consume or how many FaceTime calls you make. “Drink irresponsibly” and enjoy this time the best you can.

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