Welcome. In yet another example of how the pandemic has transformed social life, I present a story in which people are using fake Covid exposure as an excuse for canceling dates, skipping weddings and taking extended vacations from work (don’t try that on your employer; it could land you in jail).
Leaving aside the dubious morality of lying about a deadly illness, many of us are still socially rusty, looking for excuses to stay home and avoid the awkwardness of in-person interactions. And the ways things can get awkward seem endless. I went to an in-person meeting at The Times yesterday and found myself distracted by the number of smells I encountered in the conference room: two different kinds of coffee, the scent of someone’s shampoo.
Halloween’s this weekend, an opportunity for a lot of us to get back to some sort of normal (or paranormal?). Trick-or-treating is a tried-and-true transaction with its own script, socializing with training wheels (and, usually, with children, who are, one hopes, more concerned with the quality of the candy you’re passing out than with asking probing questions about the psychological toll of the pandemic).
Here’s how some At Home and Away readers are celebrating. (Responses have been edited for clarity.)
“My church is encouraging everyone to attend the Sunday service in costume. I’m going as ‘little old lady attending Zoom church’: PJs, robe, slippers, coffee cup and iPad. (I am old, so I’m entitled to call myself that.)” —Jackie Weedon, Tryon, N.C.
“I’ll be taking my last not-so-little one out trick-or-treating this year. We did it last year, during Covid, and I’m going to miss the way the neighbors got so creative. Some sat at the end of their driveway dressed in hazmat suits to hand out candy. One rigged a chute from his front door down to the end of his porch steps, and kids caught the candy in their sacks.” —Amy O’Dowd, Ithaca, N.Y.
“I’ll be doing my usual: absolutely nothing to do with Halloween. No candy. No trick-or-treat. I live in a downtown condo with a lack of children. No surprises of the Halloween variety. Good times for this adult.” —Christopher Morrow, San Diego
“I will be observing Halloween weekend by watching the Notre Dame football game in a sports bar. Being surrounded by strangers unmasked indoors is plenty scary for me.” —Rose Bernier, Boston
There’s more to do this weekend, of course. You could check out Gary Shteyngart’s new novel, which our critic Molly Young calls “his finest” to date. Or watch Edgar Wright’s “sumptuous and surprising horror movie,” “Last Night in Soho.” Check out the music of Geese, a group of Brooklyn teens who thought their band would end when high school did. (They were wrong! And the music is good.) Or invite some friends over: Tejal Rao has a party wreath that serves a crowd.