This series looks beyond bars, shows, sporting events, vacations and other experiences that we know all too well have been affected, and examines the ones that are less obvious, which makes some of them more likely to fade away. Of course, covid-19 has had far more serious effects, and it is the privileged among us who have the luxury of dwelling on such minutiae. But the list reveals how the pandemic has reached into every corner of our lives — and the ways that life’s modest events can evoke a calming normalcy and bring us joy …
From our story: “If anything, the coronavirus outbreak has simply reminded us of the risks already inherent in buffets. To be clear, buffets, in and of themselves, are not a problem. I’ve enjoyed many and still drool at the thought of the rainbow swirl of chaats, curries and dosas available on the buffet at Woodlands, the south Indian restaurant in Langley Park, Md. No, the problem is people, in all our glorious and maddening unpredictability.”
Read our full story by Tim Carman: Welcome to the new buffet, which isn’t a buffet anymore
Dancing with strangers
“The coronavirus preys on our humanity, and dancing brings that out in crazy plumes of joy. You really can’t beat dancing for pulling us tightly together to share — in big, breathless ways — a host of emotional, physical and spiritual sensations. And germs.”
Read our full story by Sarah Kaufman: Some day, we’ll hit the dance floor again. And it will be glorious.
Blowing out birthday candles
“Someday, when we are freed from pandemic purgatory, when our birthday parties no longer involve a grid of pixelated faces on a computer screen, will we still dim the lights and sing as a glowing cake slowly glides into the room? Should we even want to go back?”
Read our full story by Caitlin Gibson: Blowing out candles is basically spitting on your friends’ cake
“Plenty of singles are going on digital dates for weeks or months before getting physical. But others are forging ahead more quickly, with no intention of seeing the person again. They’re asking a lot of questions about their prospective partner’s exposure, going for it if they feel safe and then quarantining just long enough that they can get busy again — with someone new.”
Read our full story by Lisa Bonos: Yes, some people are still having one-night stands
“If bars are dangerous during a pandemic, karaoke is even worse, regardless of what form it takes. In Asia, the most popular is room karaoke (called noraebang in Korea), where a small group rents a private room; in America, because we are show-offs, the best-known style involves singing loudly in a bar in front of friends and strangers. A fun way to spend a night on the town has become a raging cocktail of everything epidemiologists tell us to avoid: Gathering in groups, passing around a microphone that’s potentially covered in virus-covered respiratory droplets, and most of all, singing.”
Read our full story by Fritz Hahn: Karaoke is a health risk during a pandemic. These superfans are desperate for it to return.
“Samples hold a power over us that runs deeper than a berry-stained lip or umami fix. Uri Gneezy, a behavioral economics professor at the University of California at San Diego, said freebies push our reciprocity button: You do something nice for me (for instance, give me a tiny sausage), and I will return the favor (buy a whole box of tiny sausages). Samples can also disrupt the monotony of our shopping list, displacing our same old products with unexpected surprises.”
Read our full story by Andrea Sachs: To sample is human. But our beloved lipstick testers and cheese cubes aren’t coming back anytime soon.
“Does the pandemic signify the oft-declared death of sage-colored currency? Cash now seems fraught with risk, not only because of the bills and coins but the proximity of other people involved in each transaction. Health experts believe these concerns are overblown, but anxiety has a way of compounding like interest.”
Read our full story by Karen Heller: Will the pandemic finally kill cash?
“Are they essential? Hardly. That’s kind of what makes them fun. But needless to say, the majority of ball pits in the United States are closed right now, and nobody’s in a huge hurry to reopen them.”
Read our full story by Maura Judkis: Ball pits were gross even before the pandemic. Will we ever dive in again?
Asking a stranger to take our photo
“Of course, we shouldn’t jeopardize our health for an endorphin rush and a keepsake. Previously, I never hesitated when asked, ‘Do you mind …?’ With the number of infections rising, maybe I should. But I hope the wariness is temporary: I do not want another human link to break, nor do I want to see vacation photos transform into an album of head shots.”
Read our full story by Andrea Sachs: Should asking a stranger to take your photo go the way of the daguerreotype?
This story has been updated.