Join Us! Three Invitations to Pandemic-Era Forms of Forced Socialization

Join Us! Obligatory and Demoralizing Zoom Office Happy Hour

Hello, hello! We’re O.F.H.H.O.C. (pronounced Ohh, fhock!), the Office Friendship and Happy Hour Organizing Committee. We’re here to remind you how a mandatory happy hour for which you purchase your own booze and stare into the Zoom void at detested colleagues is never going to replace the pleasure of various pre-pandemic activities. We knew COVID had been dragging on too long when, at our latest gathering, you brought your 22-pound tabby cat on camera, panicked, and exclaimed, “Wait! Before I introduce Truffle, is anyone allergic to cats? I have an EpiPen!”

You are jonesing for those pre-COVID days of real human connection. Like the casual sexism, racism, and classism of being selected by a perfect stranger in a café to watch his laptop so the laptop can save his seat while he urinates. A flashback:

[He spots you from across the room. You look trustworthy (young, white, middle class, drinking an oat milk latte). You two lock eyes, and exchange a knowing nod. He approaches you. You agree. You enter into a social contract from which there is no turning back. He gets a slight thrill, a tingle, even, as he enters the bathroom, stands over the urinal, unzips his pants, and wonders, “Will she safeguard my most prized possession? Will she so enjoy keeping watch over my laptop while I relieve myself of the three hibiscus iced teas I consumed in under an hour, that we end up fucking within 30 minutes of me leaving this bathroom? Will we end up fucking inside this bathroom? But wait!” he gasps, “then who will watch my laptop?!”]

Thursday, 6:15 pm. It’s not human connection, but embrace it as a mediocre and burdensome substitute. (Breakout rooms organized according to your favorite Law & Order: SVU cast member!)

Join Us! Virtual Hot Yoga For Your Mental Hygiene

Hiya! It’s your friendly neighborhood yoga studio. The one that you avoid walking past because your soul is crushed by the mere sight of 12 people gathered in a room to braid their limbs like a dozen miniature challahs. We are now livestreaming classes daily, you lucky duck. 5:45 am is hot yoga, so leave that steamy shower running, down some raw habanero peppers on an empty stomach, and let’s get moving! During these unprecedented times, there is never an excuse for neglecting self-care.

And, by “self-care” we do not mean faux meditation to steady your mind while you sob, contemplate the imminent demise of the Kim-Kanye empire, and sneak eat a jumbo bag of CBD-infused chickpea puffs as part of your “intermittent fasting” cycle.

We take a more rigorous approach. By “self-care,” we mean we are here to teach you that yes, you are inadequately flexible. You were not flexible that one time you came to a class in our large, teak-paneled, sun-filled, waterfall-surrounded studio. You are still not flexible in that five-foot-long, two-foot-wide open slab of floor space in the childhood bedroom you have moved back into, as you struggle to lift your legs above your head to do Happy Baby pose while the dog breathes on your face and the cat walks over to smell your butt. (Sometimes, self-care is just knowing when to give up. Namaste.)

Join Us! 11th Floor Neighbors’ Hallway Mingle

We, your neighbors in 11B, invite you to a socially distanced, floor-wide, awkward get-together outside the elevators! We know, you’re thinking, “But I so enjoy our intermittent run-ins outside the garbage room, when our routines converge despite best efforts to avoid each other. We ask, ‘and how are you holding up?’ while our darting eyes peer out over our masks and through our fogged-up glasses. We talk loudly at one another, fueled by the naïve conviction that the louder we raise our voices, the more they will drown out the smell of used diapers, soiled cat litter, and a six-day-old, thrice re-microwaved Trader Joe’s bibimbap bowl.”

Those are cherished moments. But, we’ve decided that some formal interaction would do us all good. It’s during isolated times like these when you fondly remember high school reunions with drugs courtesy of that one rich guy from your year who no one likes and who thinks he is Elon Musk. Elon 2 always had the best weed and, like the real Elon, tells people he was instrumental in creating the driverless car. (He used the family chihuahua, Trixie, to put weight on the gas as he sat in the passenger seat of his father’s Bentley. The Bentley crashed into the hot tub. Trixie recovered. But ever since, Elon 2 has meandered with a deranged look in his eyes, telling everyone he created the internet. You have to remind him gently: “no, Elon 2, that was Al Gore.”)

We will convene on Sunday afternoon, along with the cockroaches who are en route to their stairwell lair. (The ones who have always been here, but you are convinced they are new arrivals because you are spending so much more time in this goddamn fucking decrepit building.) See you sooooon!

Disclaimer: No office workers, yogis, or 11th floor neighbors were harmed in the writing of these invitations.

Carly A. Krakow is a writer, freelance journalist, editor, and activist based in New York City. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she has moved back in with her cat, Markie. Markie has generously agreed to share his room with her at a reasonable rate. She is on Twitter @CarlyKrakow.

One comment

  1. […] just can’t throw you outJennifer Shneiderman is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Indolent Book’s HIV Here and Now, The Rubbertop Review, the Poetry in the Time of COVID-19, Vol 2, anthology, Variant Literature, Bright Flash Literary Review, Wingless Dreamer and Trouvaille Review. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferShneid3. […]

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