Post-pandemic party was just the ticket for my reclusive habits...

To venture out or not... Colette Sheridan received a post-pandemic party invite
Post-pandemic party was just the ticket for my reclusive habits...

A scene from the film The Great Gatsby. The book summed up the hedonistic lifestyle of the 1920s that followed a pandemic.

IT was touch and go as to whether myself and a friend would attend a post-pandemic party that we were invited to.

We were out of practice at the whole social thing, involving mingling while holding a glass (of water, alas, in my case.)

What would we talk about, given that our lives had become so dull? Wouldn’t we be better off staying at home, watching The Late Late Show?

Therein lies a tale of becoming reclusive, when Ryan Tubridy and guests, on the telly, constitute what passes for a social event from which we are safely removed.

But the telly has become an undemanding friend over the pandemic. You don’t have to speak to it. It’s a purely passive relationship. And switching it off to retreat to the book you’re reading is almost an act of assertion.

It’s saying - I don’t need to watch what some programmers have selected. Nor do I have to go out to have so-called fun. I can entertain myself. I am self-contained. I don’t need other people.

In the before-times, an invitation to a party was always welcome. It was a change from queuing up at a bar counter in some crowded pub of a Friday night or going to a nightclub (do they still exist?) hoping, perhaps, for a little romance or just more gargle.

I have been that soldier and I shudder when I look back at the endless hours spent in dimly lit venues pulsating with music and the mad dancing of over-exuberant night-clubbers fuelled by alcohol. What was all that about?

Obviously, it’s partly an age thing. Maturation means less need to seek out meaningless experiences at clubs after midnight. (I try to go to bed before 11.30pm these days. A time when, in the past, you’d just be coming to life; ready to drink, throw shapes, flirt strategically and generally kill off brain cells via copious amounts of alcohol.)

But worryingly, for stay-at-home-birds like me, life after Covid could lead to a period of a dizzy social whirl similar to the ‘roaring Twenties’, according to a doctor and medical sociologist, Dr Nicholas Christakis.

This former hospice doctor, medical sociologist and professor at Yale University, studies the impact of pandemics.

Speaking to CBC Radio last year, he said that during a pandemic, people become more religious and more risk averse. They spend less money and drink less.

But when the gloomy times are all over, as happened after the 1918 flu pandemic, people loosen up big time.

We’ve had the jazz age and F Scott Fitzgerald’s great novel of that time, The Great Gatsby. What awaits us?

Dr Christakis predicted in 2021 that early 2022 would see us reach herd immunity. The intermediate pandemic period will last a couple of years until 2024. That’s when the post-pandemic period can truly begin, says the doctor.

Once relative normality is achieved, many people will be ready to let their hair down. 

“What typically happens is people get less religious. They will relentlessly seek out social interactions in nightclubs and restaurants and sporting events and political rallies. There’ll be some sexual licentiousness.

“People will start spending their money having saved it. There’ll be joie de vivre and a kind of risk-taking, a kind of efflorescence of the arts, I think.”

In the end, my friend and I went to the party - and it was excellent. Our hosts, a generous sociable couple, seem to know tout le monde.

In a venue that they hired, you could drift in and out of it, with the smokers congregating under outdoor lighting, having the craic. There was food and complimentary wine. And lots of cake, marking some birthdays that had gone uncelebrated during the pandemic.

There was a really good reggae band called Serious Mischief that enticed me to dance. It got me over my inhibition of dancing while sober.

My friend, who is disciplined when it comes to drink, sticking to just the two, nevertheless danced like a dervish. It was that kind of party.

No spring chickens, we carried on as if were decades younger than our actual age. And perhaps that’s the secret to staying young. It’s all to do with your mindset.

So much for not needing other people. That recent party was testament to the importance of keeping up with friends and acquaintances and having fun.

But the thing is, I’m really getting old, because that particular bash will see me right for the next few months. I reached my quota of fun at the party and am now quite happy to revert to the habits of the pandemic.

What that means is more Late Late Shows (which I always end up complaining about) and books and thinking about doing a bit of gardening.

It’s not very rock ‘n roll...

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