After 95694845 days of quarantine (I lost count), our collective #QuarantineClub efforts have not been in vain. And now I’m actually seeing other humans IRL (yay!) out and about. We’re getting our lives back in this so-called “new normal” and cautiously doing all right in Phase 3 with non-essential businesses opening up. Parts of New York are allegedly even entering Phase 4, but that seems too good to be true.
The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be within our reach, but remember—it’s a marathon, not a sprint. All things considered, we can keep up our momentum so long as a few bad apples don’t f*ck over the entire cart. Unfortunately, parts of the U.S. are experiencing just that—sheer amounts of stupidity (i.e. COVID-19 parties… seriously, WTF Alabama??).
Extreme cases aside, I understand that at this point, you’re saying to yourself “omg, I’m so over COVID-19. O-VeR. IT.” And I get it. 2020 is canceled. The pandemic was not exactly what we wanted for summer. But think about how the frontline workers must feel? My close friend Mira MacLeod, a Registered Nurse who works in the COVID-19 ward of a major Toronto hospital (which was also the same converted facility used to treat the first SARS patients) said, “hell (lol) I’M OVeR IT. If anyone has COVID fatigue, it’s me, girl.”
So for her sake and for every one of these caregiving heroes, when it comes to our collective health, reckless behavior is inexcusable. In fact, it’s NOT okay when you decide to be a d*ck by not wearing a mask in a shared public space and jeopardize the lives of others. Additionally, I honestly feel like the warm weather must be frying off some of the common sense in some people’s brains. I guess when you throw sunny skies and balmy weather into the mix, it’s like everyone suddenly forgot that there’s still a deadly pandemic in our presence which, may I remind you, still has the power to come back to bite us again (like it did to South Korea and their second wave) and force us back into our homes.
Do the people begging for stuff to reopen not realize that means having to wear a bra on a regular basis?
— The Salty Mamas (@saltymamas) May 17, 2020
In light of people filling up their social calendars once again and taking to the city streets, the Department of Health released some guidelines on how we can all be safe when gathering together and dining out. However, what these documents neglect to state or inform us about is how the heck these rules will be consistently enforced. Mayor Bill de Blasio is essentially telling us all of this is based on “trust” and calling people out when you see them breaking the rules. Basically like “if you see something, say something.” While that’s definitely one way of approaching it, despite reporting the situation, the damage will have already been done.
Dr. Sidney Chiu, an emergency doctor at North York General Hospital, reminds us that we must each do our part and continue to take initiatives in safeguarding our community. Furthermore, we made it this far in flattening the curve—let’s not f*ck it up folks! Here are useful guidelines to keep in mind:
When In Doubt, Wear A Mask
MacLeod says that if you want to be safe, you should wear a mask indoors—even if the business doesn’t state that it’s mandatory. “You should be wearing one in confined spaces like at the grocery store, on the transit system, or at a retail store—places where you’re touching a lot of things.” You should be wearing disposable rubber and/or plastic gloves for this as well (think clothing items, transit railing, etc).
Wear A Mask When Walking On The Sidewalk
MacLeod says her major pet peeve is when people don’t walk around each other on the sidewalk: “It irks me that some just don’t care and/or take liberties. They walk by you in close proximity, and this is particularly troublesome when there are small children nearby.” As a mom of two kids, this is especially triggering for her. So she advises that when you see someone approaching, go around them, if you can. Remember, social distancing means you should be six feet apart, which is further than you think.
There Is Still NO Vaccine
“Just based on how I’m seeing some people behave, I think many believe that the pandemic has mostly passed—and that’s certainly not the situation. The reality is that although we’ve passed the first wave, we are constantly at risk of new cases,” MacLeod says. She adds that precautionary measures should be as routine as checking for your wallet, phone and keys before leaving the house. “A mask, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer (making sure that it contains 60-95 percent alcohol), and disinfecting wipes should all be a part of your ‘toolkit,’” which means that these items should be considered part of your “new normal” for the foreseeable future. If you’re forgetful, a good strategy is to set up a daily pop-up alert on your phone to remind yourself of these essential items. Or consider keeping it all in a stylish bag near your door.
No Hugging Or Shaking Hands
“This is tough, understandably, because we are by nature, social creatures,” explains Dr. Chiu. He adds that “in lieu of physical touching, air hugs/air high fives, or toe tapping is better than exposing any part of your body to someone else. You just don’t want to run the risk.” As a friendly reminder, he says that COVID-19 is spread through droplets and/or physical contact. “Just think that when you’re embracing someone and that close face-to-face, any number of things could happen: coughing, sneezing—even talking and breathing could aid in transmission.” He adds that what could then theoretically occur is that even though it appears that “nothing happened” during the hug, since you effectively touched that person, you could then absentmindedly touch your mouth, nose and eyes, thereby spreading the virus.
Just Because They “Look Healthy” Doesn’t Mean They Are
“We always assume there are obvious visual cues to someone being ill. However this is certainly not the case when someone is asymptomatic and can transmit the virus to you,” says Dr. Chiu, who adds that these individuals may not even be aware they have COVID-19. “So for your sake, it’s better to err on the side of caution and to wear a mask whatever the social situation may be.” Another scary and not-so-fun fact from him: “the chance of a test detecting COVID-19 is very low if you are asymptomatic, and it is unlikely to be helpful in determining if you have COVID-19 if you have zero symptoms.”
Invest In Anti-Technology For Your Sunnies
Dr. Chiu says that “I’ve heard some people complain about their sun/glasses getting fogged up due to the mask wearing.” To remedy this, he says to do the following: “mold your mask to the bridge of your nose, tighten the mask, or simply invest in some anti-fog spray or wipes which will do the trick nicely (and you should be prepping all of this before you leave your home).” This is an overlooked issue but an important one, and he explains that “you want to minimize the amount of time touching your face. If your glasses are fogged/smudged, etc and you’re constantly readjusting them, you’re increasing your chances of exposure.”
Invest In An Automatic Soap Dispenser
When returning home, immediately wash your hands with hot soapy water before doing anything else (the CDC advises you do this within 20 seconds of entering your home.). To avoid contamination, MacLeod advises people to get one of those automated hand soap dispensers.” Additionally, she says that bar soaps are a big no-no because bacteria and germs CAN survive on them (ewwww).
And in terms of venturing out in the world à la Oh, The Places You’ll Go Post-Pandemic (!), here are a few tips and best practices to be mindful of in the following social scenarios:
If available to you, always opt to use the restaurant’s QR code, which allows you to see the menu on your smartphone rather than touching paper. An exception to this is if you have a visual impairment and require a hard copy.
Wearing a mask while dining in a patio/restaurant space isn’t required (cuz um, how else can you eat that food if your mouth is covered?!); however, you should absolutely wear one when walking to your table and using well-ventilated washroom facilities (which are 99% of the time located inside of a confined restaurant space).
Another food-related issue is regarding pick-up and take-out: you just grab the order and go. Don’t linger and/or congregate on the sidewalks.
The CDC recommends that if you’re welcoming people into your home for, say, a BBQ cookout (specifically an outdoor space like the backyard) to consider keeping a guestbook of attendees for contact tracing needs. Disposable but recycle-friendly cutlery, plates, and cups should be used in lieu of the silverware you have at home.
Both Dr. Chiu and MacLeod say that if you can, visit these spaces on a weekday when it’s less crowded. “Because it’s an outdoor setting, it’s technically safer than, say, a shopping mall because these types of places are conducive to offering more room and fresh air.” For any communal seating (such as park benches and beach chairs), use hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes prior to use.
Individual Appointments (Including, But Not Limited To, Dental And Medical Offices, Nail Salons, And Hair Salons)
Ensure that it’s not a walk-in situation, and whenever possible, book your appointment in advance. If you’re feeling uncertain, ask what sorts of protocols the business or service has implemented, such as adequate HEPA filters/ventilation, PPEs, and plexiglass barriers to minimize the risk of exposure. When you do arrive for your appointment, wait outside and arrange for the staff to text or give you a call when they’re ready for you. Lastly, if you know you have to fill out any documentation, bring your own pen—don’t use the communal ones supplied at the office/salon.
With all the news and Karen-shaming, I’d like to think that the majority of us are better than that. However, we’re all human and can still be prone to slipping up once in a while. So I recommend screenshotting this handy color-coded infographic to act as your “pocket guide” if you are ever uncertain about venturing into a specific social situation. It’s nice that we can FINALLY see our loved ones IRL again, so let’s not take any of it for granted and remember to be considerate of each other by adhering to these practical and safe protocols.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been tracking macros on MyFitnessPal. Initially, I was doing it to try and get back on Keto. (By “back on,” I mean I did it for two weeks before a vacation once.) Unsurprisingly, I bailed on Keto (nothing is low-carb enough!!!). and I then decided my #newyearnewme would be about counting macros instead. I’m currently using this calculator, which I found via this highly reliable fitness Instagram. I’m not even being sarcastic—there’s very good advice on there. My biggest challenge with macros so far has definitely been keeping my fat content in check. Within a week, I realized I knew way less about which foods are high fat than I thought. For example, I had a day of what I considered very healthy eating (salads! oats! grain bowls!), and then discovered my diet had been 60% fat. And this is why I have trust issues. So, I did some research into which of my “healthy” choices were causing that high fat content. I’m not talking about obvious fats—you should all know that baked goods are full of bad fats and avocados are full of good fats. These are the sources of fat you’re not as likely to guess as, say, a fried chicken sandwich or a BLT with mayo.
Disclaimer: Everyone’s dietary needs are different, and many diets may call for higher fat content. I am not advocating for a universal low-fat diet, so do not come for me. Rather, I am hoping this information may be illuminating to some of you (read: I don’t want to be the only one who didn’t already know all this).
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really known a lot about the nutrition content of falafel. It felt like a kind of dietary gray zone. Not as healthy as a vegetable, but probably better than cheese. Right? Not really. While trying to design a low-fat grain bowl at Tender Greens, I was pretty shocked to see that the steak topping was lower in fat than the falafel option. While falafel can be a healthy dish (the ingredients themselves are nutrient-rich), I’d somehow forgotten that it’s typically deep-fried. This adds, in scientific terms, a sh*t ton of fat to your meal. FWIW, the “baked falafel” option at Tender Greens was way healthier—but unless a menu specifies “baked,” you should assume it’s deep fried, and therefore higher in fat.
Tofu is a similar deal to falafel—it’s all about how it’s prepared. While tofu isn’t deep-fried quite as often as falafel (though still more often than you’d think), it’s really good at soaking up whatever it’s cooked in. And given that tofu on its own has just about zero flavor (it’s okay, we can all admit that), it’s usually cooked in a bunch of oils, sauces, etc. So tofu on its own? Low-fat, healthy option. But the way it’s usually prepared in restaurants can make it a higher-fat option than something like chicken.
Okay, this one errs more on the side of “foods we knew were high in fat.” But take a minute and actually consider how many “healthy options” feature nuts as a key ingredient. Protein bars that pride themselves on not adding sugar? Full of nuts. Overnight oats? Probably filled with nut butter (or WTF are you doing). Even a lot of salads and bowls will add nuts as a topping, plus, almonds are constantly touted as the ideal mid-afternoon snack. We also all know the problem with nuts—they are impossible to portion for how calorie-dense and fat-dense they are. And anyone who says they’re full after 6 almonds is a dirty liar.
So, while nuts are full of technically good fats, it’s still super easy to go over on your fat content goals if all the healthy options you’re choosing are nut-heavy. So if my breakfast included 2 tbsp of almond butter (18 grams of fat and it never feels like enough), maybe I don’t also have have a nut-based Lara Bar at 4pm (9 grams of fat), and snack on nuts at 6pm (19 grams of fat). That brings my fat content from nuts alone (not even the fun fats, like sauces and cheese and sugar) to 46 grams, when my daily goal is 48. (Let it be known that my total fat content for that day wound up being 90+ grams. This sh*t is hard!!!)
I know! I said this list would be about non-obvious sources of fat. Yet here I am basically listing the liquid form of fat and saying “surprise! This is fat.” Sue me, but also listen because this is probably the #1 thing that people forget to count in their diets. One tablespoon of olive oil has 14 grams of fat. One tablespoon of butter has 12 grams of fat. (The type of fat they offer is different. Here is a long article on different fats and how they affect you.) Even at home, I struggle to cook something edible using less than 2 tbsp of one of these. It can be super tempting to just log the one chicken breast you cooked in there, but unless you’re using a cooking spray, you have to account for the fats it absorbed.
Well, that’s the end of my tirade on fat, and now I never want to look at a nutrition label again! Remember, the worst thing you can do with your diet is eat in a way that makes you miserable, because you know that sh*t won’t last. My fat content is still way too high most days, but I’m figuring out what a low-fat day I can live with looks like. At least it’s not Keto!
With first dates come lots of nerves and pressure. You want to look cute, but not like you tried too hard. You want to seem interested so he asks you out again, but you don’t want to look desperate. With all these things on your mind, what you’re going to eat on the date is definitely the last thing you’re thinking about, but it shouldn’t be. What you order at the restaurant says a lot about you. But don’t worry, here’s a list of the worst foods to eat on a date so you’ll be prepared.
1. Side Salad
If you want to look like someone who eats like a rabbit, then go right ahead. Most restaurants have plenty of acceptable menu items for if you’re trying to lose three pounds, but just a side salad is not one of them. If you’re just ordering a side salad to go next to your water because you’re worried about the cost, then maybe going on a date at a restaurant isn’t for you. Besides, you don’t want to set expectations for your relationship that you don’t eat and you won’t cost him a lot. We both know neither of those are true.
2. The Most Expensive Thing On The Menu
Being overly cautious about what your meal will cost your date (assuming he’s paying) isn’t the best way to go about ordering on a date. But also, purposefully ordering the most expensive thing on the menu as some sort of test is not a cute look either. Unless you’ve already talked about ordering some famous special dish, don’t go for the most expensive item. You don’t want him to know how high-maintenance and pricey you are. Keep that on the DL until at least the third date.
3. Ribs Or Wings
I don’t think there is anyone on planet Earth who can come out of a dinner after eating ribs or chicken wings without looking like an animal. My boyfriend admitted to me that he still won’t eat ribs in front of me because he’s afraid I’d be so turned off. In my opinion, there are some things that you don’t need to share with your SO, and the murder scene you leave behind after a rib fest is definitely one of them.
Specifically, maki rolls are the worst foods to eat on a date. Either the roll is too big to fit in your mouth, so you end up biting it in half and it falls apart, or you stuff it all in at once and look like a chipmunk. Both options are less than ideal.
I don’t think I have ever left an Italian restaurant without some sort of pasta sauce on me. Similar to ribs, there is no ladylike way to eat spaghetti that will make your date think “Damn, I want to sleep with her rn.” How one is able to eat pasta without the slurping noise *gag* is beyond me. If Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray Love couldn’t take a mouthful of spaghetti without looking like a slob, then you definitely can’t.
Images: Giphy (2)
Okay fam, this was a traumatizing fun one. I polled every straight man I could find for this article on guys’ biggest turn-offs, which nearly cost me both my job and my relationship. (Pro tip: Don’t ask your boyfriend this type of question unless you enjoy picturing them with other women. I, as it turns out, do not. Live and learn.) Because guys can sometimes miss the nuance in certain questions, I got a lot of useless answers like “throwing up” or “peeing,” which I’ve chosen to exclude. I trust my v sophisticated readers to understand that bodily fluids intended for the toilet are a turn-off in bed, unless you are expressly into that. Instead, I’ve listed the five stories below that made me go “oh shit, have I done that??” Read on, and sorry in advance.*
*Disclaimer: Sexual preferences are obviously different for everybody; what you read here does not necessarily apply to your situation. (But like, it probably does.) Also, names have been changed to protect the perverts I polled innocent men volunteering their stories.
1. Acting Like A Porn Star
One guy we’ll call Jason, 25, shared this story. During sex (which was otherwise fine/good), the woman was working overtime to make it clear she was enjoying herself. Like, violently extended eye contact, over-the-top moaning, frequent references to his dick and its capabilities. To top this all off, they finish up and she has cum sticking to her body—which she then proceeds to WIPE OFF WITH HER FINGER AND EAT. At this point, Jason “nearly vomited”. While I’m hoping I don’t have any cum snackers in the audience, there’s a larger lesson here. Being enthusiastic/into it? Good. Emulating a porn star to the point where you put yourself on a dick-and-semen-only diet, just because you think the guy’s into it? BAD. Again, if you enjoy the taste of semen, go crazy: it may help you live longer. But remember that what guys watch doesn’t always line up with what they actually want. And for god’s sake, remember that you also have wants that should be filled. Specifically, wants that don’t involve eating cum.
2. Letting Your Pet Watch
Ok yeah, this one isn’t all that mindblowing. But a surprising number of guys either referenced this or vehemently agreed when I mentioned it as an example. So I figured I’d include it. While owning a dog is an excellent life move, both for your Hinge profile pictures and general well-being, your precious pup does not have a place in the bedroom. (Don’t even get me started on cats. Though TBH if someone came over knowing there was a cat there, who knows what they’re into.) For reasons I still can’t quite figure out, 7/10 dudes have a traumatizing experience of being mid-sex, looking up, and locking eyes with your four-legged friend. Ladies. LADIES. What are we doing?? How do 7/10 of us not know this is not acceptable? I’ll take this time to quote Panic! At The Disco, and chime in with a “haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door”??
Please do not let your pet stay in the room while you have sex, or I will be forced to call the authorities.
3. Not Cleaning Up Down There
I’m just going to paste the texts I got about this one here. The whole situation makes me sad and I don’t have the emotional strength to re-word it myself. Here it is, in its unfiltered glory:
“Once I was fuckin a girl and she had a huge dark thick singular hair popping out… It was staring me in the face the whole time. I couldn’t finish.” – Adam, 26
“Little bits of toilet paper in the butthole or vagina area HUGE turnoff.” – Dan, 24
“Pustules in the face when eating out a girl. That’s a definite turnoff.” – Will, 28
Ok let’s unpack this!! First of all, yes, I associate with degenerates. These are partly things that you can avoid, and partly evidence that men watch too much porn and still expect women have Barbie vaginas. So women should LOOK like porn stars, but never act like them (see #1). Got it. BRB, walking off a cliff. Specifically, I’m guessing “pustules” are referring to ingrown hairs and not an active STD, which is so sad. (If it was the latter, then fine.) It means the woman in question was actually making an effort to be hairless, and suffered an unavoidable consequence.
If there’s a lesson here—and I’m not sure there is— maybe make sure you don’t have anything really pus-y (pun INTENDED) before having someone go down on you. Or like, do it anyway because eating you out is a privilege and a gift. Same goes for the whole “singular hair” comment—you can either do a quick run with tweezers, or decide you don’t give a fuck. Up to you.
My least favorite by far is the whole toilet paper thing—that does kind of seem on the woman to control. Like, you’d be pissed if you went down on a guy and got a mouthful of Charmin too. (Slash terrified because why was he using toilet paper on his penis. Is it an Usher/greenish discharge situation?? I’m sorry. I’m disgusting.) Anyway, this one felt worth noting because it’s very possible you’ve done it and not known. Aaaaand now I have yet another thing to add to my list of things to worry about before sex. Cool.
I include this with a word of caution, though. I had a shitty high school boyfriend who told me to go “wash myself” before every time we had sex, and it was fucked up and scarring. Know that there’s a line between being polite and being made to feel like your genitals are gross. Don’t have sex with guys who cross that line.
4. Making A Sex Schedule
This one came from a guy who’s in a long-term relationship (it shows). Specifically, Matt, 27, cited “providing a time bound” as a turn-off. The example he gave was “you need to stop playing video games by 11 if you want to have sex.” As someone with a full-time job, I have to say that an 11pm start time seems generous. But I do understand how treating sex like you’re Monica Geller in wedding planner mode is not exactly hot. For one thing, we already know guys have trouble performing if they’re under any kind of pressure. For another, it really removes any glimmer of the notion that the woman was just spontaneously turned on by you and decided she wanted to have sex.
So, while I understand (and lightly applaud) the impulse, maybe stay away from this practice for both your sakes, unless you’ve both mutually agreed to setting up a schedule to revive a dead bedroom. Otherwise, just have sex when you’re both in the mood. And if that’s not happening frequently enough, you have a different problem from time management to figure out.
Everyone sufficiently scarred? Good! That about fills you in on my last 48 hours. Please don’t think that I’m writing this article as “what you’re doing in bed that’s not getting you a call back.” I am, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, a sexual anthropologist. Whether or not you think these complaints are reasonable, it can’t hurt to know what the enemy the men you’re having sex with are thinking. Well, it can hurt but like, it’s useful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go repair the damage this article caused to my relationship.
Images: Giphy (4); Pexels / Moose Photos (1)