What's the Worst Activity You'd Tolerate if You Could Do It Without Masks?

For a no-COVID experience, are you desperate enough to go to a coworker's improv show? See a movie next to someone openly listening to a podcast? Go to a third bar after 2 a.m.?
Would you tolerate someone holding up a smartphone in front of your face at a concert in order to capture an obnoxiously bad-quality clip?
Adam Bentley @adambentleydesign via Unsplash

Over the course of the pandemic, a popular round-the-campfire prompt emerged: What’s the first thing you’re gonna do when you get out? I appreciate the buoyant appeal of open fantasizing about exciting activities as much as the next guy, but quarantine is dragging and I think we need a better challenge. 


So this question is a little more of a brain-teaser: What is the worst activity you would endure if attending it meant it would happen as normal, with no masks, social distancing, or risk of an infection with a virus that might leave you struggling to catch your breath after walking up a couple flights of stairs and no sense of smell or taste?

I posed this question to Twitter on Sunday, offering up my own so-far-best answers: “standing for the two hours between when the doors for a concert open and any bands actually start playing” and “Union Pool [a notoriously-messy-in-appearance-and-conduct NYC club] but only after 2am.” In reply I received some real ringers. These are activities that I agree, really, really suck in normal life. But if going meant I could go without a mask, I would kiss the improv show MC/industry happy hour organizer/TSA agent manning the security line on both cheeks. 

(While some interpreted this question as a Fear-Factor gauntlet style “what torture would you accept in order to have normal life back?” I must note that, while I admire the creativity, this was not the intent of the question; I want to hear only the worst activity you would do IF that activity itself were magically safe to do normally.)

Here are some of the best answers so far. 

In the event of a party where you don’t know anyone, at least you will get to scream at each other how great it is to not be in a pandemic anymore. 


We actually miss movies so much we miss the people who will never understand that they’re in a movie theater. 

Imagine us clapping, celebrating, crying, and hugging between the security the nylon ropes of an airport security line, telling a TSA agent “I’m so happy to see you.” 

Lost in the seamless advent of telemedicine during the pandemic has been the tyranny of doctors’ waiting rooms. Now that doctors have shown their hand in terms of how it’s still possible to treat people without the waiting rooms, I plan to dial in to every appointment possible. 

Networking happy hours were an extremely common answer including from Motherboard editorial director Jason Koebler; strange that there are so many of them and yet absolutely no one wants to be there.

I’m sorry to all the folks who are eagerly awaiting their next opportunity to complete their Improv 101 class and invite all their friends to the final show. The upside is, post-quarantine, it will be the first such show anyone is absolutely thrilled to be at, including Motherboard writer Gita Jackson.

There were many airport answers: a flight with extremely spotty wifi, waiting 35 minutes in an extremely hot bridge to board.

I’m with Tom; I will go to every dreaded second location if I can be there with no mask, not standing outside in a negative two degree windchill, trying to have a conversation from six feet away with the first person I’ve seen in several weeks. 

But perhaps the scariest question of all is, in which cases would you actually be fine continuing to stay home?