My oral hygiene has gotten spectacular during this pandemic. At this point, I brush my teeth two to three times a day and floss and mouthwash almost every night. My dentist should reward me with a gold star and an extra tube of mini toothpaste the next time I see them.

It’s not that my oral habits were awful before. I usually brushed twice a day, but like so many things in the past year, my rhythms and habits have changed.

I sleep before midnight most evenings. I rarely eat out and I don’t order often. I sometimes go days without leaving home. I usually only drink once a week and it is mostly drunk outdoors on weekends. I sing strange songs to myself about food in the fridge … OK, this part isn’t new.

I used to actually work from home, but as a counterbalance to my health, I went out three to four nights a week. From art shows at 111 Minna to concerts at Bottom of the Hill to talking to old rummies at Specs, there was always something to do (damn, sometimes I did it all in one night). Add to that the food in late-night places like Taqueria Cancun, where I had at least a few drinks every night and stayed up until 1 or 2 a.m. As Dr. Cho can attest, I definitely didn’t floss every night.

Now that we’re nearing the point where I’m fully vaccinated (I’ll be looking at you in mid-May) and the California timeline opens fully again for June 15, I wonder how much I’ll go back to my previous ones Because of.

I mean, right now I want everything. I want a hedonistic frenzy of pub carousels and camp parties outside of business hours. I want a good excuse to stay up until sunrise and then spend the next two days eating Little Star Pizza in bed while I binge Law & Order: SVU. I want house parties, lots of them. I want to dance to music that I wouldn’t have tolerated before just because I can rave about my face again. At this point, I’d literally shake my ass to horrific top 40 songs on Ruby Skye if that godforsaken thing were still around, and I hated this place.

But after that, as soon as I’ve got the initial excitement out of my system. I wonder how much I’ll go out.

I’ve always been a pretty big extrovert, as I’ve gotten older it’s definitely gotten a little less. And I’ve found since the semi-isolation triggered by the pandemic that this is more the case.

Like these days, when I walk down the street and recognize someone, despite their mask, I am far less likely to stop and chat with them. It’s not necessarily social anxiety, it just seems like trying to figure out how to make small talk again. I used to be very good at small talk, but even that can get rusty after a year and a change of pandemic.

There has been a lot of conversation and dozens of articles about how the pandemic has affected people’s lives. Depression rates are skyrocketing, the sex lives of single and married people are devastated, survivors’ guilt is plentiful, alcohol consumption is rampant, and yes, some people have started using mouthwash before bed.

But I’m curious to see how much all of this will stay with us when the world returns to normal. You know how when they cut down old trees and how scientists can tell from the lines in the trunk when a traumatic ecological catastrophe has occurred on earth? We will all have the human equivalent of these lines from this pandemic.

Which scars are permanent and which heal? Which of the things that we thought were the basic principles of who we are will be changed forever by this trauma? Are you going to come out introverted? Will you come out drunk Are you going to come out as a new single? Are you going to marry the roommate you hit all along?

At some point in February or March 2020, the whole world suddenly had to answer: “What do we do when the unthinkable happens?” and now for the first time we have to ask ourselves, “Well, what happens after that?”

It looks like we’re about to find out.

Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, television presenter, and poet. Follow him on and subscribe to his mailing list at He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the reviewer.

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