I Went Out Drinking In Boston For The First Time In Months And Here’s What I Learned About Adjusting To Our New Reality

Boston Skyline with Financial District and Boston Harbor at Dusk


Like many mid-twenties males, I spent many of my pre-quarantine weekends bar hopping. Those glorious weekends came to an abrupt halt after St. Patrick’s Day weekend, which was “canceled” in Southie.

Mayor Marty Walsh canceled the parade, but that’s quite literally the only thing that was canceled for that weekend. Bars were mobbed on that Saturday and it seemed every apartment within earshot threw a party on what would have been parade day, Sunday.

All the Patagonia wearing retired frat star residents (myself included) of South Boston had a couple of hundred pints and pretended to be Irish for the day. Little did we know, that was our last chance to wet the beak at the local watering hole.

After roughly three months of getting inappropriately drunk on the couch, restaurants are reopening, and people are ready to get SOCIAL. Don’t tell anyone, but quarantine/distancing was canceled in Southie once the sun came out. This was M Street Beach a few weeks ago:

M Street Boston Weekend

via Jed Kiley

Even though it’s on a limited capacity, all outdoor seating, and no inter-table mingling allowed, I’m excited to have the option to go to restaurants again. Seems like most places around here are opting for the picnic table approach – basically, find a vacant area/parking lot, set up a bunch of picnic tables, and vwa-lah.

I mean fuck, I could do that in my backyard – I kind of already do. Friends come over after the beach, they sit on my deck, I cook them burgers…I’m basically running my very own non-profit restaurant.


Anyways, I spent my Saturday afternoon at Shenanigans and enjoyed a few spicy margs.

I never felt like I was being peppered with rules, just a few basic requests – wear a mask upon arrival (can remove once seated), don’t table-hop, and wear a mask when using the bathroom. Some places require that you order food.

Simple enough.

I believe the max per table was six people. A group of six friends, good food, solid drinks…you could stick me on the goddamn moon and I’d still have fun.

My only complaint about Shenanigans was they didn’t play music. You have a parking lot/picnic table/tailgate vibe going and you’re not playing music???

Can’t say that applies to everywhere, but c’mon. We settled with playing a Spotify playlist from our phone.

The real question is how will this all look once bars open for real. I’m talking standing room only bars.

There were no tables. Just find a patch of real estate by the bar and hang out.

Once the floodgates really start opening, and old friends reunite for the first time in a long time, I’m anticipating a few of these:


How do we all say hello to our friends in the time of Covid?

If it looks like someone is going in for a handshake, you have a few options to dodge the social dumpster fire heading your way. Here are your options:

Lean into it

Intentionally make it awkward in an attempt to make a joke out of the whole thing. As long as the other person catches on, social disaster is avoided. This is a win for both parties involved.


Tommy from down the street comes in for a nice firm handshake. Tommy is a real guy’s guy with some big ole’ paws. A handshake from him will simultaneously break your hand and give you corona.

He reaches forward, you slightly extend your hand. Just as your hands are about to connect, you hit him with a dab.


The whole bar erupts in laughter, and you’ll likely drink for free that day.

Shake the hand

Just bite the bullet. I’d sneakily admire someone who is willing to risk corona to avoid an awkward handshake.

And then immediately wash or sanitize that sucker.

And what does this mean for all the hopeless romantics looking to find love at the bar???

Tough to have an engaging conversation from six feet away. I’m thinking we may revert back to our middle school selves and pass notes again.

Long story short, embrace the limited capacity openings of your favorite spots to keep them afloat. If someone goes in for a handshake, hit ‘em with a dab, and love notes are officially BACK.


Jed Kiley is a South Boston-based writer known for elite prose and deceptive quickness. Covers sports and entertainment. Reach out via Twitter.