Just a week after public health experts recommended “social distancing,” schools closed and the governor shuttered bars, restaurants and nightclubs to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), South Florida residents are already confronting the isolation that comes with sheltering in place.
Here are 10 suggestions to combat the monotony and boredom that inevitably will arise:
- Nurture your green thumb
Need an excuse to get some fresh air? Spend some time in the garden and stock your bar. Jodi Helmer's new book, “Growing Your Own Cocktails, Mocktails, Teas & Infusions: Gardening Tips and How-To Techniques for Making Artisanal Beverages at Home” shows what leaves, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and roots to grow so you can enjoy them in a refreshing, brand new way. While you’re there, plant some vegetables in case the local Publix gets cleaned out by the starving masses, and avoid any “herbs” that might lead to a police raid.
- Get lost in a good book
We’re currently reading “Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey,” the autobiography of Tony Award-winning choreographer, director and producer Bob Avian. Over a career spanning six decades, Avian collaborated with legendary choreographer and director Michael Bennett, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh. A gay man who calls Fort Lauderdale home during the winter, Avian tells all and pulls no punches. Available at Amazon.com and other booksellers.
- Binge watch a new television show
Thank God for Netflix (and Amazon Video and Hulu and CBS All Access), but right now we’re especially thankful for Netflix and its Spanish murder mystery series “Toy Boy.” The 13-episode saga of Hugo, a male stripper wrongfully imprisoned for murdering his lover’s husband, is an addictive mash-up of “Magic Mike,” “Eyes Wide Shut” and “Dynasty.” It’s campy and kinda predictable, but the ripped man candy more than compensates. You’ll definitely fall for Jairo, a gay hustler with a heart of gold. Watch at netflix.com.
- Take a class
Have you always wanted to learn a foreign language? Well, here’s your chance. Purchase a Rosetta Stone lifetime subscription and the company is making its entire catalog available. Within six or eight weeks, you could speak eight languages just like Pete Buttigieg! Get three months of one language for $11.99 or the unlimited plan for $199 at RosettaStone.com. If cooking is more your thing, Antoni Porowski from Netflix’s “Queer Eye” has launched a cooking tutorial series dubbed “Quar Eye: Cooking Lessons in Quarantine.” Watch the entertaining 10-minute videos, posted daily, at instagram.com/Antoni.
- Appreciate some art
If you’ve ever tried to see the Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in person, then you know that massive crowds and long lines await. But not in the era of coronavirus! Take a virtual tour of the world’s greatest museum without the hassle at Louvre.fr. You can also admire Michaelangelo’s masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at MuseiVaticani.va. And don’t forget the antiquities in the British Museum at ArtsAndCulture.Google.com/Partner/The-British-Museum.
- Visit a park…or a theme park
If gardening wasn’t your thing, you can still commune with nature. Tour one of our nation’s most famous natural environments, Yosemite National Park in California, at VirtualYosemite.org. Or, watch Old Faithful erupt on a virtual tour of Yellowstone National Park at NPS.gov/Yell/Learn/PhotosMultimedia/VirtualTours.htm. If a theme park is more your speed, Jezebel.com offers virtual rides on some of Disney’s most beloved rides, including Space Mountain, It’s a Small World and more — no FastPass required!
- Catch a show
Broadway may be dark, but theater fans can enjoy a good show thanks to BroadwayHD, a pay streaming service that costs $8.99 a month, but currently is offering a free seven-day trial. Watch both previously released and televised classics such as “Cats,” “The King and I” and “The Sound of Music,” plus filmed performances of more recent shows, nearly 300 titles. For opera fans, the Metropolitan Opera is streaming different operas from its Live in HD series each night at 7:30 p.m. The operas will be live on the Met Opera homepage, MetOpera.org, for 20 hours.
- Support local performers
Local cabaret and drag artists are being especially hit hard by the closure of local gay bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Popular cabaret singer Jennifer McClain has taken to Facebook Live for both impromptu and formal sets and the always entrepreneurial Nicole Halliwell has assembled her girls for live streaming shows on March 25 and 27 at QuarantineQueens.net. Check out your favorite local bars on Facebook to see what entertainment they have planned and don’t forget to tip those starving artists using PayPal or Venmo.
- Meet for virtual happy hour
With the advent of smart phones, it’s still shocking to enter a bar only to discover everyone staring down at their shiny screens, instead of enjoying the videos or, God forbid, talking to one another! Now that the bars are closed, here’s the obvious fix: organize a virtual happy hour with your friends and family on the video conferencing app Zoom. Everybody makes a drink at home and then dishes together on their phones or laptops. It’s easy to use and the basic subscription is free at zoom.us.
- There’s always porn
Searching for your next ex-boyfriend on Grindr or Scruff isn’t exactly what the infectious disease doctors ordered, even if there are less than 10 people involved. Fortunately, PornHub is making its premium service available for free at PornHub.com. We won’t need to give you any tips on how to entertain yourself once you’re there, we’re guessing. Good luck!