I am a huge “Saturday Night Live” fan. I’ve been watching since the late ’90s when I was in high school. I even have a ritual for my Saturday nights when I go out. I’ll stop to get a snack on my way home and then start the DVRed version of that night’s episode and watch until Weekend Update. Then, I go to bed and finish the rest of the episode on Sunday morning during breakfast.

One of the most memorable bits for me is the first show back after 9/11. At the end of the opening, Lorne Michaels appears on stage with then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and first responders.

Lorne asks the Mayor, “Is it okay to be funny?”

Without missing a beat, Giuliani responds, “Why start now?”

Almost 20 years later, we find ourselves battling another crisis. Instead of a terrorist attack, it’s a global pandemic with an invisible terrorist. Nearly 200,000 people have died and millions have had their lives forever changed. For the last six months businesses have been closed, schools have gone virtual, graduations were delayed, and instead of attempting to have close contact for any kind of special events, we have marked milestones with these drive-by parades.

Summer has come and gone – remember when this all started, we foolishly thought it would be six weeks. Schools are back in session – both in-person and virtually. Restaurants and businesses are starting to slowly open back up with specific and strict CDC regulations. People are getting antsy. So, is it okay to start trying to venture back into the water and celebrate?

As you know, every year I have a birthday party. This year I had no intention of closing down streets or attempting to get a permit, like last year’s festivities. Although let’s be honest, this would have been the perfect year for that party theme – outside in the middle street, so everyone could be socially distant.

But I have been going through an existential crisis. I am a Virgo, so apparently, I am prone to these and I can spiral pretty easily. Like, legit, if spiraling were an Olympic sport, Michael Phelps would have nothing on the number of gold medals I would have won. On the one hand, we are in the middle of a pandemic and we all have to be doing our part to not get each other killed. But on the other hand, could it be okay to a stripped-down smaller celebration with it done responsibly? Give people a reason to have fun for a night.

So, I set out to find a way to do it.

What I settled on was a rest and relaxation party. I hired a friend to give chair massages and another friend to offer tarot readings. Relaxation face masks will be given out as party favors. The menu will consist of everyone’s favorite comfort foods – pizza, mozzarella sticks, pigs in a blanket, shrimp cocktail, and chips with dip. This year, calories don’t count for anyone, so lets just eat yummy foods.

Face masks can be worn during the party or not, I am leaving it up to each person based on their comfort level.  However, I am asking that if anyone is feeling remoting ill to stay home and to take their temperature that day before coming. These won’t prevent all possible issues, but it should make the chances small for anything to spread. The last thing I would want is to be the reason for a cluster to break out, or worse to cause someone to get seriously ill or worse.

Outside of the petri dishes that we call college campuses, the infection rate in Philadelphia is actually pretty low. It’s been averaging a under 100 infections per day, even with the college students factored in. If we were in an area that was a hot spot, I definitely wouldn’t even consider having anything. But in a city of over a million people, having less than 100 new infections per day seems pretty small. If people take the proper pre-cautions, we should be okay. No anti-maskers were invited.

But, like Josh Hartnett says in “Halloween: H20” when he decides to celebrate his first Halloween after 17 years, despite having a psychotic serial kill in the family, “There comes a point in your life where you have to concentrate on what’s right about it.”

This, of course, does lead to half of his friends being slaughtered by his serial killer uncle. I’m hoping for a slightly better result with a much lower body count. Wish me luck!

Padraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome.  His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

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