“Keep your distance. Keep your distance. When I feel you close to me, what can I do but fall?” – Richard Thompson

It’s not always easy to love thy neighbor.

Peering out my second-floor window on Friday night, I discovered that some of my fellow Rockaway residents were acting like it was just another Memorial Day weekend - not exactly “Animal House,” but hardly “My Dinner with Andre.”

In ordinary times, that means lots of beer and loud talk, and plenty of sloppy interaction within six feet of each other on a porch or in a yard. There hasn’t been much of any of those things since March 7 – Rockaway’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade – the last day that most people here gathered together before things started falling apart.

Since then, the peninsula has lost at least 471 people to the coronavirus – with Far Rockaway being one of the worst-hit neighborhoods in the city. And on Friday night, it was almost a mirage of death for some of my neighbors, who were feeling no pain as we entered the holiday weekend.

After not having left the peninsula and following the hazy rules for more than two months, I get it. We are summer people. You could go months without seeing your neighbor, and suddenly you’re waving to them every day as the temperature starts to rise. 

The logic of the quarantine is apparently lost on many of us when a beer and a hug is immediate and someone else’s bad cough is at least a week away. The numbers are plunging in New York City, but it’s fair to worry that people are getting tired of being good citizens and not realizing that their behavior has been reaping rewards.

Be a good neighbor. Open your window. Wave. And toast from afar. 

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