Not so many months ago, the coronavirus had yet to hit, and our biggest concern was a possible shortage of White Claw. Then COVID-19 swept across the U.S., with the first cases landing in Dallas in early March.
Now, with hundreds of new cases being reported daily, we're (mostly) confined to our homes, wearing masks when we leave, and lining up at grocery stores we used to avoid. To use a catch phrase that has emerged since the virus arrived, we're in "the new abnormal."
Alas, that is not the only new lingo that has surfaced. COVID has introduced a new micro-vocabulary of concepts no one could have predicted. (Note: This is not an official list of coronavirus terms. If you're seeking the real definition of "social distancing," head to Merriam-Webster.)
Here are the top 6 coronavirus terms/trends we'd never have anticipated in our most feverish COVID-fueled nightmares.
Remember when the word "pivot" felt fresh? When you used it, you sounded decisive, authoritative. Then the coronavirus came along, and now every headline must pivot and it's literally the only verb allowed.
It started in the business media world on April 1, when a business blog wrote a story on "How to Pivot Your Small Business Strategy During the COVID-19 Crisis."
The pivot seed took a week to germinate, and then INC posted a story on April 6 that savvily combined "pivot" + "masks" for a hot-trend double.
INC's pivot ardor was matched by Forbes, where they love pivot like no other, even pivoting twice in one day, with one story about masks and another about Panera Bread pivoting from lunch spot to grocery store.
On April 6, The Atlantic transferred pivot into politics, noting that "In Right-Wing Media, the Pivot Didn’t Happen." CNET picked up the pivot baton with a story about Uber, and Bloomberg wrote about Sweetgreen's "Pivot to Plates to Combat Plummeting Sales," extra points for alliteration.
Only second basemen should pivot but that's not where we're at. As this May 3 story puts it, "Life right now is a lot of pivots."
After a decade of gluten-free obsession, the last thing you'd expect would be hundreds of people baking their own bread at home.
Baking your own started when maybe one or two grocery stores ran out of bread — combined with the fact that baking bread helps fill those long quarantine hours. Baking bread doesn't actually require much activity, but you do need to be around during the various rises — so it makes you feel like you're productively occupied.
All those people baking bread caused a run on yeast. Which is how we got to starter, which, if done correctly, can let you bake bread without yeast.
Let's hope there isn't a flour shortage because that puts us a baby step away from growing and harvesting your own wheat.
On the heels of starter, this trendy whipped coffee drink became a viral trend after it was featured on TikTok. Most people have the ingredients — instant coffee and sugar — on hand, making it an ideal quarantine time-filler, not to mention an at-home alternative to your daily Starbucks fix.
Named after a Korean sponge candy called dalgona, the drink is also available for takeout at Kimchi Stylish Korean Kitchen in Carrollton, TocoToco Boba Tea in Plano, La Duni Latin Cafe, and as an occasional special flavor at Richardson bakery La Casita Bakeshop.
And to bring it full circle, Starbucks just last week posted a how-to-make-it video online.
Absolutely the best trend to emerge from COVID-19 are cocktail kits, in which restaurants and bars package up your favorite drinks to go, hopefully with their special mixers and TLC. This is thanks to the compassion of the state of Texas, who changed the alcohol to-go laws because they clearly knew what we needed the most: margaritas.
For some reason, of all the cocktails to go, the margarita kit has surged.
Following an encouraging tweet from Gov. Greg Abbott, and an industry campaign or maybe two, here's hoping this temporary loosening of alcohol restrictions becomes a permanent thing.
The Zoom meeting
One of the biggest coronavirus shifts has been the shutdown of non-essential businesses, sending office-type workers into that brave new frontier called working from home.
For insecure office managers freaked out about this unsupervised free-for-all, there's Zoom, an app that allows employees in different locations to patch in to one big company meeting.
This explains: those Brady Bunch photo collages of Zoom meetings; the how-to-look-good on Zoom stories; and the sites with scenic backgrounds to cover the mess on your kitchen table and make you look smart.
The birthday parade
With the pandemic keeping us 6 feet away, there's no way to celebrate one's most special day of the year, which has led to the semi-noxious new custom of the birthday parade: a parade of vehicles that slowly pass by your house, pelting you with honking and maybe a gift tossed responsibly out your car window.
I recently participated in a birthday parade. I dragged along a friend who drives a convertible, and we joined a runway of cars lined up in a church parking lot. The recipient, a beloved soul, stood in her front lawn, cheerfully waving as dozens of cars drove by. It lasted barely 5 minutes but it was an adrenaline rush, and I felt camaraderie with the other anonymous cars in the parade.
A week later, the peaceful quiet of my neighborhood was interrupted by a ridiculously noisy racket that sounded, from far away, like a New York traffic jam. HONK HONK HONK. Then I realized: birthday parade. Fun when you're in it, super annoying when you're not.