Pandemic Dating

Now here’s a wrinkle nobody wanted, and yet here we are. Welcome to having to make all sorts of dating decisions, that are more naturally dealt with much further along, rather than on the very first date. Ya know, questions like:
Are you dating any other people?
Are they wearing masks? Are you? Is your server?
Have you gotten a haircut in the last nine months?
How about your cats? Do you think they might be COVID carriers?
Have you looked into tiny feline-face-shaped masks?
Believe me, I’m all about being safe, but just living life has so many inherent risks. And can I really be passing out good-faith assurances like candy corn, when even the experts have no consensus on transmission and prognosis?
Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe assurance is all we really need, early on. And then later…reassurance.
Maybe insurance? Dating Insurance, there’s a concept that has never been fully marketed. After you make your first million on it, send me 5%.
One thing that has surprised me: women are more beautiful when masked. The Arab world was really onto something with that one. Maybe it’s the air of mystery? The thrill of eventual discovery? Refocusing attention on the eyes, which is, after all, where the real ballgame is? I don’t know, and have learned not to overthink matters of the heart. But women are instantly more compelling when you can’t see everything. Something should be held back.
But not TOO much. Rather than spend an entire date wearing masks, we usually meet outside somewhere, where we can slip the masks off to converse from a six-foot distance. Sounds sexy, right? But at least we’re safe. And that raises the larger question: is safety sexy?
Historically, for most women, the answer is no. Most of them need a little edge, at least. I remember back to a 1950s b&w movie where an attractive woman hurled the ultimate insult at a potential suitor, dubbing him “Harmless”. Ouch.
So we shed the masks, and have a grand ol’ time getting to know one another. Now we can do all the fun first-date things: banter, flirting, maybe a little footsie if things are going well…
No, no footsie! Unless she is a basketball player. You’re still six feet apart, remember? Sliding under the table is not a good look on a first date, unless you’re Matthew McConaughey. I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but never that.
The pandemic has changed so much about how we function as a society, but it can’t change the core human need to connect. So we bumble on through, looking for The One. As in, The One who Completes Us, not The One who Infects Us.
How will the pandemic affect how singles play the odds? Will we be more willing to ‘settle’, and then chafe? Or will we go ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ regardless, and continue to spin the cylinder?
Russian Roulette is not a very good analogy, in this case. After all, most people who get COVID recover, many of us fully. The same can certainly not be said of suffering a broken heart. So where is the real risk here?
In a weird way, a woman’s response to COVID on a first date tells me all kinds of things about her that would normally take longer to discover. How risk-averse she is, and how much she is willing to suspend it on my behalf, yields way more insight than a hasty goodnight kiss.
Oh yeah, those are history. On a first date, at least. We want to give it at least five days to make sure they aren’t hacking up a storm or breaking a sweat. MAYBE a hug, while holding your breath. More likely, an awkward socially-distanced wave. If we did by chance manage to hold hands, a consensual squirt of hand sanitizer. Did I mention how sexy COVID dating is?
Then there are those folks who refuse to meet at all, other than online. But they are generally librarians, or piano teachers. As my new bestie Joe Biden is fond of saying: “C’MON!”

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