My mom entered my childhood bedroom on Saturday morning as she often does: before 8am, and with an announcement. The hallway between her room and mine creaked with her quick footsteps in the familiar way that meant I was about to be hauled out of bed, and I waited for her to peek her head in.
“Hey,” she whispered loudly, after staring at me for a second from the doorway, “are you awake?” (If there is a record, let it show that I was facing her with my eyes open, very clearly awake.)
“I suppose,” I replied to her fuzzy silhouette. (She looked fuzzy because I didn’t have my glasses on, not because her hair was especially fuzzy that morning. Although now that you mention it, I think her hair was especially fuzzy that morning.)
“Dad and I were just watching a thing on Dating in the Age of Coronavirus,” she said.
“Any conclusions?” I said. My dating life, or impressive lack thereof, has been a favorite topic of family discussion recently.
“Um…” I hear her contemplating if she could pull off saying something encouraging. She decided to go with honesty. “Nope.”
“Because it’s all pretty fucking miserable?” I yawned.
“Told you,” I said, stretching my arms to greet the morning like a cartoon princess. (I find that this helps preparing for the emotional obstacle course previously known as “getting out of bed.”)
“Still!” she said as her fuzzy face moved back towards the door, “I don’t think it would hurt to get swiping!”
If you don’t have a liberal Jewish mother who is fiercely proud of your (formerly) independent lifestyle, but at her core infused with the matchmaking fervor of a village Yenta – you should really get one.
With no additional context, she’ll text you a headshot of a man you’ve never seen before with the words: “Would you go out with this guy?” (I could only assume that she’d found him wandering the streets, or maybe in a newspaper ad.)
Or she’ll play chauffeur when you unexpectedly need to have your IUD replaced on Valentine’s Day, because – and I quote – “we gotta get that girl ready for action.”
OR, she’ll send up a smoke signal for available men in every one of her social circles, always making sure to set the most up-to-date parameters. “We’re looking for someone in the 30ish age range. Yup, she usually goes for the engineers, but we’re definitely not opposed to bankers. Bankers sound great. She also likes them tall, if you can swing it, but not non-negotiable.”
Here are the things I have recently tried to explain to my mom.
Blindly typing shit on your phone to a romantic prospect without any context is a tingly nightmare under the best of circumstances. Like, when there’s a chance of maybe kissing eventually. Whenever I think of re-entering the world of impulsively texting handsome strangers while also avoiding the invisible killer virus lurking everywhere – my brain short circuits. (I think it can only handle one terrifying, real-life video game at a time.)
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy dating. It just requires so much hope, and wit, and perseverance, and personal hygiene – none of which I’m on top of my game with right now. I’m either clumsily doing regular-life things with half of my brain focused on keeping my family alive, or I’m actively trying not to be a dickwad to humanity. (Which, with the right doses of persuasive opinion and pervasive anxiety, can really turn into quite the job.)
I’d say that I’m excited to explore new textures of romantic connection during this uncertain time, but that’s not true. I don’t feel equipped to explore anything beyond familiar Reply All episodes and the drawer where we keep the chocolate.
I’d say that I’m completely disinterested in dating while the world is so justly preoccupied, but that’s not true either. I’m still curious about what’s out there – who’s out there. I still want to feel the shy excitement of maybe kissing eventually.
When it comes to being completely, wildly single in the age of coronavirus – I have no plan. (My brain no longer makes those, it seems.) But I do know that I will be here, alongside my roommate-parents and friend-lovers-from-afar. Thinking about reaching out to old flings, and probably not doing it. Actively trying not to be a dickwad to humanity.
Whether you’re feeling like a pillar unto yourself or part of an all-star romantic team, I hope you’re hanging in there this week. And if you have a head shot of an eligible bachelor in the tri-state area, my mom is always taking submissions.