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My First Date in the Time of Corona

How do you navigate online dating during a pandemic? What's the protcol for mask fashion? For distancing? Gail Forrest finds out...

I am single and had been “home alone” long enough. I had hit the wall. Four months of quarantine in my condo with no company was my limit. I needed out. I finally had to admit I was not going to learn Italian, play the piano or bake bread. Although I love my little rescue dog Tulip, she was tired of my political tirades and how many more gray hairs had appeared on my head in the last week. Fortunately, I had recently read an article in the New York Times that it is possible to safely go on a date in Corona time. I decided to try it, or the dog would be looking for a new, less annoying owner. Not surprisingly, dating parameters have changed significantly due to staying at a safe social distance and wearing a mask. This is amusingly counter-intuitive as dating begs physical contact but, like I said, I had hit the wall.

Choosing a Date

I have never had much luck as an online dater and had crowned myself the “Queen of One Date” because of how many times I never got asked on a second. I was willing to forget about my title and bad dating luck and give it a shot. On dating sites I have tried to be realistic and stay within striking distance of my age, so the hot-guy pickins’ are slim. I ultimately settled on Robert as he seemed like a reasonable choice politically and educationally as well as age-wise, and his profile pictures were not from his high school graduation or standing by a 1968 Corvette, but recent. We decided to take a Covid-safe walk up the Evanston lake front.

What To Wear?

Uh oh, what should I wear on a date with a complete stranger while wearing a mask and standing six feet away? I was torn about whether or not my mask should match my clothes. Was that an important fashion detail these days or are all bets off on masks and the fashion statement they make? Damn, the New York Times failed to mention this. At a six-foot distance I struggled to determine if I should try and look sexy, which risked his moving in closer than 72 inches, or just hope he was near-sighted and couldn’t see what I had on. The scariest part in choosing the right Coronavirus outfit was that I had not had on anything other than baggy sweatpants since March 14! I had no idea whether or not any date-appropriate clothes would even fit. Did I dare put on a pair of skinny jeans and find out I was two sizes away from ever wearing them again? I lunged for a denim skirt that was always a little big.

Syncing Social-Distancing Parameters

I almost changed my mind. I was nervous to tell any of my friends about my date decision because for months we have all been so careful about being near other humans. Maybe it was a reckless plan? Even in the best of times online dating is a scary endeavor. I had no idea where Robert had been or to whom he had been exposed but we had exchanged opinions on masks and social distancing and he was in sync with my parameters, which was reassuring. I grabbed two masks which went with my outfit and decided to leave the choice until the last minute or I would lose my nerve and stay home.

It seemed incredibly weird to meet a masked man, but very Lone Ranger-esque

Another issue loomed large once I got to our designated meeting spot: Should I meet him masked or unmasked!? The questions were never ending. It seemed incredibly weird to meet a masked man, but very Lone Ranger-esque which was a comforting childhood memory.  If I was masked my neck and jaw line would be covered which was good because it could use a little nip and tuck. My eyes are my best feature and would be the only exposed area of my face, which gave me some reassurance. More significantly, would we take the whole walk in disguise? I needed outside support to purge my reckless soul.

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With minutes to go until launch I called Carol. Thankfully, she didn’t think I was completely crazy as her daughter had just gone on a blind date and lived. Her opinion was to be masked at all times. I decided a good compromise was to meet unmasked and then mask up for the walk. Lipstick was a now a must as without it I look like I’ve been dead for a week.  With a quick application of life-affirming red and my blue mask in hand I left the car.

At my best estimation, I stopped six feet away from my date. Thankfully, he looked like his pictures as I’ve noticed men like to lie about their height and “average” body size. We greeted each other with an elbow bump which was very Dr. Fauci-acceptable. After a friendly exchange of smiles Robert and I donned our masks and headed up the lake front.

What can I say about Robert — that he was nice and had brown hair. That he loved to Tango. And also loved to talk Tango. That he mentioned he had a hard time throwing anything away. And loved to Tango. He has a wooden toy he wants to sell. That’s all I know. He knows nothing about me. He forgot to ask.

After about a mile I said I had to get going and we walked back to my car. I felt victorious in that I had scaled the “home alone” wall and will probably do it again. Dating protocol may have changed but nothing else; it’s still a crap shoot. I have decided, however, to buy a date mask.

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Gail Forrest
Gail Forresthttp://www.gailforrest.com
Gail Forrest recently started doing standup which she finds is a complete blast. Gonepausal is her blog and she has a book on Amazon by the same name filled with stories of her skewed, funny view on midlife and all its attendant surprises. Humor is the only way forward at this point.

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