By Kyra Lisse || Contributing Writer
TAKE ONE. Don’t do it. Like, don’t even think about it. Mask up! Listen to science! Leave room for Jesus—for six Jesuses, in fact! Or, if you’re like me and subscribe to a different religion, or perhaps do not subscribe to any at all, exchange your six Jesuses for six $5 Subway foot-longs, and, well, you get the idea.
TAKE TWO. Resist all that is logical (see: TAKE ONE) and think about it anyway. The world may have changed, but you have not. Not really, anyway. You still pine for what you pined for prior to March 2020; if anything, the months of social distancing have only exacerbated your desire for closeness, compatibility, companionship. By the same token, you can’t fault yourself for wanting what you don’t have during a time you can’t have it. That is pretty much the quintessential human condition, and the slogan for the year.
TAKE THREE. FaceTime your mom before leaving for your first-ever day of hybrid classes, but hide your annoyance when she tells you to apply more blush before you go.
Gotta make a good first impression! Remember, boys like to see a little effort!
Remind her that you’ll be wearing a mask. The whole time.
TAKE FOUR. Redownload Dumb and Dumber (AKA those trash dating apps you never should have downloaded in the first place but that you compulsively reinstall every six to eight months). Swipe left at the first sign of dead fish, flavored vapor, and/or monster trucks. Then, swipe right on the two or three people who are most likely to have decent personalities and the word quarantine in their vocabulary. Ask them if their college is in-person or online because that’s a question you ask now. Tell them your major; be ready for such responses as “that’s fun, I hate writing LOL” and “ooo, what’s ‘classics?” Ghost them as soon as they issue a “hey, I don’t love talking on here” before requesting your number, because suddenly you’ll remember that Dumb and Dumber won’t get you anywhere, and that you’ve seen this movie play out and it’s never once ended in romance.
Uninstall. Repeat TAKE ONE.
TAKE FIVE. When your best friend informs you that she and X have officially started dating, reply “OMG YAYAY <333” and not “ET TU, BRUTE???” (As it happens, this friend also took Latin back in the day, so she would invariably understand your meaning.) Help guide her through the various stages of courtship. Be happy for her, because you are. Repeat after me: I am happy for her, I am happy for her, I am…
TAKE SIX. Unironically listen to every cloying ballad from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (rated PG for ages 10+). Do this while lying on your bed and staring out the window so that you can truly envision yourself as a melancholic actor in a rom-com montage. Once the above songs have run their course, play “Sad” by Maroon 5 and “River” by Joni Mitchell. Note that the latter, despite its reputation as a Christmas classic, really holds its own all year-round.
Oh, and don’t forget you have a paper due next week. You should probably get on that.
FINISH YOUR FREAKING PAPER.
TAKE EIGHT. Submit your paper and take yourself for a jog through campus, marveling at how the fierce wind barrels in and around your ears. As the endorphins reach your brain, move your feet a little faster and remember that you are a badass. That anyone worth your while will see that, if not today, then soon.
TAKE NINE. A few weeks after arriving home for winter break, agree to meet up with your best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend for a socially-distant bonfire. You’ve been texting, and he’s great, and, who knows, maybe he’s the one. Can’t know ‘til you try, right?
So, go. At 7 pm. In twenty-eight degree weather. Sit with him in front of a fire that is so weak that you could probably blow it out through the multi-layered cotton of your mask. Realize that his real-life persona is, how to say, far flatter than his virtual one; but, even so, resign yourself to staying three hours, talking about nothing, losing all feeling in your feet, solely because you’ve never been one for initiating exits. (Further reading: “Three Takes on Leaving a Date or Other Underwhelming Function Without Making It Awkward”)
When you finally do call it, make haste to recognize that the sheer memory of walking is the only thing carrying you to your car. That the cold has rendered your legs useless for at least a half an hour.
A word of advice?
Skip this TAKE.
Start with Zoom.
Or at least wear fifteen pairs of pants.
TAKE TEN. Wake up the next morning feeling your feet, but also defeated.
Stay in bed as long as you’d like. You’re still wonderful. Refer to TAKE ONE as needed.
TAKE ELEVEN. When you do pull yourself from the bed, whenever that may be, I urge you to laugh. Yes, laugh, because it’s all very comical—to be a person seeking a person while the world is on fire. And I don’t mean a fire like that in TAKE NINE, which fizzles out and whimpers in a matter of minutes. I mean a fire that is wide-reaching and all-consuming and bent on destruction, and yet, despite that fact, or perhaps in spite of it, you’re still plucky enough, stubborn enough, funny enough to keep searching the scorched earth for that quintessential human.
Just don’t forget to wear a mask.
Junior Kyra Lisse is a contributing writer, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.