Dylan Stewart Columnist
Come gather round now children, while I tell you of the desperate and dangerous days of mating in the time before the great virus.
Back then, in the wild and woolly days of the dawn of the 21st Century, man and woman would meet so carelessly they would merely flick their fingers on screens of light to determine their life partners.
Flipping left and right was a mating call that would spell years of loneliness for some and rapturous ecstasy and divine delirious decadence for others.
Sometimes the mates would even meet in person and exchange drinks and pleasantries over meals of actual cooked animals. Real animals. Not the artificial laboratory concoctions scientists call “food” now.
They would lock lips and exchange kisses without even checking each other for diseases first.
In those days people would greet each other by actually touching their palms together in a bizarre greeting known as the “shaking of hands.”
We were carefree and careless. Nothing could hurt us. Nothing could harm us. Sure there had been the scourge of sexually transmitted disease in the 80’s, but that is ancient history. This was a brave new world, and connections were easy to make and easy to break.
People would even dare to cohabitate. Can you imagine? Two human beings actually living together in the exact same house? You may scoff, but believe your old uncle Dylan … it was true.
We would gather together in large groups and laugh and share drinks together. There were even those who would dare to “swing,” which was when two partners would switch mates and four people would co-mingle their fluids together.
Oh, we believed we were having safe sex. We believed we were being progressive and thinking ahead. We believed we were impervious.
But then in the early days of 2020 it all changed. We had been told “hindsight is 2020,” but now we know how true that statement really was.
In hindsight we were fools. Desperate delinquents. Reckless rebels. And we paid the price.
These days it’s all changed. These days we take every precaution to stay safe and stay alive. Dating is a practiced process of courting each other over the course of months.
The first several dates are clinical opportunities to test each other for viruses, illnesses, hereditary weaknesses and immunity obstacle courses.
We write hermetically sealed letters sent to each other via vacuum tubes. Heck, we don’t actually see each other face to face until we have successfully passed a barrage of tests and challenges. And when we do meet face-to-face we would never dare remove our protective hazmat suits. We would never dare touch lips or other body parts.
We lost too much in that pandemic. We were too scarred. Too scared. Too altered by what we saw, and what we learned about the fragility of the human body.
You might wonder how we procreate without touch, but after years of trial and error we have learned how to send our bodily fluids to laboratories where they piece together the building blocks of human beings and produce a perfect offspring.
They are delivered to us free of infections. Free of viruses. Free of the expectation of human touch.
We all live in our plastic bubbles, protecting ourselves and our loved ones with veneers of plastic and airtight living chambers.
We watch and interact with each other through screens. We hear each other through the speakers and headphones in our protective suits and hermetically sealed rooms.
Gone is the need for touch. The need for connection. The need for physical comfort. And we are safer for it.
We know that our children will live long and healthy. That our spouses won’t catch whatever deadly secrets are hiding in our bloodstreams. That we will exist in our plastic worlds, finding joy where we can, finding human interaction where we can, finding faith in our futures where we can.
Yes we will live our lives, but at what cost?
If only we knew then what we know now. If only we had listened, paid closer attention, heeded the warning our perfect planet laid out in plain details for us.
But alas, this is where we are. This is who we are now. And things will never be the same again.
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