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Dating in the Time of Covid

by Dr. David, Editor / Publisher

The older I get the more life seems absurd, not entirely so, but more than a bit. When you are young, there are goals, challenges and hormones to push you along. I remember telling my daughter, already 20 years ago, "This situation seems bright and shiny because it is the first time you are in it. However, after a few times..." She responded, "Yes, but it is my first time in it." Still, the whole thing seems increasingly ridiculous.

I've known three suicides in the last few years. Two were aquaintances and one was a good buddy whom I hadn't heard from in a decade. As far as I can make out, from an outside perspective, they all had a lot to live for. Their lives seemed valuable to me. Their lifestyles seemed enviable, in certain regards anyway. But, as Shakespeare wondered, "To be or not to be? That is the question."

Don't get me wrong, my personal sufferings are slight and few. The ridiculousness I refer to is much more comic. Most recently, thirty days shy of my 65th birthday I've started dating again.

Eight months ago, of joint accord, Veronica and I laid to rest our romantic relationship. Someone summed up our experience well; "As soon as we got divorced, my ex-wife and I became best friends."

The principal adage of Buddhism is that desire leads to suffering. But that's just not true. When you really want a cookie and you get it, there is no suffering involved. Not laying aside a frustrated desire is suffering. A better phrasing would be, "Frustration is the root of all suffering." Of course, you can want something, get it, and not like it when you do, but that's another type of frustration.

All this to say, that when I stopped expecting Veronica to intimately and lovingly understand me, her failures in that regard became much easier to overlook. Her having one of her moments no longer means that I need to have one of mine. Now, instead, I become aware of an option opening up, a new pathway in my heart or brain. It is more fundamental than thought, but it is as if I am making a decision. I could start pouting, get angry at the injustice, or I could take a couple of deep breaths and transcend that habit.

I've noticed with pleasure, over my decade of residency here in Mexico, that I've become much calmer. My main gauge of this is how much less confrontational I am when riding my bicycle. When faced with the inconsideration of other drivers I have markedly less road rage. This is good, if for no other reason than because they vastly outweigh me, shielded as they are in their motorized tonnage.

In this regard, when asked, "Como estas?" I like to respond, "Soy mas Mexicano," I'm more Mexican. But the other day, I questioned how much my increased calmness is due to cultural influence and how much it results just from getting older.

I have the same question when considering my much more balanced approach to the opposite sex. I'd like to claim that I've come to better terms with my primal childhood trauma of trying to have an emotional relationship with a woman who was unavailable for relationship. And, there no doubt is some of that. But most of my new-found emotional equilibrium may again just be due to getting older, lower testosterone.

Be that as it may, the other day I found myself speaking on the phone to a woman who wanted to promote an event. It was a very interesting conversation, and I found myself asking her if she were married. No, she confessed, asking me the same. We agreed that we'd like to get together. There followed on this a few days of attractive, somewhat flirtatious communication, and a date was set for me to come visit. Then, a day before our get-together, she broached the question of Covid.

It's a curious comment on our times that, while I have no compunction about publishing my emotional world, I hesitate to write about my vaccine status. I had the disease. And I rely on what I was taught in medical school, although that fact became unmentionable, namely that natural immunity is much better than vaccine-induced immunity. I understand that you may feel differently, but I had the disease and, I'm on strong scientific footing.

However, rational discussion on the subject being in such short supply, I instinctively knew that there was no use discussing relative immunity with my new phone buddy. Despite her being vaccinated, she was worried about catching Covid from asymptomatic me, and then, asymptomatically, exposing an immune-compromised friend to it over lunch a few days after our date. I respect that.

From our chat:

X: It was lovely speaking with you as well, David. What a fascinating life you've had. Smart and hardworking is an attractive combination!
Me: Thanks, but maybe not as attractive as Covid is repulsive?
X: It's not about you. It's not about me. The modern relationship: we began and ended in record time, entirely in text, we never had to leave home, or meet face-to-face, and no photos were taken so we have utter deniability!

A year ago, I met another woman, Y. At a goodbye dinner for a sensitive, artistic chap, who was visiting San Miguel. New in town, she mentioned that she needed to make money. I mentioned that I had work, and gave her my card. That was that.

At the latest Fabrica Aurora art walk, an attractive woman approached me with an effusive hello. It was Y. This time, I collected her contact information. After a little back and forth over the course of three weeks, she came over for dinner.

She loved my chicken, vegetable, garbanzo soup, apologizing as she took seconds and then thirds. The conversation centered around my offer of work, spiced up with a little getting-to-know-you talk. I felt very at ease. And, as the evening progressed, I think she was surprised with how comfortable she felt. If I am not flattering myself, she liked more than just the soup.

After dinner she suggested we go out for a beer, so we walked over to Trina's on Stirling Dickinson. There it was karaoke night, and there were a number of people I knew. One of these, JK O'Donnel, gave me a big hug, and I invited him to sit down. He did, regaling us with his southern charm. After a while, I got up to answer nature's call, and when I returned, he was back sitting at his own table.

Not upset, but passionate, Y. had a had a couple of beers, she told me that she didn't like to be talked at, and that she drew the line when JK opined that the Covid vaccine was effective and had saved "millions of lives." I know the whole anti-vaxxer mentality, and will say, that if the computer algorithm has you pegged as a liberal, then you don't. I confuse the artificial intelligence's attempt to stereotype my political preferences by clicking on news sites all across the ideological spectrum. These days, if you are not actively seeking out contrarian views, then you are in a one-sided bubble.

I'm very open-minded. My views regarding following scientific studies, parallel Mark Twain's opinion regarding falsehoods: "There are three types of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics." Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think politics should prevent us from sitting down together and having a beer.

Hinting as much, when I came back from the bathroom, Y. explained in her own defense that her feelings on the subject were heightened by the fact that a very dear, elderly friend of hers was dying of heart problems that arose after taking the vaccine and boosters.

We went on to speak about other matters. Other people came over to say hello. Y. got up and sang a song. We walked back to my place for another bowl of soup and dessert.

Life, is ridiculous, and ridiculously complicated. When I suffer multiple realities in my inner world, how can I insist that the outer world be only one way? I've come to think that enlightenment is not one truth, but an understanding that life is a kaleidoscope; as the Taoists put it, "the ten-thousand things, rising and falling." With my every new gray hair, the more it appears to me that wisdom rests in being able to step back from it all. But, then, maybe that just comes with getting old.


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