Shaking Hands With Yourself: A COVID-19 Primer
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Whoever said diamonds are a woman’s best friend and a dog is a man’s might have been wrong.
By Eugene S. Robinson
The Viral Loads of Loads
EUGENE, SIR: I just read that the COVID-19 virus hasn’t been detected in semen, which means that semen isn’t contagious, right? Does this conceivably clear someone to frequent sex workers? Or to be a sex worker? — Asking 4 a Friend
Dear Friend: What if the client and/or sex worker sneezes immediately prior to getting down to business? Which sex acts do you know to be performable through a face mask? And, finally, where’s the hermetically sealed room in which the aforementioned sex acts take place?
I’m not in the asking-question business; I’m in the answering-question business, but I wanted you to start seeing things as I see them. And while I appreciate your attempts to think “outside the box,” so to speak, there’s really no way you can stage-manage intimate sexual contact without including the intimate part.
I get that you’re suggesting there might be, and there probably has been if you’re old and bent enough to remember glory holes, i.e., sticking your penis through a hole in the wall to be serviced by whoever on the other side of the wall felt like doing so. You know how long this was uppermost in my mind? Right up until the time that someone had their penis mangled by a lunatic on the other side of the wall. That’s how long.
Anyway, yeah, conceivably such a setup would allow the seeker of service and the service provider to have a low-intimacy intimate encounter. But let’s say you received fellatio from someone marinated in COVID-19. Wouldn’t it be easier to imagine this than to actually do it?
I know, I know. I’m in the question-answering business, so I’ll say this: Semen doesn’t seem to carry a COVID-19 viral load, sex work is still illegal in lots of places and, lastly, sex workers are much better served to ply their wares via webcamming or, well, webcamming. Hope this helps.
Nice to Meet Me
EUGENE, SIR: I was in the shower and started masturbating and then my other half came in. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but he’s giving me a hard time. Not a serious hard time, but in the name of healthy relationships, how should this work? I mean, if we’re quarantined together does every sexual act within our four walls have to be a group effort? Is this about control or pleasure, and shouldn’t any reasonable adult know there’s a difference between the two? — Name withheld by request
Dear Carlos Danger: A few weeks of lockdown and everyone is parsing the particulars, and if you’re talking and not screaming, why not? Let’s consider the erotic. It seems to me that the value of the erotic starts with it being a singular, personal desire to do something with another person. Even if that something is something strange, the glory of it is that you have found someone as strange as you and for the briefest of moments your isolation is lessened by a simple act of sharing. Even if that sharing would horrify, for example, your parents.
Things get dicey, though, when your desires diverge from those of whomever you’re sharing them with. You want to play lusty pirate, but your partner insists on always being the lusty pirate? They want to be the slave master but never the slave? Paths — see the “Naughty Nazi” query — diverge and you’re left scrambling to negotiate, and who among us doesn’t find negotiation sexy, outside of almost everyone?
Desire is best sharpened against the whetstone of choice, and if you are choosing to masturbate — presuming that this isn’t instead of having sex with your partner — why would he impinge?
It’s like watching TV together. Presumably you don’t always want to watch the same thing. Is there a lengthy Q&A session over why one wants to and one doesn’t? Probably not. This is like that. Again, providing you are choosing to have sex with him some of the time, this is a no-harm situation. Your partner could have joined in, in some version of “separate but together,” which might have been novel and fun. Mostly because talking is sometimes the least effective thing.
The Rebirth of Online Dating?
EUGENE, SIR: I think online dating is back, despite what you said a few columns ago about courting online. I’m not here to push any website or app, but I also don’t think people should not try some form of dating during lockdown. After all, life has to be lived. — Sammy
Dear Jammy: I have no memory of crapping on online methods and ways of meeting people, but you are correct that I don’t think it’s nearly a good enough half-measure. If I were to try to sell you on, let’s say, some kind of an argue app that would let you skip all the cool parts of a relationship and just focus on the toilet seat scuffles, the fractious flirtations and the jealousy jam-ups, would you think that was a worthwhile while to spend your time? I mean, surely you learn a lot about your partner by arguing with them?
Yeah, there’s a market for everything, and the Argue app would probably be a winner, but not for me. The best part about dating has to be the anticipation of the moment when you go from being people who know each other to people who know each other.
You get that via Zoom? I didn’t think so.