I have a dog who almost never leaves his crate. Dogs are den animals by nature, which means they require a space of their own, where no one else is allowed to tread. I didn’t know this before we adopted Carter, and thus I didn’t know that welcoming him into our house and giving him free rein of the main floor would kick up his biologically mandated agoraphobia. Outside of his crate, there is too much space and too much noise and too many things around for him to feel safe. And thus, he retreats to his den, sometimes for 14 hours at a time.
I am my dog now. Mostly confined to home during this extended coronavirus season, I have cultivated a healthy fear of the outside world. When I go to the grocery store, I sweat bullets. When I see strangers out on the street, I worry they might get too close to me. Sometimes I worry some aggro virus truther will deliberately try to shake my hand, and then I imagine myself telling that guy to fuck off and die.
I don’t know which elements of my social graces will revert to form the instant my governor tells me it’s safe to go to a restaurant again, and which elements will remain hogtied by my fear of becoming an unwitting infectious agent. I don’t know what MANNERS will look like after this. Will I be able to hug my friends? Will I be able to kiss people hello at a party? Will I be able to shake your hand? Ever?
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I want to. Badly. I have my family at home to keep me company, but I (and my wife and kids, too) crave the company of others. I used to think about handshakes only when I did them wrong. Now I think about them as a matter of fantasy. I would fucking KILL to see my best friend Jeremy right now and shake his hand, hard. Not in the pissing-contest way, but in that way where you’re so glad to see someone that your joy can’t help but echo through how you touch them. I dream about shaking my man’s hand. I dream about hugging him tight.