Social distancing is the law (and my dream come true)
Even after Covid-19 is no longer with us, I think I'm going to go through life with the current settings
Does anyone remember that incident 10 years ago when Wayne Bridge refused to shake John Terry's hand ahead of a Chelsea vs Manchester City match? Terry had apparently had an affair with Bridge's then partner, Vanessa Perroncel, when the two blokes were teammates at Chelsea. I remember Bridge's gesture being labelled "rude" on Twitter in the aftermath. Rude? I'll tell you what's rude: going behind your mate's back, slipping and falling pecker-first into his girlfriend.
When I was barely four years old, one of my dad's colleagues was a fellow called "Ntshebe", on account of his overgrown beard. An unkempt, deeply repulsive man. Whenever he got tipsy from the mengsel of Castle Milk Stout and Viceroy brandy he drank, he'd pick up my brothers and me and rub us against his facial forest lovingly. But his breath reeked of stale beer, brandy, fried liver and a rotten tooth. I've never been within more than 100m of a hyena, but I'm certain that's what a hyena's breath smells like after consuming a decaying skunk carcass. One day he reached out for me and I shook my head vigorously, yelling: "But your breath stinks!" This didn't go down too well and I was "taught a lesson" in good manners.
Fast-forward to last week when I left my Covid-19 sanctuary to get some medication at the pharmacy. The past three weeks or so of physical distancing and the lockdown have been kind to people with my natural aversion to human contact. I am particularly enjoying the "stand 1m apart" floor markings on my rare forays out to get essentials. No more mild panic from folks standing so close behind you in a queue their belly button brushes up against the small of your back.
So naturally I was mortified when I felt this chap's warm breath on the back of my neck. Before Covid-19, I might have politely swivelled my head dramatically to look at him. But this usually does not rattle "intimate queue-ers" in the least. So I would have been forced to take a timid half-step forward, careful not to crowd the person in front of me. Of course, he would have immediately followed me.
But these are no ordinary times. So, I turned around and hissed at him: "Please take a step back onto that 'X' on the floor!" Ordinarily, I would have received accusing "What is his problem?" looks. But not on this beautiful Friday afternoon. Instead, I got murmurs of approval.
I'm personally glad for the temporary shift in the social needle. Like I argued two weeks ago, I hope the shift is permanent.
A friend needed to drop an item off at a septuagenarian's flat in Killarney the other afternoon. The old lady cowered behind her locked burglar door, instructed her to throw it on the floor and buzz off. Bravo. There are many times I have wanted to respond to friends' texts telling me they'd swing by my house to drop items with, "Ag, just insert it in the mail slot and bugger off." Instead, I'll end up being that guy playing reluctant host in a tattered T-shirt, boxer shorts, walking around in my socks and fetching beers from the fridge.
Even after Covid-19 is no longer with us, I think I'm going to go through life with the current settings. "No. I don't want to join you for drinks, actually. I'll be at my house scratching my nuts and bingeing on Tiger King and Ozark."
The same goes for the missus's regular excursions into pre-Berlin Wall communism. I'll get up and announce, "I'm going to warm up some leftover pizza. Would you like some?" "No," she'll respond, she's on a diet and shouldn't be having pizza. Barely two minutes into me enjoying my pizza, she's grabbing my fork and poking around my plate. "B-b-but you said you didn't want any!" "Oh, come off it," she'll respond playfully. "It's only half a slice." "But I warmed up two slices because I want two slices, not one-and-a-half slices! Also, why are you pottering around my food?"
One of my neighbours has been waking up on Sundays, placing a speaker on his lawn and conducting a church service
Going forward, I'm not giving up half a slice of pizza to anyone. If that makes me a rude, mean husband, I'll lace that up and wear it.
One of my neighbours in the working-class neighbourhood behind the Boerewors Curtain I reside in has been waking up on the past two Sunday mornings, placing a speaker on his lawn and conducting a church service. His time is up.
As soon as the first bars of his guitar flood the street, I'm walking to his house and insisting that he turn it down. If there's any resistance, I'm calling the metro cops and making a scene. Rude? Maybe. But I think that the height of rudeness is torturing your neighbours with your Bobby Angel voice at 120 decibels for two hours until their dogs become suicidal.