Ten years ago, on Katie’s birthday, we went on our second accidental date. It was at the River of Lights event at the Albuquerque biopark. A bunch of our mutual friends were all supposed to meet up. No one accounted for the fact there there was a holiday parade, which made traffic a nightmare. It snowed, causing further havoc. We were the only two people that showed up, so we made the best of it. The evening was spent walking around, talking, and drinking cocoa.
A few days earlier, the same friends group was supposed to get together for a punk film festival. We were the only two people to show up for that as well. It was where we learned we had the same taste in music, and a frighteningly similar sense of humor. That was our first accidental date.
Up to that point, we really didn’t get along. We knew each other because we were part of a mutual friends group. We were in a tabletop roleplaying group, and our characters were oil and water. The truth is that we’d never had the opportunity to get to know one another.
Prior to the two accidental dates, I had offered to take her out to dinner for her birthday. Our general disagreeableness toward one another was affecting the group dynamic, and I wanted to bury the hatchet. We were going several days after her actual birthday; to do so on the day felt too familiar. It was not intended to be a date. It was a peace summit. At the end of the evening we decided that it was a date, and that the previous two outings were also dates.
We’ve been together ever since. Ten years.
Katie’s Birthday: 2020 Edition
The original plan was to roll out of bed, get dressed, and go out for coffee and pastry. From there we’d go grocery shopping. We pick up sushi and bring it home for lunch. For dinner I’d make her the meal she requested, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and Brussel sprouts with bacon. Then we’d have whatever dessert she picked out: cake, ice cream, whatever she saw are the cafe or grocery store that looked good.
Two days ago, Central Finland went into lockdown. We’re still going to the grocery store, with all precautions in place. I have no idea whether the café is going to be open, or whether they’ll be seating people. And before you say anything, all food service workers continue to be masked and gloved, and all cashiers are behind plexiglass. We’re going at an hour when there are few people out and about, the café will be relatively empty, allowing us to sit far from anyone else. If, in fact, they’re open.
By the same token, I don’t know if the sushi bar inside the grocery store will be open. The operate out of a large booth in the produce section, near the meat and fish counter. There are normally two women, masked and gloved, making sushi platters and arranging them in clear plastic trays. That’s been safe. They might stop because of the lockdown. I don’t know.
So, plans might evolve.
Lockdown December 2020
Jyväskylä has gone from being one of the safest places to be to having the 3rd largest outbreak in Finland. I can make my own assessment, based on both data and personal observations. The largest demographic for new infections is people ages 20 to 29. University students are the culprits.
I look out the window and see herds of them without masks. They put on a paper masks to ride the bus (mandatory), then throw them away as soon as they get off. The trash can outside our building was overflowing with masks the other day. They don’t even wait until they get into their apartments. Apparently the lobby, the hallways, and the stairwell are “base”.
So I’m not worried about the café, which is frequented by paranoid older people with top-notch PPE. Nor am I concerned with the grocery story, which isn’t the cheap one where students shop. I’m more worried that we’ll catch covid in the distance between our apartment door and the entrance to the building. If safety nerf’s Katie’s birthday, well, we’d rather be around for her next one.