I’m as tired as anyone of navigating social life right now. The pandemic rages, but I’m vaccinated. Are you? Are we hugging hello, wearing masks, eating in, eating out? Do we make decisions the same way, share the same information, or…
Suddenly I realized, yes, these conversations can be awkward, but it is easier than the ones about safe sex. I got married and left San Francisco in 1984, but before that the plague of AIDS had appeared on the scene. There really wasn’t much emphasis on safe sex yet. Mostly, the public health directive was on NO sex. Given human nature, this was going to fail.
Some genius community activists and health care providers promulgated the standards for safe sex. And at first the conversation was awkward, very awkward. But it saved lives, and it saved sanity, and continues to do so.
I was unexpectedly single a dozen years later—and received a safe sex lecture from my GP and a request for an AIDS test from a potential significant other. Although I prided myself on my know-it-all attitude, I was slightly surprised. Turns out that even though I knew I didn’t have AIDS that really wasn’t a a convincing fact for others. So I complied.
Exchanging bodily fluids is usually more intense than a coffee date. But if the comparison holds up, and I’m pro safe sex, then I should be grateful for safe socializing. In fact, I wish the buzzword wasn’t social distancing, which sounds like a cross between leprosy and existentialism.
Awkward as honest conversation may be, it is never amiss to find out what other people want and need to feel comfortable.