Lifestyle

Quarantine Dates: Zoom Edition

For me, the best thing about social isolation is the money I’ve saved on contact lenses. I only need to wear them for conference calls and Zoom dates — the two types of event making up my entire social calendar right now.

The day my boyfriend left for home, not seeing him again for potentially six months felt daunting. But with the joys of modern technology, the dating scene is getting overhauled. We can all power through this dry spell together.

As remote internships are on the rise, so too are remote relationships. I never envisioned myself pursuing a career as a cam girl — but with no physical dates, maybe I’ll have to try it out for fun.

In fact, once quarantine is over, I might ditch face-to-face dates altogether. With fibre-optic broadband and a high megapixel webcam, who needs a physical sex life? Zoom dates aren’t perfect, but they are 100% effective contraception.

Obviously, on a physical date, you don’t get cut out after 40 minutes of foreplay. I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t a non-premium Zoom subscription video call only cut out after 40 minutes when there are 3+ participants? To clarify, this was not a three-way Zoom date. It was a vanilla two-way Zoom, with my boyfriend using his phone and laptop for double the angles.

As part of my mum’s COVID-19 protection measures, wine has been eliminated from our Ocado orders. We can’t have it lowering our immunity, she says.

“Baby, my mum has banned wine. I’m so sober.”

“Darling, I’m so sorry.”

“Maybe you could sneakily post me some? In an inconspicuous parcel. Write ‘ASOS’ on it.”

“In a heartbeat, my love.”

He posts me a sentimental white Verdicchio all the way from the continent. The label features a picture of Botticelli’s Venus, an icon he claims I resemble. I pretend not to be offended, hiding any insecurity about my pear shape.

Ten days pass, and I’m more sober than ever. No sign of the wine — it must have gotten lost in the corona-afflicted post. I sulk at my boyfriend, and hint that he re-order it. He pretends to do so to placate me.

Eleven more days pass, and the wine finally arrives. I apologise to my boyfriend, who confesses he never re-ordered it. My mum drinks it anyway.

My boyfriend and I consider how to recreate our fond Oxford memories, and compensate for would-be Trinity moments that have been robbed from us: drinking wine in his set, a commemoration ball together….

“You know. For the price of a refunded ball ticket, we could host a Zoom webinar with over 500 participants. All in white tie.”

“Darling, you don’t have 500 friends.”

Then we realise we need not limit ourselves to Oxford bubble experiences. Now, we can branch out to previously inaccessible culture.

My boyfriend compiles a list of live-streamed operas and plays for us to watch, as if on a proper, real-life date. The film Her, about a man falling in love with an operating system’s voice, is also proposed. Is he suggesting something about my new status as a virtual girlfriend?

I wear makeup and heels for the first time since lockdown began, wanting to look pretty — even if just for my webcam. Ultimately, we end up having a piss up without Handel, and a hangover to show for it.

Phoebe Hennell

Phoebe Hennell is co-founder of The Oxford Blue, and former Managing Director. She is reading Philosophy and Modern Greek at Christ Church, and is on her year abroad in Athens.