“Thank you so much, I had a great time!” I wave farewell to her, before jumping into my car and deleting her number from my phone. This isn’t going to work. I can’t blame her, we’re just not compatible. She doesn’t have Herpesvirus type 1, I do have Herpesvirus type 1. You know, the virus that causes cold sores on your lips. I have the virus, I only know because I had an ex who insisted I get tested. About half the population in the country has the virus, most elderly people have it.
Some people don’t want to get it. It increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. I could have known, if I had properly read her bio. “Important: No kissing until you get your HSV-1 test. Sorry, don’t want Alzheimer’s when I’m old!” I see it now, as I browse through my phone. I can’t believe I wasted 20 euro and one social contact point on a lunch date for this.
This would have never worked out. Not because I can’t kiss her, I could live with that. Not even because I can’t fall in love with her. I’ve had plenty of relationships, but I’ve never fallen in love. I think I’m just not capable of love. Humanity disgusts me too much. I’ve learned to accept it.
No, I can’t see this working out, because I can just envision the next step: If we had children together, she wouldn’t let anyone kiss them either. When you kiss a child, you transmit cytomegalovirus. About ninety percent of the population has it. Your immune system can’t defeat the virus, so it gradually fills your immune capacity over the years with useless white blood cells that focus on trying to get rid of the virus.
This is one of the reasons old people have a weaker immune system. Theoretically, if you don’t kiss your kids and don’t let grandma kiss them, they can make the choice for themselves whether they want to take the risk of getting infected. As long as they don’t get infected, their bodies will age slower, because their immune systems will work more effectively. Our Messiah’s fate was sealed through a kiss. To kiss someone you love, is a slow-motion death sentence. Perhaps that is true for love in general. Perhaps we die because we love.
Lock me down harder daddy
A story about love in the 21st century
It’s September the 19th, 2024. I am the world’s last corona-denying Covidiot, or so it feels. I’m not bragging. This is a confession. I’m ashamed of the thoughts I have. After all, how could I not be the last one to doubt any of this? Surely everyone must see the urgency of the situation by now? We are in level eleven lockdown and we still haven’t managed to get rid of this dangerous virus. How could I deny a virus that is so contagious? Something about the whole thing just doesn’t feel right with me. I can’t quite put my tongue on it, but I feel like I’m being scammed.
It started when we first moved into a level ten lockdown one year ago. This was as far as the restrictions could go back then. Under level ten everyone had to wear a mandatory buttplug in addition to a mask whenever you leave the house, something you were only allowed to do to head to your job, the hospital or the supermarket anyway. It was discovered by scientists that the virus is capable of spreading through our intestinal tract. It’s carried by our intestinal fumes and travels on these foul smelling waves into other people’s nostrils.
Some people were hesitant at first , but they ultimately went along with it. “Just six weeks of wearing our buttplugs and we can finally go back to normal.” One guy commented on some Facebook news article. When I talked to the people I know through Zoom, they generally seemed more skeptical: “Well yeah I don’t like it, I’ve noticed my anus is stretched quite far by now, whenever I eat spicy Indian food or raw oysters I start spilling feces into my underpants the day afterwards, but what are you going to do about it?” My colleague said.
On certain obscure subreddits people were more skeptical. I decided to visit /r/conspiracy, where I found a very intriguing post:
Haven’t you noticed that almost all countries announced these measures simultaneously, but implemented them differently? We have nationally mandated standard sizes for our buttplugs, but they differ everywhere. In the United States, the buttplug is three inches long and two inches in circumference. In Ireland, it’s four inches long and almost three inches in circumference. How does any of this stuff make any sense? Why do the Irish need a bigger buttplug than the Americans? My theory is that these narcissistic chief scientists have decided to force us to wear a buttplug that resembles their own penis in erect condition!
Someone else commented affirmatively:
I went to a sauna a few years ago where I ran into Dr. Fauci. He thought he was alone, but I walked in on him beating his meat. I really can’t look at my buttplug anymore without seeing his wrinkly weenie. Here’s the big question I want the naysayers to answer: Why is the American buttplug so wrinkly? Every European nation seems to have a pretty normally shaped buttplug, except for the Montenegrin buttplug, that has a strange bend to the left, and the Austrian buttplug, that has a wart-shaped bump near the end. What is so different about the American intestinal tract that we require smaller wrinklier buttplugs than the Europeans?
A guy then linked to a Twitter thread, where these persisting conspiracy theories were swiftly debunked by a Chinese American epidemiologist from Harvard university:
The American intestinal tract is congenitally different from the average European’s intestinal tract. Our higher consumption of hamburgers means that our intestinal tract tends to be more irregularly shaped, which requires a wrinklier buttplug. In addition, under our capitalist neo-imperialist patriarchal system, we tend to feel systematically more oppressed and marginalized, particularly trans and genderqueer people of color. As a result, we have spent years naturally clenching our anuses around other people. As a consequence, our buttplug needs to be smaller than the European buttplugs, to provide the same level of fart retention. Corona-deniers will point to China’s reluctance to implement mandatory buttplugs for its citizens, but China’s early lockdown means the virus has now been successfully eliminated, so Chinese citizens have no genuine need to wear a buttplug. In addition, the Han Chinese people’s dignity, high level of education and collective patriotism ensures that farting in the presence of other people would basically be unthinkable to most members of the public.
This helped put my mind at ease. I was about to fall for another fake-news conspiracy theory. To finally put this rumor to rest, I went to a fact-checking website set up by a cooperation between the Huffington Post and the New York Times:
Claim: Our government-mandated buttplug is designed to resemble Dr Fauci’s penis.
Judgement: Absolutely false and kind of racist, basically rooted in white supremacy. This persisting rumor plays on racist and long debunked myths that suggest health professionals like Dr. Fauci who help keep us safe tend to have smaller penises than the average male citizen. Dr. Fauci has also taken to Twitter to debunk this rumor, pointing out in a recent tweet that if the government mandated buttplug had been designed to resemble his genitalia, it would have been eight inches long, made of a harder material than latex and “above average in circumference”.
I went back to the /r/conspiracy subreddit and the whole thread was removed. A few days later the whole subreddit was banned, for being a platform that condones racism. It doesn’t shock me that these type of places where uneducated right-wing populists gather together would launch these sort of disturbing rumors. However, as most of us who kept track of the evolving case numbers soon realized, a level ten lockdown would be insufficient to genuinely get rid of the virus. The number of cases was still going up. I remember watching a live video conference with the Dutch prime minister, who announced that the Netherlands would have to progress to a level eleven lockdown.
Under the level eleven lockdown, our buttplugs would have to be upgraded. Within twenty seconds of inserting these new buttplugs designed for our anuses, the device would secrete an antiviral white substance, that helps cleanse the intestinal tract of any lingering corona viruses. Again, cynics were making comparisons between various nation’s policies. The American buttplug begins secreting antiviral substances within ten seconds, the British buttplug after fifteen seconds. The Italian and Spanish buttplugs take a few minutes. Dr. Fauci anticipated the new rumors this would launch and swiftly pointed out that “if the #racist right-wing populist conspiracy theories were correct, the American buttplug would take well over half an hour! #fakenews #staythefuckinside #maskitorcasket”.
None of this really mattered that much to me personally anymore. I had figured out by now there isn’t really anything I can do about it. I would simply have to live with this new reality that constitutes my pathetic joke of a life. I spent most of my time simply dissociating from the world around me. Every once in a while I would get a new pack of Salvia extracts delivered to my door that I could smoke through my bong. I generally spent most of my days chewing Salvia leaves or smoking Salvia extracts. The whole house began to smell like the burned remains of a very foul smelling type of dried spinach.
At some point, I experienced what should have been the highlight of my day: A mechanic knocked on my door, he was here to perform the annual maintenance on my central heating system. I got to experience actual social interaction in my own home, without having to check off one of my three remaining social contact points for the month in the Corona app! Unfortunately I had spent the whole week smoking Salvia, without ever so much as opening the windows. My well insulated house had turned into a hotbox. I was horrified: This poor mechanic is going to wander upstairs and he’s slowly going to leave the numale universe and dissociate into the magical Salvia carnival!
I went downstairs to get him some coffee, when I walked back I found him laying on the floor, giggling and delirious: “Oh my God where am I? Why are all these clowns here laughing at me? Why do they have dolls of me? I fell out of my frame, I can’t find my frame back! Hey clowns, where did you leave my frame?” I was shocked and apologizing: “I’m so sorry sir, I should have opened the windows, please don’t tell anyone about this, it’ll end soon… don’t worry!” He began to laugh. “WHAT? Are you kidding me? Don’t you dare open any windows boy! This is paradise! Here I just get tortured by a bunch of clowns for all eternity, instead of getting tortured by my own soul-crushing realization that human stupidity and the tendency of hypersocial people to continually adjust themselves to ever greater absurdities rather than putting up a fight is turning the world into a giant dystopian hellscape!”
We sat down in the living room and I began to explain the wonders of Salvia to him. Instead of having to interact with other human beings, Salvia Divinorum allows you to interact with seemingly autonomous entities, that are the product of your own mind. I was eager to keep this somewhat secret, because I realized that if the government found out about people smoking this, it would probably end up banned. What use is it to build hell on Earth, if human beings can simply dissociate and visit a landscape designed by their own brains?
I was somewhat amazed they hadn’t bothered to ban it yet. My house was filled with live Salvia cuttings, because I had been convinced for a while now they would ban the plant any day now. If that would happen, I would probably have to move on to Datura. I wasn’t looking forward to that. It’s nice to dissociate, as long as you don’t have to see your friends hanging themselves from your ceiling, watch people with blood dripping from their eyes or see monsters in your house that look exactly like the demons in a Hieronymus Bosch painting. The worst part about taking Datura however is that you generally forget taking it as soon as the effects kick in.
I sat down in front of the TV with my new friend the mechanic and we watched a parliamentary debate. The political opposition was livid: “We are now in a level eleven lockdown, but cases are still going up! People are still dying! Do you call this good governance? Germany has made our entire country a red zone again! I’ve said this from day one: What you call a level eleven lockdown, can barely be considered a lockdown! In the United States, a level eleven lockdown means you have antiviral juice sprayed into your colon within ten seconds of insertion, guaranteed! Our elderly are dying, because of arrogant covidiots who can’t wait twenty seconds to leave their homes and lax politicians like you who stand by and allow this to happen!”
On the other side of the isle, the far-right fringe was making itself heard: “As I’ve mentioned before, we were in favor of a level ten lockdown long before anyone else here in this room. If we had implemented mandatory buttplugs soon enough, this curve would not have to be flattened, it would have been crushed. However, what is happening now makes zero sense. Why do we need antiviral substances sprayed into our colon on a regular basis? Can anyone show me any studies that prove this is effective?”
I felt guilty as I watched this debate. I’m definitely not a racist, but the arguments of this far-right wing politician made a lot of sense to me, I was ashamed to admit. Why did we need a level eleven lockdown? If we simply all wear our buttplugs before leaving the house and make sure to wash our hands after inserting them, isn’t that enough to stop the virus? There are no peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the benefits of a level eleven lockdown yet, as far as I am aware. All of this was happening too rapidly for me. I was afraid to say this out loud to the mechanic however, because I realized I would sound stupid and scientifically ignorant.
I decided that I should sedate myself. I filled my bong with some weed and took a big hit. I’m not sure what happened, but I rapidly began to regret it. I wasn’t ready for what was about to happen. The Prime Minister’s face on my TV developed a ghoulish look. I wasn’t sure anymore whether I was watching our Prime Minister, or a Salvia jester who had taken control over my TV. I looked around, my friend the mechanic was gone. Had I taken Datura? I hope not.
I watched as the Prime Minister took off his clothes, stepped into his bath and began to announce new restrictions: “Attention citizens! Because the hospitals are now beginning to collapse under the strain, new measures will have to be implemented. For the next two weeks, everyone will have to sit in a bathtub filled with Dettol, or some other brand of disinfectant. After two weeks, we will reevaluate the situation. Citizens who do not follow the new rules may be moved to a detention centre.”
Well, nothing I can do about it. I decided to take one more hit from the bong and began to fill a hot bath for myself. My eyes were getting red, I rubbed them a little, before I heard my phone buzz. I grabbed my phone to see who sent me a message, when I heard a sudden alarm emanating from the device and a big flashing message:
Alert! Unregistered Uighur detected: Social contact budget slashed by 50%.
Goddamnit. I know this is my own fault. I’m running a bootleg operating system on my Huawei smartphone, which means I’m running a version of the Corona app that hasn’t been updated in weeks. Apparently there were bugs, that meant your face could be falsely recognized as belonging to an Uighur man under certain circumstances. False positive rates have gone down by more than 80% since the new update, but it’s too late for me.
Now I’ll have to jump through all the hoops, to prove I’m not an Uighur. First I’ll have to upload my genealogical record. Then I’ll have to visit my doctor, for a medical certificate that proves I’m not circumcised. Then I’ll have to submit a DNA sample and a fingerprint sample. Fortunately, the data won’t be shared with third parties, like foreign governments. I see a big form on my phone that I’ll have to fill out as well:
-Do you have any children?
-Are you currently using long-term contraceptives?
-Do you have kidney disease?
-Do you still have both of your kidneys?
-On a scale of 1 tot 10, how would you rate the current state of your kidney function?
I can tell my phone is bugged: It’s directly translating from Mandarin to English through Google Translate. I open the config file and change the language setting to English. When I open the app again I’m now greeted by a smiling cartoon panda with a speech bubble that says “Welcome to Corona app”. I pray for a moment. Maybe I dodged the Uighur recognition algorithm. I press next. “Dear citizen, please visit your local GP for a routine medical checkup!” Nope. This is going to take me all day.
There is an upside to all of this however: I have an excuse to leave my bathtub. I get dressed and wander outside. A drone flies by and points its camera at my face. I raise my right arm and pull back my shirt, so that it can check my microchip. It flashes a green light and flies away, leaving me alone. I see it moving in the direction of an elderly lady, feeding breadcrumbs to the starving pigeons in the park.
The lady seems to ignore it, until a voice emanates from the device: “Attention citizen! Without an official permit to leave your house, you are endangering your fellow citizens and displaying blatant disregard for the lives of the elderly.” I see her looking up towards the device for a moment, before she looks back at the pigeons and moves her hand into her pocket. She pulls out some more crumbs and throws them before the pigeons.
I see a bright spark flying from the drone and hear a loud buzz. “You are now tazed, as punishment for your refusal to comply. Further disregard of the rules will lead to more intense punishment.” She takes a step away from the pigeons. She briefly glances at the drone. She puts her hand into her pocket and pulls out more breadcrumbs. I hear another buzz, as the lady collapses onto the ground, along with a now lifeless pigeon. The drone flies away and another pigeon begins to eat the crumbs from her hand.
I think I’m capable of love again.