Dating humans is rough. Dating humans in a pandemic is even worse. If you’re anything like me, you’d sooner attend a 6 am slack meeting with the whole office after a Wednesday-night living room bender than play another game of virtual 20 questions with a stranger off Tinder. Still, one might find themself choosing to endure all kinds of shitty virtual meetups because, well, there aren’t many safe alternatives these days. That’s why I have compiled this list of super eligible, COVID-19-proof mythical beasts if you’re totally over dating humans, but also don’t want to make any of them sick.

Partners come in many forms. The ethical and trendy choice lately has been to shop local: seeking out partners organically through friends of friends, in the workplace, or maybe even at Target. Perhaps you are more of an arm chair dater and prefer to slide into a virtual inbox of some sort — we don’t recommend this one (read: telling someone they “look really good” after not seeing them since high school). But maybe, you are looking for a more unique and challenging experience. You’re a self-described overachiever and people can’t quite figure out why you’re still single. If this…

“Do you know who I am?” A man in a white jersey emblazoned with a stitched number seven asks me. Of course I knew who it was. Standing there in the middle of a Target in front of the tampons was the Buffalo Bills starting quarterback from 1998–2000.

Back, pictured from left: Hall-of-Fame nerf thrower, bus flipper, young Thurman Thomas, and confused author. In front: very small, lone Steelers fan of the family.

“You’re Doug Flutie!” I wrapped my arms around his neck to give him the tightest squeeze possible. I then woke up to the strange taste of corn flakes in my mouth (See: Flutie Flakes)and to the startling realization that I was no longer eight years old and that one of my childhood…

I sat on the carpet and pretended to be engrossed in the Montel Williams show coming through the giant console television in front of me. But what I was really focused on was behind me: my grandmother—known affectionately as Mother — in her easy chair the same color as a baked potato. She was clicking her pinky and thumbnails back and forth, biding her time until she’d light her next Marlboro Red cigarette.

Mother has always maintained one exceptionally long thumbnail on her right hand. The other nails are comparatively shorter but still pretty long by normal standards. The thumbnail…

Harry Chapin watches over my cat who is cradled with spoon

I don’t need to set an alarm anymore. My brain’s like, “No. I got you!” And every morning at around 7:50 AM, Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” plays in my head and jerks me out of my sleep. Chapin’s hit song entered my subconscious a few months ago and has since given himself an underwear drawer and spare key.

The first sign something was amiss appeared one morning shortly after I mustered up the energy to log roll from one side of my bed to the other. As my big toe made contact with the carpet, that intro riff…


Various succulents set in clay pots in greenhouse.
Various succulents set in clay pots in greenhouse.
Photo courtesy of the author.

I thumb through a dating app late one night, letting the answers to prompts swirl around in my head. The editorial patterns reach absurd predictability:

Oddly attracted to facial scars, big noses, nerdy girls with glasses, girls in STEM, crazy chicks.

Be down to earth, be outgoing, be kind.

I want someone who can handle my bullshit, call me on my bullshit, deal with my bullshit.

I know the best spot in towns for brews, tacos, tacos and guac, tacos and margaritas.

I am overly competitive about everything.

Find me at the party near the dog.

I swipe until the…

Hey, you. Yeah, you, with your exposed cinder-block foundation and twisty wrought iron balustrade. Thank you for letting me sit on you. You’ve provided me with a welcome escape from the living room throughout this global pandemic.

You make a superb platform to sit upon to cast disapproving stares at passersby and an excellent barrier to that guy who walks by everyday around 5 pm and shoots me the finger guns, “Eyyyy. Ya got the best seat in the house.” Thank you, sir. I don’t need to be told.

When I stumble home and collapse on you — letting out…

This Is Us

My immigrant dad, the most embarrassing man on the planet, made no sense until I understood where he came from

Photos courtesy of the author.

When you grow up in a comically rural town like I did, you’re more acutely aware of how different you are for having an immigrant parent than you would be if you lived closer to civilization. My dad, apparently unafflicted by the chronic embarrassment I struggled with daily, did not possess this overt awareness of his foreignness. I remember not thinking anything was out of the ordinary, until it was out of the ordinary.

“I knew your dad was Polish, but I didn’t know your dad was Polish,” peers would say upon meeting my father. At 13, I was pathologically…

I put on my designated date outfit: a black turtleneck and a brown tweed skirt with some large wooden buttons that hit slightly stage left of my crotch. I borrowed this set on multiple occasions from one of my five roommates (this is not hyperbole, and I’m fairly certain it is illegal in the city of Pittsburgh to have this many people on a lease). I could merely mention to this roommate I was going on a date and she’d toss me the outfit. On this particular evening, I text her asking if I can borrow it again.

“I’m pretty…

Image Source: The American Heart Association

He is the kind of guy that should be my type. Through the window I see him in his Hawaiian shirt and chunky cardigan — the same Hawaiian shirt and chunky cardigan he donned in 3/4 of his profile pictures on the Tinder dating app. I regret my curatorial efforts, glancing down at my grey sweater the shade of a millennial’s ceiling. I proceed with caution. Once in front of him, I see his jeans that, I, along with many other women, would simply — and without much thought — deem weird. The jeans were not a full on JNCO…

Alexandra Szczupak

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