Picture the scene: it’s the year 2025, and you’re finally allowed to take a bus instead of walking the five minute journey home from Sainsbury’s. Restaurants and bars have re-opened, you can approach other humans without worrying their touch alone will kill you, and have been given permission to resume your miserable existence in an open plan office which you can no longer get into because you lost the keycard in your house, somewhere, about 2 days into WFH isolation. You also now own a bike.
You probably think you know how you’re going to greet people for the first time after lockdown, on that sweet sweet day when standing 6 ft away is no longer the law. You might think you’ll just rub yourself up against anyone and everyone the moment you can. But I’ve given it some thought, and there are only really 5 ways this is going to pan out.
1. Enthusiastically running towards person, at speed
Who you’ll greet like this: No one. This will not happen. After months of pretending to enjoy jogging, Londoners will revert to their previous state of moving quickly only to catch a) public transport or b) last orders at the bar.
2. From a distance, waving awkwardly, mouthing ‘oop! 2 metres!’, claiming to still be on the government’s vulnerable list
Who you’ll greet like this: Work colleagues; complete strangers asking to share your table at the pub; complete strangers walking towards the spare seat next to you on the bus; small children with visibly runny noses; person you’ve been chatting to on Hinge for several months who isn’t nearly as good looking in real life; offensively drunk 20 year olds outside Shoreditch Tesco; long haired chalky-hands guy with the ying-yang tattoo from your newly regrouped yoga class who finds mats, pants and t-shirts “restrictive” so is wearing only his cycling shorts, who got there early to stretch and is asking everyone who walks in if he can give them a “post-lockdown hug”.
3. Collapsing with joy on first sight, crying and shouting from slumped position on the floor, exclaiming through tears, ‘GOD I’VE MISSED YOU, I’VE MISSED THIS, YOU ARE SO GREAT, THIS IS BEAUTIFUL, OH MY GOD SO GOOD, IT’S BEEN SO LONG, LET’S PROMISE TO ALWAYS BE THERE FOR EACH OTHER, I’LL NEVER LEAVE IT THIS LONG EVER AGAIN’
Who you’ll greet like this: Literally every bartender in every pub.
4. High five, side hug, pat on the back, muttering: ‘Good to see you mate.’
Who you’ll greet like this: Close family members and extremely good friends you’ve spent the last few years crying about, and communicating with solely through the medium of eight day old TikTok memes sent over a Whatsapp group called Quaran-team, via pixellated screens of grainy webcams, consecutive free 40 minute Zoom calls, poker games, baking photos, drunk 11:30pm FaceTimes, fuzzy wifi, and quizzes where one round is simply: “wine”.
5. ‘There you are! Come here! Come on then! Come on! Hello! Hello! Oh, look at you. Look at your lovely face. What a lovely face. So soft. Oh come here, you. Yes, oh, lovely! Aren’t you lovely. Come on then. Get onto my lap. Ohhh, big hug. There we go. Big hug. Do you want to come home with me? Do you? Do you? Of course you do. Come on then.‘
This lil London nugget originally appeared in my weekly newsletter. You get something like a personal bit of writing about me and London, and some links to fun stuff I’ve seen that you might like too, and it’s loads better than a kick in the teeth. Sign up here.
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