Dating Apps, Corona-Times: Two Conversations with Two “Kings”

“C’mon!” groans Earl Garthwell, a five foot six sophomore chemistry major at WashU. “What am I supposed to do?” he asks, slamming his phone on a DUC table, “take them all sitting down?!”  With its social distancing requirements, the coronavirus pandemic has derailed the sexual and romantic lives of WashU’s student body, forcing many to seek intimacy through dating apps like Tinder or Bumble. 

Some of WashU’s “kings,” like Earl, reminisce of the days where they could just inexplicably appear behind someone at Big Daddy’s and thrust their groin into them without permission and without being held accountable—since we live in a casual patriarchy–for a clear violation of one’s right not to be molested. 

“It’s just tough,” Earl tells me as we pass the chapel, “I want a girlfriend. I want to be in love, and I’m also really horny and sick of beating off,” I nod with partial sympathy, “it’s been too long since I’ve even touched a girl, dude, and the illusion just isn’t there anymore.” 

Earl projects well, which is good for journalism, bad for two folks in public talking about sexual dissatisfaction and pornography. Students turned their masked faces towards us in alarm.

 “I know I’m not fucking when my phone is in my hand and my dick is in the other. I know what’s on the screen isn’t mine. (It isn’t that size). I don’t deserve this.” This last sentence is philosophically up for grabs, but I’m a poor ethicist and won’t pursue it here. 

Earl, while surely aggressive, isn’t alone in his troubles. I caught up with junior writing major and art history minor Joel Entity, who I observed had taken up longboarding over the break as he ripped down the Forsyth sidewalk. “Yeah, I mean Tinder’s definitely not the same,” he said to me, “I was talking to this one chick the other day, goes to SLU,” I nodded with partial empathy, “I mean she was cute but I don’t think I could talk to her in real life, if I did I would end having to say shit like, ‘yo, that’s so woke,’” he imitated, “‘yo, that’s so problematic, yo, I love Travis…’” he sighed for our generation, “like c’mon, what are we doing?!”

“Only what we can,” I responded, “we are helpless and guilty.”

“Fuck into forgetfulness, fuck into tomorrow,” he muttered absent-mindedly, with virile poeticism.

I was then going to inform him of how I found this utterance rather problematic, but deferred to the satisfaction of exposing him in print.