“EF is not a word!”
“Yes it is.”
“How is it a word? What does it mean?”
“I don’t know, it’s a 2-letter word from the approved Scrabble list. It’s allowed.”
“Use it in a sentence.”
“Scrabble says it’s a word. It’s a word Alex. I’m using it, I don’t care.”
The speed at which we’ve descended into board game chaos is one of the few observations I’ve made since my partner and I embarked on our self isolation journey together.
It’s been almost five weeks and although I’m incredibly grateful for the company and affection, and even more so for the fact that we’re able to afford a somewhat spacious two-bedroom flat, I have noticed some differences in our interactions.
“Can you take your shoes to the bedroom please?” has quickly escalated into “the living room is not where shoes live Alex!”
At the beginning of this period my other half expressed an interest in seeing all the 80s and 90s films that I deemed to be classics, and that he had somehow gone through his entire life without watching. Ghostbusters, Karate Kid, Clueless, Beetlejuice, Groundhog Day, Rain Man, Grease, Ferris Bueller… the list goes on. However, as time has worn on there have been grumbles that I have overlooked the inclusion of ‘serious’ films.
“How is Sister Act not a serious film Alex, how?!”
Why on earth someone would want to watch anything other than a feel-good motion picture full of colourful outfits and catchy tunes during these times is beyond me. Though I did win a small battle last night when I convinced him to watch The Little Mermaid. He said, and I quote, that it was “full of solid bangers” so there may be hope for him yet.
Meanwhile, his suggestions include The Evil Dead or several variations of disturbingly surreal and existential noir-esque movies. But we’re already living through our very own apocalypse so I’d rather not be reminded of that in our on-screen entertainment choices I’ve had to remind him. I mean, even Groundhog Day seemed eerily familiar.
Evidently as the more introverted partner in our relationship, he seems to be taking this far better than I am. I seem to flit between anxiety-fuelled lethargy, often resulting in guilt-ridden series binge sessions, or anxiety-fuelled restlessness which presents itself in snippy pass-agg remarks to the only other human being offering to go to the shops and buy me wine.
Admirably, I think he’s using this experience as an opportunity for self-improvement. He’s even started learning Spanish (something I’ve been doing on and off for years since I took it for A-Level and then immediately forgot it all). In an effort to also ‘self-improve’ or ‘be productive’ or whatever those ‘encouraging’ articles are calling it now (you know the ones I mean), I’ve caved and re-downloaded Duolingo. I even purchased a digital piano a few weeks back and have finally convinced myself to practice at least once a week.
So while it’s important to have shared interests to bond over and that can help ease that internal irrational outrage at your partner’s usually lovable quirks, it’s also fundamental to enjoy some individual activities. Mine include sipping an ice-cold G&T while writing sarcastic blogs that I then ask my fellow writer boyfriend to edit. Perhaps the answer is in fact more shared hobbies. We currently take it in turns to use the yoga mat but stretching together, side-by-side, could bring us closer, both figuratively and literally. Failing all else, it may prove handy for those tricky balance poses. It may also help us both do a bit more physical activity. Suffice to say, we are not one of those insufferable couples that go for runs alongside one another and take up the entire pavement. Are couples even meant to be going outdoors together?
Ultimately I am aware that I am extremely lucky to be going through this with a loved one. If for nothing else than for the benefits of living with someone willing to let me get away with questionable two-letter Scrabble ‘words’. And if I’m completely honest, I actually love our heated debates over what makes a ‘serious’ film.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our ‘love lockdown’ in which we tackle our culinary differences – including age-old favourites such as, “did you follow the recipe?”, “you included seasoning, right?” and of course, “a jacket potato with beans and cheese is not a meal.”
“You two should have a podcast” – supportive friend to whom I moan about those quirks I mentioned earlier
“What did he make you watch this time?” – pretentious friend who states even HE’s not this pretentious
“Does your boyfriend even look like Jason Momoa?” – colleague who wonders why my Zoom background is always a shirtless Aquaman