I did not indulge in many lockdown fads – no homemade sourdough, no DIY projects, and only a very limited dalliance with House Party before realising how depressing it was to drink cheap sauvignon blanc by the light of your laptop screen while talking to people whose lives were equally as uneventful as your own.
But I did embrace two lockdown trends – buying a pandemic puppy and watching the slow motion destruction of my long-term relationship.
Sometimes more time together is the solution to relationship woes but in our case, it highlighted and then became the problem. All that time locked in the same space amplified every irritation until a few crumbs on the bench, a couple of dirty dishes, the sound of the other chewing and eventually breathing become such heinous and offensive acts you wanted to scream loud enough to be heard beyond your 5km radius.
So after six lockdowns, my partner and I ended our four-and-half year relationship just before the (hopefully) final one lifted.
After the initial grieving period, soothed by the very affectionate puppy I managed to keep in the breakup negotiations, I emerged like so many others in the words of that horrible T-shirt slogan “Vaxxed, waxed and ready to climax”.
No longer feverish with Covid symptoms, real or psychosomatic, Melbourne was now hot with pent-up desire.
The dating apps and trendy bars flooded with people hungry for a hot vax summer even if the city’s notoriously fickle weather refused to deliver either the appropriate temperature or season.
But suddenly the lockdown puppy who had been such a reliable companion during so much uncertainty became a reliable roadblock in a time of so much potential.
Now, every date I bring home must first be accosted by the little bronze pooch who has no respect for personal space or dignity – his wet nose a heat-seeking missile drawn to crotches even more than his newly single owner and with considerably less decorum.
His insatiable desire to always be on my lap, once endearing, is now a logistical challenge when I want to be in the lap of another.
And unfortunately my desire for a make-out session is matched only by my dog, who tenaciously squeezes his face between mine and any potential suitor, his tongue – invariably smelling of something unspeakable he’s devoured from the compost bin – leading the way.
Occasionally there’ll be a moment of reprieve as he leaves me and my date alone on the couch briefly to hump his plush toy giraffe beside us, but always maintaining the intense and unbreakable eye contact of a dog who wants only to be reassured that he’s a good boy.
These are not the ménages à trois I’d envisaged for my hot vax summer.
Maybe his behaviour is revenge for the early castration operation he had to endure, or he’s acting out post family break up, or perhaps I ruined him by smothering him to compensate for all the enforced social distancing I had to endure but he’s leaving me with no choice but to engineer every date to end up at someone else’s house.
I hate abandoning him like that but after all we’ve been through in these two tumultuous years, I can’t let my pandemic puppy ruin my hot vax summer. I just need to make sure I’m always back in the morning to walk my good boy.
In the meantime, he has his plush giraffe.