When we are finally allowed back out to play

Image by the wonderful Stuart F Taylor

Do you remember the last time you cancelled plans for a night out? Or the last time someone invited you to a party and your kneejerk reaction was to sigh and lament how far you’d have to drag yourself out of town? Remember the last time a friend was in your area and invited you out for coffee, and you fumbled in your brain for an excuse because you were tired and hungover?

Right now, as we’re being told to avoid contact and remain the fuck indoors, I’m regretting all the plans I cancelled. All the nights out I missed and gigs I couldn’t be bothered with. Looking out of my window at the sun, I cannot fathom how I’d ever have said ‘no’ to an afternoon picnic with friends in Hyde Park, a hike in the country, or a quick pint in a pub garden at sunset.

When all this is over I will say so much ‘yes.’

I’ll say ‘yes’ so often that my lips will form the shape of it even before I’ve heard the question. I will go to bars and picnics and museum trips and Alton Towers. I’ll go to gigs in West London that are two tube changes and a bus ride away, and I won’t even complain if I don’t get a seat.

It’s easy, right now, to beat oneself up for all the opportunities missed in the Before Times. But we probably shouldn’t do that. We didn’t know – we couldn’t know – that we would lose those opportunities, and it’s really hard to understand the true value of something that you don’t think you will ever lose. Instead, I’m trying to focus on how much more I will do in the times that come after. How much more fully I’ll embrace even the most arduous of journeys, the most tedious open-mic nights, the dampest squibs of parties.

When the world shuts down, we’ll all have regrets. But I’m trying not to think about regrets, instead imagining all the plans I will make when we’re suddenly allowed to make plans again.

Imagine the pub outings and day trips, the parties and barbecues and Christmases spent hugging – touchingthe people we love. Picture the first catch-up-over-coffee that you’ll have when the cafés are open. The gifts you’ll give nephews and nieces and parents and grandparents, which you’ve lovingly (and badly) crafted during quarantine.

This time, right now, is death to packed lunches forever. When we are finally allowed back out to play, I’ll eat in busy cafés and pubs, spending money I don’t have on treats with which to stuff my face, in the company of people I can sit right next to. No more homemade sandwiches eaten from soggy clingfilm: I’ll eat fresh scones with clotted cream and jam, and I’ll tip the fuck out of whoever brings them to me. I will fulfil my bucket list dream of saying ‘this round’s on me’, out loud to an entire pub. I’ll hug those people who give ‘free hugs’ at festivals when they’re off their fucking tits on LSD. I might try LSD.

It’s easy to regret what we didn’t do before the world shut down. But instead, let’s imagine the fun we’ll have when the world starts back up again. The fuckfest that’ll happen when the dam of loneliness and isolation breaks, and people pour from their homes and into the arms of lovers, ready to make the very most of every single minute.

Personally I’m pondering all those threesome invites I never extended. You know, in the Before Times, when concerns like ‘will they fancy us?’ and ‘isn’t it a long way to travel?’ seemed like genuine, tangible concerns. I cannot imagine being frightened of rejection, in the After Times: I will only be too delighted to hear a ‘no’, because the very act of having asked the question will feel like a genuine miracle. I will go to sex parties: the ones I was intimidated by before. The ones which made me nervous about my body or my jealousy or my inability to dress up. I will finally haul my arse to fucking Rio’s, goddammit.

When all this is over, we’ll have so much fun. And when I started writing this, the point was to give myself something to look forward to: all the plans and games and fun and sex I’ll have when we’re finally allowed out to play again. To comfort me, and maybe you, with the knowledge that life won’t always be this way.

But there’s something even more comforting than the plans we will actually make: the plans we’ll cancel.

When the burst of joy is over, and we’re free and clear of danger, eventually we will cancel plans again. We’ll fumble in our brains for excuses not to have coffee, and sigh because that party’s so far away. We’ll decide to ditch gig tickets, sneak home early from the pub, and tell our friends we’re sick for no better reason than that we can’t be arsed. We’ll eventually have gorged on so much fun that recovery is necessary once more, and we’ll slot our bums back into the well-worn dip that we’ve put there during quarantine, text ‘sorry I’m busy’ to the people we really love, and fire up a box set on Netflix.

Someday, one day, we will cancel plans again.



  • The Flying Buttplug Tester says:

    One of the biggest casualties of the lockdown is the tickets that my wife and I had for Le Boudoir in April… a full long weekend away from the kids, loads of brilliant restaurant bookings and a night of filth and group sex to be looked forward to…

    Still, we’re staying strong, and on the nights when our libidos havent been killed by the day’s news or the tantrums of our kids, we’re fucking like rabbits, watching a lot of porn, and generally making the most of our toys.

    Silver linings and all that…

    • Girl on the net says:

      Oh mate I am so sorry about your plans! That sounds incredible and I hope that you can rebook at least some of it for when this nightmare is over. I am glad you’re managing to make the lockdown work for you and getting some time to do sexy stuff together. My partner and I are on very up-and-down cycles, where we are taking it in turns to have anxious meltdowns, while the other one is calm and helpful. In between these random oscillations, occasionally we find a moment when we’re both feeling OK and we can fuck. Wishing you the best and hope you and yours stay safe <3 xx

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    This, so much this.

    And I’m someone who says yes to quite a lot of things. But in February I said no to a fetish party, thinking I could give it a miss as the next one would be in May… yeah, that’s not going to happen now. Damn. How long will it be now til I can get to something like that again?
    Even just simple human contact would be nice, since I live alone. The other day, I found myself thinking about the last time I hugged someone; the last time I touched someone… sorry, that’s too depressing.

    But yeah, you’re right here: when this is over and we’re eventually allowed to do stuff again, the parties are going to be epic.
    Perhaps weirdly, I’ve always been a bit scared of dating apps like Tinder. But fuck it, when this thing’s over, I’m going to sign up to every one.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ah fuck I’m so sorry – that ‘wait till May’ thing in particular has to be a real kick in the teeth, but I hope it means that the fetish parties which are planned for *after* this will be especially awesome. Was chatting to someone today about how they’ll manage our release – can’t really have all of us, as one, launching ourselves outside into a big sweaty fuckfest if the virus is still going around. Maybe we’ll have to take it in turns for a few months? Or maybe we’ll get passes like ‘everyone’s allowed out for a massive sex fest, but some people are rota’d on Fridays, others on Saturdays’ or similar. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re alone – I know that ‘virtual hugs’ are a bullshit thing which do not in any way make up for the lack of in-person contact, but fwiw I’m sending love xx

  • Mosscat says:

    Loved this post… I’m way too good at deciding to dodge a night out. And fuck I miss it! I miss touch more than I can say. I work in an environment where we touch a lot – hugs, shoves, a poke in the ribs to make someone laugh…. I even miss the threat of a horse bite! And of course fucking. Oh holy hell I miss fucking…..
    Thanks for giving me thoughts for the days ahead. Stay safe, you x

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