Like Fermina and Florentino, the main characters of Love in the Time of Cholera, Gen Z wannabe lovers of today may be forced to exchange letters, albeit while wearing surgical gloves and resisting that auto-reflex of applying tongue to envelope.

And if like Fermina’s father Lorenzo, our senorita’s dad gets (contaminated) wind of the relationship, our lovers may be forced to result to less prosaic, 21st century narratives of seduction: email, intimate voice texts, or a snappy app chat through which flirtations can be zinged back and forth like pinballs.

Personal meetings may be problematic. Open air get-togethers are a fairly safe bet, as long as a scrupulous social distance of six feet is maintained. A movie date may be an option, as long as the kids are counted as two of the only ten allowed to squelch across the floor of the dubiously-sanitized inner sanctum of 200-300 seats. A lunch date may be arranged, in which the food is purchased through an app, collected while maintaining the six-foot distance, and then consumed in separated vehicles.

Faced with never being able to fulfill her dream of making out with Florentino, our senorita comes to realize that the relationship was nothing but a dream since they are still, for all intents and purposes, strangers. She sprays down his letters with disinfectant, and returns them. Though devastated and convinced that love is both an emotional and physical disease, our Fermina falls for a wealthy scientist Urbino, who is committed to eradicating COVID-19. Working alongside him, it is our Fermina who discovers the cure for COVID, but at the same time Urbino’s many indiscretions. Once the ban on interaction is but a socially distant memory, Fermina eventually dumps Urbino and connects with Florentino via Facebook. Their love ignites. And yep, the two live happily ever after.

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