Readers, trust me (for I am a journalist) with your lubricious secrets as I ask you these stickybeaking personal questions.
Have you been in situations in which you and your secret lover have, while mingling with others, had to pretend that there is nothing going on between the two of you? What did you and your paramour do (and especially NOT do) in order to maintain that fiction?
As blushes tint the cheeks of naughty thousands of you, Iet me explain what I'm about.
Did you know that what you two did on these occasions (while your deceitful hearts hotly hammered with affection for one another, being careful to never touch, never show each other any special attention) was a variety of the "social distancing" concept now a part of all our lives?
For Cabinet Magazine the scholarly Lily Scherlis (a visual artist and scholar in English at the University of Chicago) has researched and written an engaging essay about social distancing.
With the concept and the words freshly alive in all our lives, she looks at how and where the words "social distancing" have previously popped up in writing in English. One of her bazillion references is to how "an 1865 American serialised novel describes [again, using the actual words 'social distance'] the social distance feigned between secret lovers".
Back to Ms Scherlis and social distances in just a moment.
But first, in a related digression, with my own refined mind cultivated in part by the humanities subjects I did at university, I am especially alert to the news that the government will more than double the cost of studying humanities at university.
To encourage the young to study for "job-relevant" degrees, the government will drop the costs of those workmanlike degrees. Meanwhile those who want to study job-irrelevant things (masturbatory, waste-of-brainspace subjects like history, philosophy and English literature) will need the sponsorships of toff parents.
Somehow (thank you Mr Whitlam, thank you working-class tax payers!) my four masturbatory years of my BA (Hons) studies cost me nothing. And those studies helped make me the poetry-reading, culture-loving, gallery-going, flower-arranging-while-listening-to-Mahler, irrelevant-to-Australia's-needs man I am today.
One can overestimate the magical power of study of the humanities. One newspaper has listed Arts graduates in the federal government's own ranks. There are some deeply awful people on those lists, people who don't seem to have been at all humanised by exposure to the humanities.
But in my own case I notice, every day, how my uni years of job-irrelevant study has tenderised me to the world of ideas, thus inclining me to be always turning to journals like Cabinet and to scholars like Ms Scherlis.
What's more, with my mind Arts-degree-tenderised towards the arts, I recognised the painting with which Ms Scherlis has illustrated her piece, Pieter Bruegel the Elder's famous Children's Games (1560). I also noticed how (for she is a visual artist) she has done some playing-with-our-minds tinkering with it.
To go with her social distancing theme she's reduced the original painting's teeming hundreds of playing, milling, piggy-backing, droplet-exchanging spraying folk to just 62. Each of the 62, now, is self-absorbedly playing/acting alone in a responsibly social-distanced way, giving the 1560 painting an eerie 2020 look. The figures, sparsely dotted in the place, resemble the privileged few fans dotted on the terraces at Raiders' matches.
This debate about universities and the humanities coincides with renewed debate about the shrivelling funding of the ABC.
Just as bushfire-menaced Australians treasure the local ABC radio for its ever-present emergency presence, those of us tenderised by our Arts degrees treasure ABC Radio National and ABC Classic FM for their attention to finer things.
ABC Radio National could almost be called Radio Humanities, bristling as it is with programs about philosophy, books, theatre and with discussions of intellect-tickling things. It feels tailored to those of us who have had job-irrelevant higher educations.
Then there is the everyday miracle of the existence of ABC Classic FM. On Tuesday morning it nimbly attended to the news of the death of Ennio Morricone with reverent playings of his works and informed discussion of his greatness. How the ears of ABC Classic FM's boutique audience of humanities-educated Australians pricked up at this essential, priceless service from Our ABC.