The moment I knew: we were ‘intimate partners’ during lockdown – then he asked me to be his Potato Queen

Milan and I matched on a dating app in April 2020, the early days of the pandemic. Melbourne was in hard lockdown so our first two dates were via Zoom. I appreciated Zoom dating for its convenience and minimal effort – I didn’t have to leave the house, pants were optional and the bottle of wine was always within reach.

On our first date, Milan apologetically said he’d have to pop out partway through to join a call with his mum and grandparents. I thought it was cute that he would prioritise his family over a date (especially with someone as potentially charming as me, for all he knew) and I didn’t object. Part of me wondered if it might be a ploy to escape the date but he actually returned and we chatted for two more hours that evening.

Soon we progressed to something meeting the government’s definition of “intimate partners” which, among other things, meant we were allowed to visit each other’s homes, a huge win after I’d been spending 23 hours a day in the bedroom of my sharehouse. The pandemic accelerated our intimacy, given his house was the only indoor place I was allowed to go other than my own and the supermarket. We also, sensibly, discussed the exclusivity of our relationship sooner than we would have otherwise, through fear of spicy-cough transmission.

Someone had once given Milan the nickname Potato King. The boy really loves potatoes: his first job was at Lord of the Fries, he relishes the fanciest chips and his freezer harbours many varieties of frozen potato. So naturally on one of those many wintry lockdown nights, we settled in to make a potato gem layer bake with whatever we could find in the kitchen. I remember it included pickled cucumbers and spring onions, and probably beans (he also loves beans). We poured the potato gems out of the bag and the amount didn’t look like enough, so we kept pouring.

That night we ended up consuming an entire 1kg bag of potato gems. Curled up in bed later, both of us bloated and satisfied, Milan shyly asked: “Will you be my Potato Queen?” I felt so comfortable and safe in accepting this silly little title from Milan that I knew then I was on to something special.

‘We’ve boasted his and hers mullet haircuts for more than two years’: Shannon Regan and Milan outside the Spud Shed in Trafalgar

It’s not just potatoes we have in common – there are lots of ways we are compatible. From big-ticket items like embracing a child-free lifestyle (Milan had a vasectomy about a year after we met, much to my joy) and not eating animals (though he’s a much better vegan than I am vegetarian); to the small things such as agreeing that farts are hilarious and that swimming isn’t fun. He enjoys mixing cocktails and I take pleasure in drinking them, and we’ve boasted his and hers mullet haircuts for more than two years.

I’ve never dated someone as openly affectionate as Milan. Since the beginning he’s made it so clear he likes me: in the way he hugs me, the way he looks at me and the way he listens to everything I say. He has taught me how to love myself more and the fine art of lazy Sunday mornings; I’ve encouraged him to become more engaged with his community and empowered him to explore with fashion and style.

I love and trust Milan deeply. When I’m with him, I can be my most honest self. Although I understand our relationship, like anything, won’t stay the same forever, I’m confident Milan and I will put in the effort to keep each other happy. May the Potato King and Queen have a long and mighty reign.

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