Yet still they walk, two abreast, in that odd mix of toward you and at you. Hmm, you think, I will have to align myself surreally against the side of this building next to me because otherwise there will be no space between us. The couple—romantically linked or not, it does not matter—does not do the simple and correct thing, which is to go single file for the moment to pass you, airy gap between both parties. Instead, they blithely carry on—let’s call it “couple-spreading”—all the way. You and the side of the building become intimate. Nothing must impede the onward march of coupledom.

What is the couple’s resistance to going single file? Could their relationship or friendship suddenly be imperiled if they were made to walk one in front of the other for two seconds? Will they not regain couple normality if required to do this?

Couple-spreading is a sidewalk problem for the ages, now made newly annoying. It used to be that one made snap judgments about people based on how they looked or spoke. An offhand remark or a flash of wit was a personality bat-signal.