Finally – A grown-up evening with friends
Since Mr. COVID came to town, much of the older set has been reluctant to do much socializing.
After all, Mr. COVID is a very bad dude. He targeted those of us who collect Social Security.
For the last couple of years, it made sense to refrain from gathering and taking a chance we might be infected. Worse, we might inadvertently infect a friend.
But Mrs. A called and invited me to her St. Paddy’s Day celebration, an annual pitch-in event postponed for a couple of years. I learned you don't say no to Mrs. A.
When I accepted her invitation, she mentioned she had a couple of jobs for me. Would I mind carving the corned beef? And, by the way, one of our favorite mutual gal pals was a bit incapacitated and could use a ride and a hand with her wheelchair. Could I give her a hand? Who could turn down an offer like that?
So on Saturday evening, the Grandparents Club gathered in her kitchen decorated with crock pots of steaming spuds, luscious carrots, creamy cabbage, Irish soda bread, and a bar stocked with shrimp goodies and adult beverages.
And, for a moment, we forgot about Mr. COVID and just socialized, like grown-ups, chatting about gals wearing glittering green feather boas, sparkling emerald (plastic) necklaces, and other light topics.
Moving through the smiling crowd, it was clear the rest of the gang had not done much socializing either. All of us had hit the pause button on our memory banks, whispering who is that attractive woman or nice-looking man?
I thought to myself, Welcome to Senior Citizens' Land, where mental diminishment is an unspoken but real fear.
For the record, if you misplaced your car keys or cell phone, it does not mean you have Alzheimer’s disease. However, you might have a bit of a problem if you have no idea what you are supposed to do with the garage.
As the evening progressed, we realized we missed ordinary, polite dinner conversation. Soon, holiday tables buzzed with safe topics, like movies, including the Oscar-winning flick, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
One woman said she did not like it because it seemed a bit strange. Another said it was more than strange, and she didn’t understand it at all.
Ocean voyages soon rose to the top of the conversation list as one of my all-time favorite ladies mentioned she planned to take her daughter and granddaughter on a cruise.
That triggered another companion to recite details of being in a tsunami off the West coast of South America.
She said that one woman berated the steward, saying she wished the captain would please stop rocking the boat.
Madam, he said this is a ship, not a boat. And we are rocking because we are in the middle of the ocean in a very, very, bad ocean storm.
Oh, she said.
I refrained from adding my two cents to that conversation for my only ocean voyage was on an LST that rock and rolled its way from Morehead City, North Carolina, to Vieques, Puerto Rico, where the sailors pointed to the beach, then kicked our Marine unit into the deep boiling surf.
Ailments, of course, crept into the conversation as we shared complaints about our creaky hips, ailing backs, and how prescriptions for this and that dread disease threatened to bust the family bank account.
I was not surprised the crowd discussed national politics in hushed tones. Most voiced worries about what might happen if the reports of grand jury probes into the alleged conduct of the former president resulted in indictments.
After a while, the crowd cleared the dessert plates, the leftovers were partitioned out, and the dishes stacked to be washed by volunteers in the morning.
Guests began to gather their coats and we bid Mrs. A good-bye, thanking her for her over-the-top efforts to make her guests feel happy, comfortable and well-fed.
Over the years, we have been to dozens of parties like this, casual pitch-ins with friends, relatives and acquaintances. They provided us with needed distractions from our daily routine.
We missed them.
Driving home in the dark, while keeping a sharp eye out for Bambi and friends, I realized that while Mr. COVID not only sickened and killed our friends, disrupted our schools, our churches, and our business community, he also stole a slice of our psyche.
We are social creatures. We all missed a chance to gather and interact with friends, neighbors and even total strangers.
Thanks to Mrs. A, for bringing us back to reality by hosting a casual and enjoyable evening.
Let's do it again.
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