Ground Hog Day is over for now! When summer 2020 started on Martha’s Vineyard it didn’t seem like we would be able to see our friends at all. My husband and I were committed to the 6 foot rule, the mask rule, the no guest rule. We were abiding by the multiple hand washing rule, and definitely no one would be allowed inside our house.
It was just the two of us. And we did a pretty good job taking care of one another. We weren’t able to boast about our kids moving back home and too many people to cook for. And frankly, when our friends whined about that on our zoom calls we usually MUTED them.
With one of our 4 kids pregnant on the west coast and another one just delivering a baby …. and still another just bought a new house and were settling in all the way in sunny LA and one more in Maine happy to be be isolating, we were finding our silver lining with each other. And it worked for awhile.
We looked to each other for yet another round of backgammon thinking about how lucky we were to have a playmate. We stayed cheery. We celebrated what a great job we’d done raising our kids and that they were so independent and didn’t need a thing from us. (At least we tried to make ourselves feel better about not seeing them). We counted our blessings. Sure it was a bummer that the dog had died, and our annual friend visits were all cancelled, but hey!
Each night we zoomed and nodded off on the couch to series after series of Netflix. We made our gratitude lists every morning, but not our grocery lists. Who likes to cook for 2 – not MOI! We comforted each other and ate alot of peanut butter on multigrain because we both hated grocery shopping. Poached eggs for dinner were pure comfort before another episode of Shitt’s Creek. We tried to ignore each other’s worst traits but distractions were limited so we walked 10 miles a day on our own to air out a bit.
And this went on and on and on.
And then enough was enough! The Covid scare of March and April had managed to whittle away our independence. We knew we were lucky to have each other but after 2 months of holy matrimonial living….we were chomping at our bits.
Thank goodness our home had plenty of outdoor space and we began to imagine inviting one couple over. And, so we did.
Our first victims arrived. They came in, as instructed, with their masks. We pointed to the couch near the fire pit.
“PLEASE SIT THERE.”
“WE will serve you.”
And then we softened a bit seeing they were compliant and still smiling…
“No you can’t do a thing just sit. This is the best part of being a guest during Covid. You don’t have to feel badly about not helping out in the kitchen.”
“Please sit down, seriously! We are so happy you are here but don’t move from that couch!”
“Sorry, did that sound too bossy?” We felt a bit self-conscious and rough but we were so out of practice. We hadn’t had real live people – off-screen — in our clutches in months.
“No worries, we are all learning how to do this,” they kindly chimed in.
We all agreed there were new rules to play by. We all felt so awkward. One couple calling out the rules, the other couple trying to politely follow along.
“When we come to you, you can be the boss,” we sheepishly suggested.
We presented them with their own appetizer platter. Cheeses and nuts, and dried fruits and chicken wings and veggies on their very own lovely butcher block serving tray.
And we sat for hours, once we were done bossing them around. And soon we let go and hung out and gave ourselves over to this new kind of visit.
And we started to peel the layers away and our conversation was so much deeper and more interesting than we had ever had. Without distraction and other options, we all tucked in.
“Can I use the bathroom?”
Wow, I looked at my husband, that’s a curve ball if ever there was!
“Hmmmm, do you want to pee over there? I don’t think it will stunt the growth on our Rose of Sharon, or would you prefer behind the grill? That’s where our pup loved to pee, poor girl.”
“Well, hmmmm, such lovely options, okay, thanks….I can pee behind your grill, it just feels a bit more private.” “Is that where everyone goes?”
“Nope, just the dog. But she’s gone. And, you are our first guests, it’s like getting to the porta potty first before the throngs. “
Ha ha, my husband and I chuckled to each other, proud that we were developing some real Covid humor.
When he returned from his mission, I suggested he use the purell I had put on his appetizer plate.
“I just don’t love the Purell — do you have a hose perhaps, I could wash my hands and rinse off.”
“Oh please don’t get up, we can help you. ” So I hosed down our friend’s hands and felt badly that the water had sprayed all over his shirt.
“Let me get you a towel… no please don’t get up, just sit there…I said just sit, yes sit, seriously you are too close to me now. Ok thank you, perfect. That spot you’re sitting on will dry soon enough but I will fetch you a beach towel to absorb the moisture.”
We all chuckled. (I think they were laughing but what were our options)? It was like being in pre-school. Lots of rules, only the hosts got to be in charge. So glad we were the hosts. I personally hate people telling me what to do.
As the hours passed and there was just a smidge left from the second bottle of Chardonnay, my husband nudged me.
I turned to look at him more closely as I wasn’t following his “code.” And then I noticed his eyes were closed. He had jolted himself awake and kicked my leg but was back into his snooze.
“Oh my, he’s in a deep snore,” I proclaimed.
And as I looked across to my friend I noticed she was laughing. Her husband had nodded off as well.
Gleefully, she and I poured ourselves another glass and continued our visit deep into the night. We giggled about how this was a perfect start to our new way of socializing and with our husbands snoring in tandem we were convinced our husbands would agree.
Were we all really laughing?
But, it turns out it gets easier to socialize with people who have the same philosophy about responsible We have moved on in our little community It’s so hard to know what to do. How do you visit with friends and plan outtings. during Covid?