With the pandemic limiting in-person meetings, the residents of Pleasant Glen – like people everywhere – turned to video conferencing. And – like people everywhere – they found their results varied.
After a frustrating day of non-stop, disorganized organizational phone calls, 90-year-old Miss Irene asked 19-year-old Trey to help her move her committee work to the cloud. Once all the participants figured out how to share their screens and turn their microphones on, the Zoom meeting proved to be an efficient way to showcase everyone's pets. Despite the background distractions of cats, dogs, husbands and grandchildren, the group finally managed to organize a food drive – something the previous day's phone calls could not accomplish.
In fact, the virtual meeting was so efficient Miss Irene announced at dinner that night that she would be moving her weekly poker game to Zoom.
“But how are you going to deal the cards?” Julie asked.
Miss Irene stared at Julie and blinked slowly. Julie knew from previous experience that during times of apparent age-related confusion such as this, it was far more likely that she was having difficulties with cognitive comprehension than Miss Irene. Both women looked to Big George to explain what each of them thought should be obvious to the other.
“Julie dear, Irene and her friends have discovered that playing cards interrupts the flow of the game,” he said, the twinkle in his eye contradicting the seriousness of his tone. When Julie showed no sign of understanding, he tried again. “It's hard to keep up the pace of the gossip when you're distracted by cards.”
Miss Irene held up her hand to inject a point of order. “We refer to it as 'sharing information',” she said.
“So, your poker games are just an excuse to . . . gossip?” Julie asked, still not understanding.
“Oh, no. They drink, too,” J.J. said, rolling his eyes. “Poker night is code for whiskey sours.”
“Used to be sloe gin fizzes back in the day. But then . . .” Miss Irene shuddered in lieu of further explanation.
“What about your bridge club?” Julie asked.
“Intelligence gathering,” Miss Irene said solemnly.
“Puh-lease!” J.J. threw himself back in his chair and rolled his eyes so hard Julie expected to see them skitter across the floor. “They draw straws. Losers have to play, winners drink mimosas.”
“Only during morning games,”Miss Irene clarified. “Afternoons are gin and tonics.”
“Euchre?” Julie gave it one more try.
“Of course they play euchre, dear,” Big George said. “This is Iowa. It's a state law.”
J.J. shook his head. “Beer drinking and gossip are written into the rules of euchre.”
“But why bother to call it poker, or bridge, or even Crazy 8's if you're not actually playing cards?” Julie asked, her frustration getting the best of her.
Miss Irene shrugged. “A little harmless fun. Just like your 'book club meetings',” she said, making air quotes, “are an excuse to drink wine.”
“But I really do read the books!” Julie protested.
Miss Irene gave Julie the slow blink again. “Of course you do, dear.” she said, patting Julie's knee. “And that's why we love you.”
Miss Irene sounded so sincere and her touch was so comforting that Julie wasn't sure if she should be flattered or insulted.
Meanwhile, Julie's best friend Vanessa was finding it can be just as hard to make a good first impression virtually, as it is in person.
To be continued...