Morris: The Card Game Resumes
by Leo Morris
We’re about to have our first weekly bridge game after a year-long hiatus, and I admit to some trepidation.
We’re old geezers, so we will gather with COVID-vaccination protection, but our pandemic overlords have insisted that we stay masked and do social distancing until the Earth’s core cools or the Sun explodes, whichever comes first. So, we might be a little nervous at first as we imagine the possibility of getting raided.
I imagine we might have a lookout, just like the Speakeasies used to employ (but we will be known as a Breathe-Easy), perhaps the 30-something hanger-on who hasn’t had his second shot yet.
He will yell, “Cheese it, the cops!” if the COVID Task Force arrives, giving us time to hide the evidence, the way bookies used to swallow the betting slips and pretend to be doing something benign, like, well, playing bridge.
(Note to younger readers: A “bookie” was the seedy lowlife who facilitated gambling, when it was immoral and illegal, before the state took it over and declared buying a lottery ticket an honorable act of sacrifice to fellow Hoosiers.)
So, if The Man shows up, he will find us not huddled close together over a bridge table, but sitting in the four corners of the room, properly masked, using our reach-it sticks to deposit our cards on a blanket in the middle of the floor.
“Yes, officer,” one of us will say in all innocence, “may we help you? Is there a problem?”
(Note to woke readers: “The Man” is slang for “police officer,” not meant to evoke the hurtfulness of the man-woman paradigm back when we lived in a binary, judgmental patriarchy.)
Failing such an interruption, I suspect the match will go smoothly, with one or two minor hitches.
One of us might slow things down a bit, rushing to the bathroom between every deal to wash his hands over and over.
Another might get the shakes when he accepts a glass of iced tea and realizes how close the host came to touching his hand.
The first person who clears his throat will be suspected of coughing and glared at until he sticks his head in his armpit and pretends to do the right thing.
And I might get a little impatient.
“Will you please shuffle faster? My God, you’re going to wear them out.”
“Hey, I’m an old man, my shuffle ain’t what it used to be. You’ve been playing bridge online, haven’t you?”
“Yes, and the cards show up immediately. I could play five hands in the time it takes you to deal.”
I need to decide what to wear – it should probably be something other than my ratty bathrobe. Somewhere in the back of my closet, I know I have a pair of pants that aren’t blue jeans and actual shoes that don’t look like house slippers.
And I really ought to get a haircut and a beard trim. I’ve noticed lately that the mail carrier backs slowly away when he sees me through the front door.
I’ve been practicing my social skills. If I remember correctly, people in informal gatherings once filled the silence with small talk, idle chitchat about the weather and sports and pets and family, even venturing into politics and religion if they felt brave enough.
I’m a little rusty, but I have a few good lines.
“Hey, have you seen the governor’s new beard? It is very nicely trimmed.”
“Read any banned books lately? You aren’t consorting with any canceled people, are you?”
And, if I feel brave enough:
“Hey, how about that virus, huh?”
Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is winner of the Hoosier Press Association’s award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at email@example.com.