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Stuck Middle: Zooming through the pandemic

Hmm. I can remember not that long ago when zoom, apart from its fundamental speed-related meaning, meant to fool or mislead someone colloquially, as in who is zooming whom?

Now, of course, we have all learned about the new Zoom, as in Zoom meetings and Zoom parties and so forth. I haven’t been to an in-person Rotary meeting since March, but we are now meeting via Zoom every week, and I have participated in Zoom board meetings, a Zoom cocktail party with some friends-of-very-long-standing (I’m avoiding that “o” word I so dislike), and a couple of Zoom family visits. The Empress (TE … my quarantine buddy) Zooms (yes … it’ a real verb now!) with her Mah Jongg buddies every Thursday and has seen her sister’s new house in suburban Chicago via a Zoom tour. Zoom Zoom Zoom.

Okay: I am trying to decide if the Covid virus has actually had some beneficial effects. It has. The whole Zoom “thing” is pretty cool, I think. I have seen faces I have not seen in years and have enjoyed visiting with far-flung family and friends I might not have seen otherwise for an exceedingly long time. And then there is the side effect of Princess II (PII) and her new husband escaping Hotlanna and moving in with us. PII and our son-in-law can work from home, so they have sold their Buckhead pied-a-terre and, in their free time, have begun to look for their Tara-in-the-mountains. Thank goodness we decided against downsizing before all this happened. That decision was nothing virus-related, but our very welcome tenants upstairs most certainly are. And then there are all the wonderful family meals about which I have already written. Regular, multi-generation family sit-down meals are once again de rigeur in our house. TE and I never expected that, and we love it.

And once a viable vaccine is developed and “this” is past being the media’s beloved current chew bone (it sure brought them back into our television lives, though I think their drama is growing threadbare), I think we may all appreciate each other in some almost forgotten ways. More than anything, I miss socializing with our friends on a close and frequent basis. As I have often said, friends are the family we choose, and I miss ours sorely. Facetime, Zooming, and Skype calls aside, I miss an old-fashioned handshake and pat on the back from a buddy, and a sincere hug from his wife after a nice dinner out somewhere. TE misses actually playing Mah Jongg with her girls. Our esteemed elder grandson, Mason, just turned 8 and he cannot even have a regular birthday party with his pack … that’s just wrong in my book. Our children must play again without fear. And we must all forget our differences and remember what we have in common -- why we are strong and resilient. Thank all that is good, we are free, and this forced “containment” has reminded us how valuable that freedom is. We must never take it for granted.

Now I think I will Zoom my boys and see if they’ve learned any new words today. It pleases me no end that one little fellow’s errant mouth made so many people laugh; thanks for letting me know! We need to laugh. Onward!

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Bill Humleker's Stuck in the Late Middle column focuses on children, grandchildren, friends and culture in what he calls HendoRock.