Back when I was in college, every Wednesday evening we had “Snacks”. This was an event, not just a food. The Resident Advisor organized it for the entire dorm, and everyone would go down to the common room with their mug, fill it up with tea or coffee, grab a cookie or two, and chat. Sounds lovely, right? Well, every Wednesday evening, just before Snacks was due to start, my friends would come and get me and I would say NO! No way, no how. I’m not going to Snacks. They couldn’t understand it, and we joke about it to this day. But the whole idea of it filled me with dread. What? Me standing around in a group of people, chatting about who-knows-what with with-knows-who? Forget it. I used too much homework as my excuse – there was always some novel to read or some paper to write. But the real issue, I admit now, was that I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to talk to me. Sure, I’d enter the room with a friend or two, but then they’d go off to some other group – friends of theirs and not mine – and I’d be left looking around awkwardly not knowing what to say and being too shy to approach someone new. I might have come off as aloof, but really I was painfully uncomfortable in groups. To be honest, even after decades of cocktail parties, conferences and dinner parties, I still feel basically the same. How can I assume that anyone would want to talk to me? How dare I?
So now here we are, 2020, a raging pandemic engulfs us and the whole world is trying to find new ways to keep sane, and our sanity depends, for a large part, on our ability to interact with others. As the weather on the East Coast warmed up and people started to venture out of their homes. people started to talk about ‘bubbles’. You’d be okay if you limited your interactions with a small group of trusted friends. Choose your bubble and you’d be safe. But NO! It’s just like Snacks! There are so many people and they all know each other and would prefer to be with them rather than me. A month or two ago, we were having a Zoom talk with some dear friends and the subject of bubbles came up. My husband assumed we would all choose each other but I slapped his leg without thinking and blurted out, ‘Don’t assume they want us. They have other friends.’ Everyone laughed. But still. Of the many horrid things about CoVid, one unexpected horror is that it would plunge me back into the dreaded agony of my youth. CoVid Bubbles. It’s Snacks all over again.