A close friend and I love playing a card game called Spite and Malice. We've played for years and at some point we labelled it "card therapy." Therapy began as a way for me to rehab two surgeries to my thumb joints, removing arthritis ravaged material and replacing with a bit of cartilage from my arm. Later it became therapy as she helped her husband through a cancer journey.
During those times, friends would come visit her husband and, if I was there, we would set up a game. We assured his visitors that if they heard us calling each other nasty names, that meant we were having a really fine time. It's that kind of game.
We have played thousands of games and each one has had it's moments of pride.
It's a game where you try to block the other person's progress and keep quiet when your opponent is missing a crucial move.
During COVID-19 my friend and I have had frequent social-distanced visits, but always outdoors. Conversation is sometimes challenging, since we interact with few other people. COVID-19 gets tiresome and sometimes we run out of jam. The togetherness is good, but we don't always have talking points.
One conversation topic was the possibility of resuming card therapy outdoors when the weather warmed up.
Today my friend, said, "Should we?" I said, "Let's do it."
I thought, "yes." We enjoy being together, but when we play Spite and Malice we don't talk much. Conversation can throw the game. That eliminates the need to come up with non-COVID-19 topics.
We could do this.
We started out thinking masks were necessary, but decided we were distanced enough not to be necessary Besides, masks were going to interfere with ingestion of beverages that are a component of the fun.
We did wear gloves, prompting us to vow to put on some lotion before donning those next time. Old lady skin is already icky. We need to nourish it.
Then things went a bit south. I mentioned the need for dominoes. The card game we play involves many columns of cards and when it is windy we need dominoes to anchor the columns. She brought out dominoes and a score card and pen (not needed for the card game) so she had misunderstood our need for dominoes. I pointed out the card game didn't need a score sheet but we needed cards. The light went on and we were on the same page.
She went back in for cards.
I won the first game. The second was called due to an impending thunderstorm that turned out to be a tempest in a teapot.
Even though we've played hundreds of Spite and Malice games over the years, we were slow off the mark. Gradually it all came back to us ‑‑ the nastiness, the "Hah! You messed up and I blocked you!" and just the fun of pitting our minds against one another. It was as reawakening of our previous normal.
Distance card playing will be a part of our summer. I'm hoping others find similar ways to ease their minds.