When we first ran this post last November, it never crossed our mind that, almost nine months later, we'd still be unable to take our mom out to dinner at The Palm, her favorite Houston restaurant. And even though the three of us have been fully vaccinated, given Mom's age, we can't chance indoor dining while the Delta variant runs rampant in Houston.
Not only is it incredibly sad, it's also highly frustrating as she might not get to eat there before they move to a new location in downtown Houston. (We wonder if the cartoons and caricatures on the walls, including one of Black in her Ferrari racecar, will be moving, too.)
It was bad enough that we couldn't take our mom for her traditional Mother's Day lobster dinner at The Palm (although we never celebrate it on the actual day as restaurants are too crowded). Thanks to the pandemic, restaurants were either closed or take-out only. Given our mom is in her 90s and has pre-existing conditions, she was distancing herself from the rest of the world and basically secluded at home. (Something, by the way, she's definitely not happy about.)
We never dreamed, however, that …
six months later we'd have to forego her November birthday celebration, which is the same lobster dinner at the same restaurant. Clearly for our Mom, going out to dinner at a nice restaurant with her daughters has always been a special treat and something she looks forward to (or maybe it's just the lobster). While, for Red, going out to eat used to be a fun and relaxing escape from cooking at home, now it's a risk-reward decision filled with anxiety and stress. And always the same decision, "Not worth it." For Black, it's always been a "social thing" as she's had a long-standing (decades long!) Saturday night date with her best friends, John and Diana. Now, they visit over the phone and laugh about how much lower their AmEx bills are every month.
From a strictly pragmatic perspective – How do you maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household when you go out to eat? Obviously, you have to take off your mask to eat and drink (although there are masks that accommodate straws). Is it even feasible to go out to eat with people not in your "personal bubble"? Climate and weather permitting, how safe is it to eat outdoors?
But it's the emotional implications that make it so difficult. We're now in the midst of what Red calls the "silly season" where dining out and holiday parties have always been such a big part of celebrating the season. The pandemic has been with us for almost a year and we just want a break. A holiday break. So, now what?
The answers will be different for everyone, as we all have our own way of looking at risk-reward. Most of us are already struggling with holidays that are celebrated with food, family, and friends. Maybe if we focus on the holiday spirit, recognizing we're all facing the same challenges, and try to keep things in perspective, knowing next year will be better. And mix in a little humor …
Got your mask? Check. Have your battle plan ready. Check. Ready to keep distance. Check. Going into battle? No, just going out to eat.
P.S. – For those of you wondering about Mom's lobster dinners, we did a belated take-out for her Mother's Day dinner and she said it was the best lobster she had ever eaten. Full stop. And she's looking forward to the birthday dinner. Maybe, it is just the food.
Quick! Define literacy (without Google or Siri's help). Ok, finished? We bet that you may have stopped at the ability to read and write. Which, technically, isn't wrong. It just isn't completely right, either. Which is what Red found out when she discovered, much to her surprise, that it includes such critical areas as financial, digital, and health literacy.
Red even admitted to Black that she didn't understand all those terms, although she had another concern … was Black going to use her as a poster child for her lack of literacy skills in this month's column, "RED & BLACK … A Blueprint For Life?!"
P.S. – This month's column is in honor of September being Adult & Family Literacy Month.
Want to read other columns? Here's a list.
|I can't believe how quickly the year's flying by. And that tomorrow's already the fall equinox.|
|I cannot believe that you know that but did not know when Rosh Hashanah fell this year.|
|I got the dates mixed up. And I'll admit I had to look up the fall equinox date because it also varies slightly from year to year.|
|Technically, the equinox is not a day, but rather an exact moment – when the Sun crosses the Equator.|
|Picky, picky, picky. But if I remember correctly, although science class was decades ago, on the equinox, we have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime.|
|Not exactly, but close enough. But, why are we even talking about this?|
|Because it marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall.|
|Only on the calendar. We live in Texas, so if you use temperature as a guide, fall weather is at least a month away. And, if you are waiting for foliage season, you will have to head north as it does not happen in Houston. Or, settle for some spectacular photos.|
|That's one of the things I miss most, but I love everything about fall – from the early morning "chill" in the air to pumpkin spice lattes (well, really, pumpkin "everything" these days) to the fall holidays. Especially Thanksgiving.|
|OK, but you have always referred to that as the "silly season". That once Halloween arrives, it is full speed ahead until just after the New Year.|
|Thanks a lot. I was thinking about how it's my favorite time of year, and you had to remind me that it goes by way too quickly.|
|So, maybe forget about the Sun and the Equator, and use the fall equinox as a "reminder" to try to stop and enjoy … not only the official beginning of fall but the entire "silly season".|
Initially, I just chalked this up to being "old" and accepting the fact I remember telephones before they were "smart" (and will admit they can make me feel "less-than-smart"). I am old enough to remember rotary dial phones (see the image above) where you had to place a finger in the hole associated with the number, then rotate the dial round to the end-stop and let the dial return under its own power. I will not go into the science behind it, but it was extremely reliable – although very hard on your manicure.
But, this is not about the history of telephones or the associated technology that has improved to the point computers that once required a large, air-conditioned room can now fit in your back pocket or handbag. This is not about us all (regardless of age) needing to be digitally literate. It is not about the fact the older we are, the larger the screen size we prefer, although we might claim it is a function of what we are used to versus admitting to declining vision as we age.
Rather, this is about a recent experience that first made me feel old. Then roll my eyes. And then open my eyes to an opportunity.
I was on the phone (a cordless landline – not a rotary dial or even a phone tethered by wires) with a customer service representative from a high-end designer company. We were discussing an order, and he said they would keep me updated. However, they could not do it via email (my preferred method of communication) but would text me using the phone number associated with my order and that he saw on Caller ID. I said that the number would not accept text messages as it was a landline, but they could leave a voice message.
Apparently, that totally confused the rep, as he repeatedly said he did not understand why they could not text me. And, I kept repeating, almost like it was a mantra, "because it is a landline." Finally, he admitted that he had no idea what a "landline" was … and I started to suggest he find someone "older" to explain it. But, then realized this was my opportunity to explain it to him.
I explained the difference between mobile phones and landlines, but also suggested he discuss the situation with his supervisor as the company sold very expensive consumer goods, and I would think many customers were older and might be using landlines. Surprisingly, he was interested in my perspective and admitted to never having thought about it. And then, he thanked me for taking the time to explain it versus just complaining. (As a customer service rep, I would guess almost all his conversations were complaints – not actual conversations).
There is so much for us to learn and share when it comes to technology and how we communicate. Some people prefer emails while others can only be reached by text; some want phone calls while others can only be reached with a "chat" feature. Regardless, our ways of communicating can be used to divide us – or unite us.
I will admit that I can be confused when confronted with new technology if you will admit that you can be confused when confronted with old technology.