Men Vs Machines: My Dad and His 90+ Year Old Friends Learning Virtual Bridge in the Age of Social Distancing

My father  is 89 and has played bridge for many years. He has a  group of four men and  he is the youngster in the group. The senior member is 97.

Bridge and social distancing are problematic because you must sit relatively close to each other, touch each other’s cards and breathe the same air.

So one of the fellows had the idea of playing bridge online. Yes, the eldest person in this group is 97 and these men did not grow up with computers, cell phones or tablets. They do not routinely play games with online strangers or bots. 

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“Hello, My Name is Vickie and I Just Bought a Pulse-Ox Finger Thingy”


I used to be embarrassed about my purse buying.  Kind of like going to a support group and saying “Hi, my name is Vickie…and I just bought another designer purse.” Recently, my passion for shopping has taken a new direction.

My husband Mitch and I have been isolating in a rural county of New York State for two weeks.  Mitch’s daily  “need to know” and my source of increased anxiety is the constant playing of the news.

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What’s So Funny? Laugh Meter

In 2005 my husband, Mitch, created a Laugh Meter to determine humor reactions; it’s based on a scale of 0.5-10. .” It took Mitch over 2 years of observation to finalize the rankings.

When mitch doesn’t get my jokes I typically say, “you have no sense of humor.” He’s just not “laugh out loud” funny. That role goes to his brother, Scott Rubin. Ironically, Mitch probably has more of a sense of humor than most, he’s just more methodical and the result is his chart.

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A Bad Hair Day has a New Definition

Victoria is 62 years old. She exercises regularly, tries to eat well and enjoys a glass or two (or three) of wine on occasion. She goes to the salon to get her hair colored every three weeks, she needed it every two weeks because once the grey root line started and spread it was visible but she was able to color it with a temporary spray for one week. She hated the thought of sitting in the salon chair for hours. Victoria also  worried about the harsh chemicals saturating her hair. She refused to go under the hair dryer as was recommended by her stylist because the thought of opening her scalp pores to allow the dye to infiltrate her body was more than she could bare. Victoria was a bit of a nut when it came to chemicals. Whether her theory was true or not, she was sticking to it.   A small part of her felt shallow spending all the time and money on personal grooming.  

Victoria’s  concern about chemicals  led her to a small hair salon company in Los Angeles (3000 miles from Victoria’s home),a recommendation from her sister-in-law, to buy  permanent hair color made from odd vegetables and herbs. Victoria cut a small sample of her  hair  and mailed it to Los Angeles. The colorist created an individualized shade that was natural and chemical free. Whether this was completely accurate, Victoria didn’t care, she wanted and needed to believe it.  She routinely brought the natural hair dye to her  local hair stylist to apply the color. This, of course, added cost to the frequent routine, but she felt that the less toxicity was worth the price. She also needed to believe this was worth the money.

Victoria’s husband, Mitchel,  is an outdoors man, who came from a  more rural community. At least that is what Victoria thought of his home, as in her New York state of mind, everything north of Westchester was rural.  He hunts (she is a vegetarian), he fishes (she feels bad for the fish), he gardens and plants (she doesn’t like bugs or getting her hands dirty), they were always called the Green Acres couple. Green Acres was a TV show in the 60’s that centered around Oliver a Manhattan attorney and his wife Lisa who was a New York socialite. Oliver, perhaps mid-life crisis or actual insanity,  decides to change their life and moves them to a rural town to live in a dilapidated farmhouse and tries to learn the art of farming. Oliver spends his day learning to live among livestock, the “land!” and neighbors while Lisa spends her days burning dinners while wearing negligees and gowns. Victoria and Mitchel were not to that extreme, but the reference was often  made about them.

Mitchel  preferred when Victoria’s hair was wild and crazy like it was in the 70’s when they met at college. He was a bit of a bad boy then who had long hair, similar to Victoria’s, and  who loved to party. He drove a small blue Fiat that was held together with duct tape. The front fender had fallen off in a minor auto accident and Mitchel realized that duct tape worked well and was a lot cheaper than a repair. The Fiat also had rust that was spreading like a cancer throughout the body of his car.  

In contrast, Victoria was from Long Island and drove a sports car, thanks to her parents. She didn’t have to work a job while attending school and her tuition and allowance were all provided by her parents. Her goal was to receive her diploma and find a husband.

They met at a party and somehow, they clicked. Victoria and Mitchel were married in 1979 and moved to his “more” rural hometown and built a family and a life.

When Victoria was in her twenties, she noticed some grey hair. She let it go for a period but finally surrendered to professionally coloring it, first with henna, a natural product, and later to semi-permanent dyes. Time passed  as her greys became more stubborn and  she finally  moved to the toxic permanent dyes.

Many years were spent coloring and seeing a grey root and coloring and seeing a grey root and  coloring  again to create the illusion that she still looked younger than her years. Most of Victoria’s friends colored their hair too. It was as crucial as going to the gym, a necessary monthly expense that made Victoria and her peers feel good about themselves while keeping the myth.

Surprisingly, Mitchel who liked  everything natural such as Victoria not wearing make-up or coiffing her hair, insisted on Victoria keeping up with the coloring. Although Mitchel was mostly bald and grey, he still had an opinion about Victoria’s tresses. She succumbed to his wishes.

All was going well with this system until March 2020. Life changed in an instant with the onset of Coronavirus (COVID-19). It first started slowly, in fact Victoria had  her  hair colored at the end of February but soon a cyclonic wave of panic consumed everyone, and many hair salons started closing.

Hair coloring was no longer an option at the salon. All the women with unnaturally brown, auburn, red, blonde , blue, lilac and other colors professionally applied were now at a crossroad. Color their hair at home or let it go.

Victoria stays at home during the social distancing phase of the pandemic, as do most of her wiser friends. She guesses that in eight to twelve weeks or eight to twelve months when she comes out of hibernation that the term Bad Hair Day will have a new meaning.

She wonders what she and her friends will look like and if they will care after surviving COVID-19. Will she and others go back to the tri-weekly coloring routine or embrace their natural style and color?

Way Back in January 2019, a bad hair day meant that a bit of grey roots were showing. Victoria guesses it will be an interesting reveal after the quarantines are over.

As for Victoria, she decided to let her hair go grey and be natural. Mitchel isn’t thrilled about this decision, but both are trying to put a bad hair day in perspective. Victoria knows she will be a different person in six months and hopes that not coloring her hair is one of her new routines. She hopes a bad hair day means that she succumbed to the coloring routine and that  a good hair day includes wild 1970’s hair in fifty shades of grey!

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