The Dilemma

I’ve been working with a new young immigrant family helping the young woman learn English. She speaks no English (although she can read some) so her husband, who does speak some English, is part of our weekly gathering. We’ve been meeting now for 5-6 weeks and we’re getting somewhere.

This week they invited me for lunch on Sunday – today – along with the people who sponsored them and are providing support to help them settle into the community. I asked the typical Canadian question: What would you like me to bring? Ahmad’s face lit up, he dashed to the kitchen, returned with a plate – could you bring 10 plates? 10 forks? 10 spoons? some serving spoons? some cups? some glasses. They have service for 10 but there are going to be 20 guests.

I happen to be custodian of the dishes and cutlery for the “Thursday Night Game” group in my apartment building so bringing the required stuff is no problem. I dug it out of my storage room last evening, put it all in my dishwasher, then packed it up this morning.

I’m delighted to attend a party given by this couple who are attempting to repay the generosity they’ve received. But I do have a dilemma! There are going to be 20 people in a VERY small space. I haven’t had COVID-19 yet. I hope to keep it that way. I don’t want the cold, or flu that are galloping through the community. I’m also in the age group susceptible to RSV – I don’t want to come down with that either.

Do I wear a mask? I can’t wear it while I’m eating! Do I wear it otherwise? If I do, Basira and Ahmad won’t be able to see me speaking and the visual component of speech is critical for both of them at this point. But I’m hesitant about exposing myself to whatever respiratory viruses are certain to be present.

I was at an 80th birthday party last Sunday – there were about 25 people but the room was much larger and the tables were spaced out so I removed my mask after I got there. But this gathering will be different – the space is tiny and not much chance for people to spread out, or windows to open.

I was explaining my dilemma to my sister, one of the sponsors, who will also be at the lunch. Good question, she responds, “I haven’t thought that one through!” Then she sends me a recent New Yorker Cartoon by Liana Finck – The Great Masking Cycle – in the Nov 28 edition of the magazine:

That sums it up succinctly!