Keep your distance, but stick together: The virtual pub

Isolation is not the natural human condition. That’s why stories of people like Birdman of Alcatraz and Maxime Qavtaradze, a 63-year-old Georgian monk currently living at the top of the Kataskhi Pillar, a 130-foot tall limestone rock, are so fascinating to us. We are a community species by nature.

So the current need for self-isolation and the curtailing of social contact is hard. No matter how well we understand the science and math of contagion, we tend to rebel.
Fortunately, humans are also brilliant. (I could certainly qualify that statement for pages, but I won’t now. You’re welcome.) We’re brilliant at coming up with ways to get what we want. We’re brilliant because we’ve invented ways to be together even when we’re really not.

Take this as an example, and maybe inspiration, to avoid loneliness and grumpiness in the following months.

For a couple years, my near-daily habit has been to drop in at Dick & Dixie’s after work, order a can of wine (yes) and talk, gripe, argue and otherwise communicate with a group of fellow curmudgeons, or, as fellow curmudgeons Ken Sanders and Trent Harris like to refer to us, “Zombie Apocalypse Survivors.”

It’s a very satisfying transition point between work and home. We missed it, unreasonably. It’s not like we were solving world problems or having intellectual discussions beyond whether it was Donovan or Dylan who recorded “Corinna, Corinna.” (I was right, it was Dylan.)

So Trent Harris (the creative) suggested and Jeremy Pugh (the not-a-Ludddite among us) set up an online bar hang on Google hangout. With our usual beverages in hand and faces on the screen, we had the usual chaotic, talk-over-each-other, uncharted conversation, ranging from political and historical rants (brilliant historian Will Bagley and columnist Robert Gehrke, although mostly we rant on behalf of Gehrke, to poetry (Ken, though we beg him not to), stupid politicians (we’ve never heard of any other kind) and laments for our lovely bartender, Katie.

You can do this too. Have a virtual dinner party. Have a virtual kaffee klatsch. Have a virtual book club. It turns out, what we need is to see each others’ faces, or as my late husband would have termed it, “ugly mugs.”

We have to stick together while we’re staying apart.

Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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