Coming out of the Covid pandemic shutdown has spawned all manner of articles on “social re-entry”. Lunch with one or two friends is my recipe for social re-entry. More than that and I’ll need a lesson in the art of conversation.
The neighborhood social network, NextDoor provides a stepping stone to establishing rapport through small talk. Yes, it’s still online, but I feel connected to my neighbors when they seek suggestions for a handyman or ask which restaurants are serving outside. It’s good practice in case I’m ever in a large gathering again like a party or a church function. I could tell the neighborhood started opening up when NextDoor’s online regulars moved from grumbling about gunshots in the middle of the night to complaining about bad grocery stores:
“I’ve had multiple bad experiences purchasing groceries from this store. Most recently, I purchased sour cream that already had mold in it right when I opened it.”
One post sought a “Depression Buddies” walk-and-talk group for those just starting to venture out. Though I love the idea, I didn’t join because well, I’m hoping my lingering pandemic depression will dissipate as I continue to move past the whispers guarding my door.
For years, a hundred neighbors have gathered at the end of July for a free Beatles Sing Along at a park in Chicago. We all think of it as the best event of the summer. Last year we voluntarily shut ourselves down since no one was gathering indoors or out, least of all singers spewing viral loads in speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Knowing there are many still hesitant to group and sing together, I asked my neighbors on NextDoor: “We’re considering holding our yearly Beatles Sing Along on the steps of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sunday, July 25 at 5:00. Do you see any problems with this? Would anything keep you from attending?” Within a week, ninety yet-to-be-mets responded yes with heart emojis and fifty commented with exclamations like, ‘I’ve lived here for 30 years, how come I’ve never heard about this?”
The best comment: “What would keep me away? A hurricane maybe. Maybe.”
Meanwhile, Amada Senior Care Chicago offered to bring water, handheld fans and visors. Some have asked if they can bring extra folding chairs for those who can’t manage the steps. Yes neighbors! The MCA is jumpin’ to have such a fun midsummer event.
And so are we.
Join us if you’re in Chicago. We’ll give you a songbook of twenty-two Beatles tunes and one exhilarating hour to practice social re-entering, with no expectation of small talk. Bring your good voice, bad voice, in-between voice, marimbas, tambourines, kazoos, guitars, fiddles, horns, castanets, howling dogs — any instrument or noisemaker that suits you. Can’t sing? We’ll sing to you. Come for fun. Take photos. Dosey-Do. Give Peace a Chance. Let it be.
Hats off to the father and son duo of Curt and Chris Powell, our talented choir leaders, who will entertain us with their own set, as we wind down from our Beatles Sing Along.