The setup was similar to previous years, but for the palpable feel of COVID in the air. Oliver, ever receptive to any hint of tension coursing through the zeitgeist, was somewhat on edge, to the point where minor violations of (his) protocol, like only my name being written on the Ziploc bag provided for card-collecting, came close to sending him over the edge. But we made our way, and things simmered to a low, sustainable boil.
There were 40ish participants, each of us bringing 39ish cards, so that we all left with one of everything. My entry was unique inasmuch as there were four parts to it: WE, ARE, HERE, plus a loose-leaf binder ring. I put an example of the ring-grappled cards at the head of the table as a guide, but otherwise left it to people to figure out what to do (leaving one of the most interesting aspects of the night, for me, eavesdropping on conversations among the others: “what, um, are we supposed to, um, take all three?”). Because I put 40 of each card, and 40 rings, out on the table, at the end of the night I had analytics to show that 5 people took only a WE, unable to take the hint (and/or perhaps having nobody to whisper to for support).
It would be a stretch to call the evening “fun,” given the heat, the noise, the mask-wearing, the aforementioned tension. But I’m glad I did it nonetheless, and I’m glad Oliver came with me.