Last Monday was a good day.
I got an appointment time to get my first COVID-19 shot, just a few minutes after applying for the first time online. Getting the vaccination was just as easy.
Later that day, a group of friends who’ve I’ve known for 50 years decided to play trivia once again at a local restaurant. It was the first time we’ve been together since the deadly virus chased most of us into seclusion.
It was good be out and about again. It was good to laugh, to play – and to win.
I’ve known Ed since we were in ninth grade in Orlando. We’re still best friends. Ed was the best man at my wedding. He and his younger brother Don are godfathers to my children. They both were part of the incredible Orlando Evans High team that easily won the Class 4A state basketball championship at the old Jacksonville Coliseum. Ed went on to play at Penn, where he made it to the 1979 Final Four to face Magic Johnson and Michigan State. One of the other teams that year was Indiana State and Larry Bird. Yeah, that Final Four.
Don played four years at Florida State. Although he was 6-foot-9, he eventually taught elementary physical education for nearly 40 years before retiring.
Another one of the Evans players was 6-11 Darryl Dawkins, who shortly after winning the state championship became the first high school player drafted by the NBA. Yeah, that high school team.
Another brother, John, was there Monday night, along with Ed’s and Don’s wives, Betsy and Linda. To round out the team, Ed’s daughter, Rachel, brought a different wealth of knowledge from her generation. (What the heck is a Limp Bizkit anyway?)
We won at trivia because we aced the final question. It’s always the most difficult because it usually involves putting four very close items in chronological order. Monday night’s challenge was (and as the trivia host said, put your cellphone away for this one), put these four Vince Vaughn movies in order, newest to oldest: Zoolander, Wedding Crashers, Pyscho and Old School. The answer is at the bottom.
Trivia on Monday wasn’t about knowing more useless information than anyone else. It had been a year since we’ve all been together. They are like family to me. But we backed away for all the right reasons. At first, we didn’t know what to expect from COVID-19. Some, especially me, were ignorant of what soon became one of the most lethal plagues in world history. In the past year, we didn’t wear our masks because we had to; we did it because it was the smart and respectful thing to do.
While the degree and ages slightly vary, everyone in our group was susceptible to the virus, so we all got our shots. I wore my bandage like a military medal. I was proud to do my part.
As the country slowly emerges from its yearlong hibernation of fear and concern, it is comforting to know we always find a way to persevere. Beating the disease won’t be a political victory for either side. It will be a victory for all of us. We should be grateful Donald Trump helped accelerate testing and the development of three vaccines. We should be equally grateful to Joe Biden for making sure every American can soon get a shot if they want it.
Although I’ve had my first vaccine and have an appointment for shot No. 2, I still plan to use common sense. I will continue to wear my mask because I chose to wear one. I won’t judge others who won’t. I will keep my distance out of respect for everyone else’s safety. I will slowly return to my routine, and I never will take the ordinary for granted again.
Most of all, I will enjoy moving away from the pandemic, being with my friends and playing trivia again.
Until Monday night, there wasn’t any reason to know Wedding Crashers is Vaughn’s most-recent move of the four, followed by Old School, Zoolander and Psycho. Now there is.