- The Zoom Call
The Zoom Call
By Didi Gorman
There’s an invitation to a Zoom call in one of my emails. It’s titled ‘Virtual family reunion with cousin Shane.’
Cousin Shane? Gosh, I haven’t heard from Shane in ages! He’s some kind of distant cousin on my maternal side, and the last time I saw him he must have still been in diapers – it’s been that long! He must be in his mid-thirties now, probably married with kids. I’m embarrassed to admit I had always thought his name was Shawn, but then again it’s been really long time and my memory might be failing me.
To be totally frank, I’ve had so many online get-togethers in the past few days (a Skype call with my mother, a Google Hangouts meeting with my in-laws, and my uncle’s virtual 70th birthday party on Facebook Live), that I kind of crave social distancing at long last. What’s the point of a quarantine if we all meet-up on the internet all the time?
Still, I call in and join our virtual family reunion with cousin Shane.
The call is as chaotic as one would expect. Many family members have logged in and some are clearly less tech-savvy than others. Nana hasn’t figured out the microphone yet, and so it goes:
“Your microphone is on mute, nana!” shouts auntie Hellen.
“Turn the camera to the left, Joey! We can’t see your face,” yells uncle Ralph.
“Everybody keep quiet!” attempts cousin Shane.
“Can you hear me now?” hollers nana.
“Anybody knows where Eugene and Emilia have disappeared? Were they even invited?” asks auntie Hellen.
Some members seem to be engaging in a separate lively deliberation about some other relative. There’s so much noise and such a delay in the sound, that I can’t quite make out if they’re referring to cousin Keith or cousin Kate, or perhaps they’re just arguing about ‘cakes’.
With all this turmoil, nobody notices I’ve just joined the chat.
But then nana notices.
“Oh, hello there!” she beams at me. “Are you Freddie’s new girlfriend from Oklahoma?”
Oklahoma? Where’s Oklahoma?
“No, I’m Didi from Lennoxville, Quebec,” I reply tentatively, “and I’m married.”
I don’t know what they make of this, or of Freddie’s questionable preference for married women for that matter, but they’re all quiet now. I look closer at the screen and I soon come to the realization I don’t recognize one single face there. My nana had passed away some fifteen years ago, I’ve never had an aunt named Hellen, and no one in my family is called Joey or Ralph. Moreover, I’m pretty sure my distant cousin’s name is actually Shawn. Who ARE these people?
Only that now, I have sullied poor Freddie’s rap, whoever he is.
In the end, we sort this out and they’re very nice about it, the Dougherty clan from Minnesota. Lovely people they are. And I really like them. I might as well join their family chats from now on. And if ever things don’t work out in my family here, I know there’s a Freddie in Minnesota and he is free!
*Author’s note: Though not entirely imaginary, this tale is still mostly a work of fiction…*