Dining in

“It feels like I have a life again. We’ve been cooped up,” Marilyn Rau, second from left, said with a laugh Thursday regarding the state lifting the ban on restaurant dine-in service. Rau was joined at Seasons Coffee & Bistro in downtown Bryan by her friends, from left, Trudy Day, Nancy Henry and Cindy Riter. The ladies said they’ve been friends for more than 40 years and even during the dine-in ban, met weekly at other locations, including in their cars with the windows down at Moore Park.

The five Bryan ladies have been friends for 40 years or more. And for just about as long, they’ve been meeting weekly as part of their sorority activities, to socialize, play cards and to enjoy what they call their “birthday bashes.”

“Any way we can get together, we do it,” Cindy Riter, one of the five longtime friends said Thursday, as Nancy Henry, Trudy Day and Marilyn Rau — plus one member who asked to remain anonymous — laughed and heartily agreed.

That devotion was put to the test over the past two months as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, with input from Ohio Health Department Director Amy Acton, issued directives that residents stay at home, self-quarantine and only meet in groups of 10 or fewer.

Yet the ladies said they continued to meet — on Marilyn’s patio, on Trudy’s deck, and even in their cars, in the Moore Park parking lot, with the windows rolled down.

“Always six feet apart, of course,” Trudy said, laughing.

But Thursday, as part of the DeWine administration’s staggered reopening of Ohio’s economy, the five friends laughed frequently as they took advantage of the official reopening of the dine-in feature at restaurants to gather together — six feet apart, of course — around one of the large tables inside Season’s Coffee & Bistro, in downtown Bryan.

Rau seemed to speak for the majority of the group when she said it would take more than a pandemic to bring her down, or to keep her apart from her friends.

“I’m a tough old broad. I’m not afraid,” she said of the virus.

Then, she added, “It feels like I have a life again. We’ve been cooped up,” she exclaimed, as her friends laughed and readily agreed.

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