Last week we had dinner out at a restaurant for the first time since March. It was a heady experience, sitting there with another couple to talk to (!!), people bringing me food and drink. We were sensible, though. We ate outside at a patio, our table positioned a good 10 feet from the next. We arrived in masks, gave our orders in masks (to the masked waitress), then ate and replaced the masks when we left. But it was still magical. So magical because life almost felt normal again.
Where we ate had an already-existing outdoor dining area, surrounded by flowers and greenery, but I’m sure you’ve seen the less successful versions. Restaurants around here without the good fortune to have outdoor seating have slapped a ring of Jersey barriers up in their parking lots, and gathered tables and chairs, some of which look like they’ve been resurrected from someone’s basement. Maybe when the sun goes down (which here in the height of summer doesn’t happen till 8:00 p.m.) it feels a little less Spartan, but I’m not tempted.
Buoyed by our dinner success, a few days later My Guy and I went out to a hamburger spot for lunch. It was grey out and misting gently, and I tried to remember if the restaurant we’d chosen had a covered outdoor area. We arrived, and I saw that it did, but was already filled. Across the asphalted parking lot the restaurant had added a tented area but that had all the charm of a car wash.
We tentatively went inside. Would we like a table? Okay, we said, if we’re far away from everyone else.
Sure enough, we were given a booth off in a corner, the other diners so distant it was difficult to make out their features.
In the center of the table was something that looked a little like a quilt square but turned out to be our link to the restaurant’s website and therefore the menu, accessed with our phones. No need to touch a germy menu, and no need for the restaurant to pay for disposable ones.
Again we ordered in masks, had a relaxing meal, and felt a little as though we’d gotten away with something.
Now if only everyone else would continue to stay home.