News Flash

Okay, hey, in case you didn’t know, I just want to pass along this news from Connecticut.  Apparently the pandemic is over.  I had not seen this on any reputable news outlets, so it kind of took me by surprise, but in case you had missed the news, I thought I’d better fill you in.

On Friday evening, I drove out to one of our favorite restaurants to pick up our order.  The usual drill is that I call from the car and someone comes out with the bag containing our dinner, but tonight the phone was busy for about five minutes, so I figured I’d better venture into the restaurant to see if the routine had changed.  

I opened the door and stepped into a scene from some 2019 movie.  There were people crowding around a packed bar.  The dining room was filled to capacity.  Looking to my left, I saw a man whispering (or maybe shouting) into a woman’s ear.  What?  Where was I?  When was I?  I looked to my right, the café  area was crowded too.  A group of three sat around a table slightly larger than a postage stamp.  Two of them were definitely not of vaccination age.  Do they not card in this place?  They were sharing a lot more than stories, too.  You could almost see the aerosols flying.    Whichever way I looked, I saw full tables with laughing, loud-talking patrons.  Everywhere bare faces stared back at me, noses, lips  and cheeks exposed for all  to see.  It would have been breathtaking, but, out of habit,  I still felt that I should hold my breath in public.  

I inched over to the cash register clinging in vain to that passé notion of social distancing.  I wanted to tap someone and ask,  “Did they cancel the pandemic?  Is it just down for the weekend?  When was the announcement?”  People were staring at me as though they’d never seen a mask before.  I wondered if I was living some Rip Van Winkle moment.  Then a waiter approached.  He wore a mask (actually two), and it may have been my imagination, but he looked as nervous as I felt. Had he missed the memo, too? Or was it just certain people who got to go maskless?   I gave him my name, and he hurried off to find my order.  He returned quickly bearing the bag.  I thanked him and rushed for the door.  

I couldn’t wait to tell my family the news. 

15 thoughts on “News Flash

  1. Oh, my. I’m torn between utter dismay and disbelief and appreciation for how you shared this slice. Your bewildered tone was perfect as was the entire third paragraph. I found myself holding my own breath as I read your words. I’m pretty sure my blood pressure went up, too. This sounds like a bad dream with a nightmare soon to follow. Even though I know better, I’m still hoping you made this up.

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  2. This is so disappointing. I agree, at this point, it sounds like a nightmare. Arnauld and I just talked about restaurants tonight and how we couldn’t imagine going to one again any time soon. You captured the energy of a 2019 bar scene well. Sadly, it’s still 2021.

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  3. I live in Georgia, where the governor and Atlanta mayor are at constant odds about how to handle the pandemic. One says the pandemic is real and we should take precautions, but the other believes it’s fake news and opened the whole state long before anyone else. I feel your bewilderment.

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  4. Fear. Fear is what gripped me as I read your words, such a powerfully graphic depiction of a complete lack of care on the part of the other patrons… or is it indifference? I’m not sure. What I do know is that I was gripped with fear from the moment I read your words, and when you wrote, “…inched over to the cash register, clinging in vain…” Unfortunately, I’ve felt that feeling way too often in my own experiences with the mask-less. Thank you for sharing this. I don’t feel alone in my perception.

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    1. There are lots of us who feel that it’s too early to relax. Let’s just hope there are enough of us. I feel bad for the waiters. That scene is way worse than what I deal with at a fully opened school. And I think that’s plenty of risk.

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  5. Your sarcasm is perfect for this piece. And I so sympathize with the double-masked restaurant worker with panic in his eyes, who has to be there. I like your title and the way you begin and end your piece with the same sarcastic news flash.

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    1. I feel like the sarcasm is a defense sometimes these days. It keeps me from making a scene in a restaurant. I remind myself that I don’t really know everyone’s story. I shouldn’t judge, but my gut tells me it’s way too soon to be acting like things are normal.

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  6. I worry about this. Not even recently, but about a month ago or even more, I went to grab a take-out order and I was so nervous in the restaurant. I had to pick it up at the bar and it was packed along with the restaurant and it seemed no one was wearing a mask. I am not there yet…

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  7. This post is so funny, and so sad at the same time! I love so many lines–like the way you begin–“okay, hey”–I love that sense of your voice speaking directly to me. And I loved this line: “I opened the door and stepped into a scene from some 2019 movie. “–It feels like such a stark reminder of how much has changed in a year. I’ll be thinking of this post from now on.

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  8. Magnificent satire, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though I was mentally busting a new door in the wall of that restaurant, trying to get out of there… your wit and descriptions are phenomenal fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. YIKES. My family in SC has noticed a similar trend & is quite worried. I really hope that they are right – the pandemic is over! – because if they are not, well… it ain’t gonna be pretty.

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