The good news is — our family recently got our second Pfizer shots. Now we’re just waiting for the two weeks after to be up so we can be normal again.
The bad news — I’m not sure we know how to be normal again; and by we, I really mean me.
What do I mean by “normal?” Excellent question. I mean being able to be around other people not in my immediate family and be okay and not feel panicky and act irrationally — because if you ask my family, okay, me too —I’ve been anything but rational.
Case in point — Husband David, son Ryan and I celebrated getting our second Covid 19 vaccines at our local hospital by immediately going out to eat at a biscuit bar afterward. The trendy, and what turned out to be a fast, casual restaurant provided plenty of outdoor seating, which is the hard and fast criteria I have for eating at a restaurant. Also, the weather was perfect for eating outside. It was in the low 70’s and the sun was shining and there was plenty of fresh air and blue skies. So far so good.
WHERE DO THEY ALL COME FROM?
Not so good? People. There were so. very. many. people at 9 AM. Some were wearing masks. Others weren’t. And they were all breathing. Fuck. If it had been just me (as though I’d go to this place by myself, ever…), I’d have been long gone.
But we, as a family, were celebrating; and Ryan had been looking forward to eating here for a month; and I had promised him that we’d come here, of which I’d been reminded by both a disappointed Ryan and an adamant David when I suggested that we find somewhere else less people-y to “celebrate” and so…yeah. I acted like an adult and sucked it up (not the air, ew…gross.) What I mean is I sucked up my desire to run out of there as fast as I could and, instead, followed through on my promise to Ryan, while praying that no one around us had Covid.
BTW, is it just me or have you also noticed that people look at you funny whenever you pray in public? It’s probably good that I didn’t end my prayer by saying ‘God is Great’ or some other version of that. As it was, some of the people in the crowd looked a little twitchy, as though they were ready to run if I said the wrong thing or moved too quickly. On the other hand, praying in public probably bought me an extra foot or two of social distancing. Please feel free to do this if you’re feeling a little too…crushed. I hope it helps and you’re welcome! 🙂 Of course, I might have been a little paranoid. Not sure.
Also, David wasn’t impressed when I did this.
Ry, David and I stood in line (no social distancing) for about fifteen minutes before we were able to make our way inside the eatery to place our order. Then the cashier gave us a number to put on our table so wait staff could find us when our food was ready.
It seemed odd that the three very busy registers where you place your order and pay, and the beverage counter where you serve yourself coffee, soft drinks and tea were both stationed at the front of the restaurant, across from each other. The waiting line, of course, converged with the registers and beverage/utensil counter, kind of in the middle of the two, so the area was filled with a bottleneck of people trying to figure out how to get to where they needed to go, preferably, intact. The line of customers went out the door, past the large, outdoor dining patio, where the majority of people were, and onto the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. In terms of trying to stay out of the fray, it was impossible.
As you can imagine, it was claustrophobic just inside the restaurant with so much in this small space. People were accidentally bumping into each other, some with masks on, but more without. Chaos reigned — people were ordering, paying, grabbing utensils and beverages and then fighting their way back out the same door that people were coming in. Wait staff, delivering food, were also maneuvering through the crowd. As far as I could tell, everyone was coming in and then immediately going back out of that one small area. Oh, and then there were customers trying to get back into the restaurant from the patio to get REFILLS.
Pre-Covid, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about any of this. Eighteen months later-ish, as we are nearing the end of the pandemic, my whole perspective’s changed. I no longer witnessed a happy crowd out to enjoy breakfast at a trendy new restaurant. Instead, my senses and physical being were assaulted, and I was horrified at the sheer and utter madness of so many people in such a tiny area.
Wanting nothing more than to escape, I looked around. In the back of the restaurant, there were nothing but empty tables. No one was sitting indoors. And why would they on such a gorgeous Texas morning in early May? So that’s where we sat. At the very back of the dark restaurant. Away from all of the people. Breathing.
There was a cushioned bench up against the wall at the far end. That’s where Ryan sat. He had a perfect view of everything happening inside. That left David and me to sit in chairs that faced Ryan, which meant David and I also faced the back wall of the restaurant. Fortunately, our food came out quickly. Then, others found us.
assholes lovely individuals sat at the table right behind where we were sitting. There were other empty tables in the restaurant, of course. But this particular table easily sat between ten to twelve people, so this is the table that, apparently, worked best for this group. I’d say there were at least eight men and women in their twenties. Unfortunately, none of these twenty-somethings knew how to say, “Excuse me,” as they forced their way between their table and David and me.
Smashed against our table, David and I were roughly jostled from behind. There just wasn’t enough room for people to easily walk through the too narrow aisle behind us and their table. Because it wasn’t this group’s fault, David and I quietly sat in our chairs and waited for them to settle down.
Then the wait staff showed up for this table, again, trying to get down that atrociously miniscule aisle. Then various people got up to get refills. Someone had to go to the restroom. Sonofabitch. Couldn’t they just sit still and eat their damned food?
Unfortunately, all of these people were laughing, eating, enjoying each others’ company and — breathing — without masks on.
So essentially, we went to the back of the restaurant to escape the throngs and ended up getting trapped instead.
I just want to say something on my own behalf right here. Family and friends often accuse me of having no filter when I talk. They believe I say anything and everything that pops into my head. This is not true, as I’ve told them many times. And now…NOW!!!!…this situation at this restaurant is PROOF that my family and friends have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. If I were filter-less, I’d have been thrown out of the restaurant if not thrown into jail. There are so many things I wanted to say…that I didn’t. There are so many things I wanted to do…but I didn’t. Instead, I sat there and acted appropriately with my mouth shut, covered by a mask. Just like an adult. Dammit.
THE PRICE WE PAY
Anyway, this is the atmosphere in which we sat and ate. Our food was about the same as if you ordered a biscuit sandwich at McDonalds; except, of course, we paid about four times as much for the “atmosphere.” Ah, trendy restaurants! Overpriced food, atmosphere and PEOPLE!
A VERY LONG TEN
We survived. Barely. We stayed for about ten to fifteen very long minutes as Ryan and David ate their meals.
Me: Okay, guys, are y’all about done?
Ry: No, Mother. I just took my first bite.
David giving me an intense look and saying low under his breath: Stop. Now.
As we sat in mostly silence, we heard commotion from the front of the restaurant. It sounded like one of the wait staff accidentally dropped a tray of food. You usually hear the crowd clap and cheer when that happens. Not this time. I’m not sure why and, you know what, I didn’t turn around to look either.
Ry who witnessed the whole thing: Oh, my! Someone bumped into that waitress and she dropped her tray.
David who turned around for a second at the sound of the commotion: Oops. I guess they’re going to have to remake that table’s order.
Me: Yep. It was bound to happen. Too many people, too little space.
Ry: Why isn’t this restaurant more organized so people don’t have to touch each other?
Me: Beats the hell out of me.
David: I’m sure they’re doing their best. There’s just a lot of people today. I’m sure it’s not always like this.
Me two minutes later, trying to hurry things along with Ryan: Surely, you’re about done by now. We need to get on the road. Lots to do today.
Ry: Mother, is everything okay with you?
David: Ryan, she’s fine. Aren’t you, Mona?
Me: Sure. I just need to get home, that’s all…but, hey, I can wait…unless you think you might want to box that up and take it with you.
Ry: I just want to sit here and finish eating.
Me: Okay. That’s fine. *sigh*
David: glaring at me but silent.
Me: What, David? Why are you looking at me like that? I told him, ‘That’s fine.’ Geez!
David: Really? Just let Ryan eat without saying anything else. Please.
Me: Smiling and holding it together behind my mask without saying another word. Balloon thoughts above my head — devil balloon, “If one more person bumps my chair, I’m going to tell them to fuck off. And if David says anything else to me, I’m going to—” Angel balloon interrupting devil balloon, “No, you won’t. You’re going to sit there and wait until it’s time to leave and you aren’t going to say or do anything that is unkind no matter how much you want to, including to David.”
David: Has no idea what I’m thinking as I smile, but he turns away from me and shakes his head, knowing it can’t be good.
TO GO, PLEASE
Neither Ry nor David seemed too perturbed by the situation in which we found ourselves. Okay, they were a little annoyed with me, but that’s normal. I, on the other hand, immediately packed my biscuit sandwich into a to-go container because our food arrived just about the same time that the twenty-somethings
I also immediately put my mask back on while I waited for my family to finish. When we got up as a family to leave, let me just say — who knew I could gracefully move my ass out of that crowded restaurant so fast that I left Ryan and David in, hopefully-but-not-for-certain, Covid-free dust?
If you’re fully immunized, face masks are no longer required in many places. My family and I aren’t quite there. Until then, there just doesn’t seem to be enough of face masks, hand sanitizers or my sanity to get me to the end.
HOW ABOUT Y’ALL?
Wayward Friends, how are you doing as the US and, presumably, the rest of the world slowly returns to a pre-Covid 19 state. Or is that even a thing? I know that India’s still in the throes of this brutal scourge. May this be over…yesterday.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you, specifically, are returning to “normal,” and what “normal” means to you. Has “normal” changed for you? In what way? For me, it’s changed in how I view life and people, even without my trying to change.
Or if your country or you are not returning to normal any time soon, I’d like to hear from you as well. How’s the state of where and how you are?
SUGGESTION — THIS
One more thing before music…because music is life…For those of you who would like to comment but don’t seem to be able to on my site, may I make a suggestion? I don’t know for sure whether this will help or not, but someone suggested this on someone else’s blog who was having the same or similar problem…
If you are coming to my blog via your WordPress Reader function and find that for whatever reason you’re not able to comment on my blog, try coming to my site via https://waywardsparkles.com/ . This will take you to my homepage and from there, you can click on my newest post or some other post and then you should be able to comment without any further trouble. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. Matter of fact, I’m going to give out the link to my http address each and every time I post anything new so that you can just click on it.
Or you should be able to just type in Wayward Sparkles and my site should come up on your browser. Let me know, if you can, whether this works for those of you who haven’t been able to comment in eons. If that doesn’t seem to work, try coming in through a different internet source. For instance, if you usually come in through Google and can’t comment, try Yahoo or vice versa or through some other browser. So I hope this helps and I look forward to hearing from you again! I miss what you have to say and, you know how much I adore you, right?
Now, positive music to get me back to normal?