Goodness, have I missed sugar packets.
And the hustle-bustle of diners and waitstaff.
It’s been well over eight months since I have set foot in a restaurant of any kind. The last time I ate out was the evening of March 3, a birthday dinner with my friend Holly at a delightful Italian bistro in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. Little did I dream, as I polished off my tiramisu, that I wouldn’t even be going to Wawa for a hoagie in the foreseeable future.
I have never been a regular diner-out. In childhood, my clearest memory of such excursions was our annual dinner at the Normandy Inn in Normandy Beach, NJ. My Nana Cunningham would treat, and as I recall the “house dessert” was—wait for it--The Sailboat, an obviously labor-intensive creation consisting of an ice cream sandwich stuck with a lollipop sporting a construction paper “sail.” Later, as parents, between our limited budget and our seemingly unlimited number of children, Seyfried restaurant meals were rare celebrations. It got to the point that I actually looked forward to treks to McDonald's for Happy Meals with the kiddos, which at least provided a change of scene (mind you, that changed scene was Mickey D’s “ball room” filled with screeching toddlers).
But I’ve always adored being served a lovely meal, in a civilized setting, where I did not have to care about the number of plates needing to be washed afterward. And in recent years Steve and I did have more opportunities to sample the cuisine at quite a few fine dining spots in Philly, New York and even Paris, Barcelona and Rome.
Well, it all came to a crashing halt in mid-March, and I have really missed having the option of restaurant dining. We’ve gotten some takeout from time to time, but have been very leery of entering an actual eatery while the virus is still raging. Our Patrick doesn’t have the luxury of avoiding Victory Brewing Company, being the chef and all, and I worry about his safety every single day. I take my cues from wise Dr. Fauci, who wouldn’t dream of eating at an indoor establishment right now.
But as the months grind on, I do regret not availing ourselves of chances to sit outdoors at a restaurant last summer, when the weather was still balmy. We’re heading into the season where sidewalk dining would involve eating with mittens on. So it is with joyful anticipation that I await this coming Sunday, when I will join three friends for lunch (outdoors) at a local café. The temps should be in the mid-60s, with plenty of sunshine. Protocols will be very different I hear--disposable cutlery, no printed menus, socially distanced tables. I am deciding on which face mask will best complement my outfit, and polishing up the old credit card. It feels like Party Time (2020 version at least)!
Post-COVID, remind me never to take life’s little pleasures for granted again.
Even Happy Meals.