Reflections on my first dinner in a restaurant in over a year

I hit full Pfizer-powered vaccine efficacy at approximately 9:45 yesterday morning. I’m feeling good about stepping back into the world, although I have to get in touch with Microsoft support about turning off Cortana.

That’s worth celebrating, so I decided to do something I used to enjoy doing multiple times a week but hadn’t done in over a year: eat in a restaurant. I’ve been on plenty of patios during the pandemic, but being inside of something that is not my apartment, with a roof over my head and sturdy (I assume) walls around me, is not something I’ve done much of, and definitely not in a public setting.

It was so weird.

I chose Olde Magoun’s Saloon, a pleasant little pub that has long been one of my favorite “fuck this shit, I need a beer and a burger” spots. It was busier than I expected. If it hadn’t been for the sign in sheet and the plexiglass separators at the bar it would’ve been like any other Thursday night in the place’s history.

You know when you walk into a place and a not insignificant portion of the crowd sizes you up? That was jarring. After a year of strangers furtively avoiding each other, that interest felt significant in a way it never used to. It was welcoming, in a way.

At the table, I couldn’t help being struck by how god damn loud the room was. It made me realize just how quiet life has been. Who are these people, and why do they have so much to say, and why do they feel like their words are so much more important than the words spilling forth from the next table that they have to compete for auditory mastery of this pub? Can’t they see I’m trying to read? The gall!

Other dumb observations percolated up in my addled brain as I waited, and ate, and drank. I’d forgotten they make TVs that big. How does the waitstaff move so quickly? Lucky me, I kicked the keg so this half beer is free–but shit, it’s really good so this half pour is kind of sad. I found myself aware of and attuned to my surroundings in a much more conscious way than I have been in the past. It’d been forever since I’ve had so much to see, hear, and smell. Luckily all the smells were good.

It was over too soon. I could’ve spent the night right there. And yet, I’m not in a rush to go back. A bit of moderation is called for here, I think, although not out of corona concerns. I can make good food and acquire good beer for significantly lower prices. I like the challenge of putting a meal together. And I’m not real interested in eating giant piles of god knows what. Maybe I’ll feel differently if I end up commuting regularly again, but for now I think my days of eating out three or four nights a week are another thing that’s getting left behind in 2020.