March 15, 2020
League of Men Voters
Today the phone ran at 11am. It was my elder brother inviting me and my family to join them at a bar and restaurant “The Mountain House,” for a 2pm lunch. His wife, grabbed the phone and said she was eager to get out of the house and away from all the “doom and gloom” on the TV, and my brother added, “I kind of like it!” with a chuckle.
Not long before I had gone on my own and met them at that restaurant’s parking lot before driving a short distance to a parking lot that served access to an amazing hiking trail. Apart from being a bit winded on the trek back up the trail, I enjoyed that greatly.
The family agreed and we left home to enjoy a normal lunch, although I had just a slight apprehension on restaurant dining based on the increasingly pervasive combination of myths and realities concerning the introduction of that virus first released into Wuhan to our own lives here in California.
Traffic was rather light as we made our way from the East Bay to the Peninsula and after crossing the San Mateo bridge, we were closing in on our planned meeting place. After making the left onto Skyline Boulevard, my phone rang. As I began to announce I was a few minutes out, my brother announced that the restaurant was closed, and per a sign posted “due to the Corona virus.”
This followed with announcement of an alternative plan to meet at Miramar Beach Restaurant in Half Moon Bay. This sounded immediately appealing as that’s where had recently enjoyed a fantastic meal after the aforementioned hike. They even have a piano bar, and from what my brother and sister-in-law have told me the same pianist has been working his magic there for 20 years.
I took the first wide shoulder to make the necessary U-turn, and off we went towards our backup rendezvous. Upon arriving, I noticed we were first but my brother, wife and daughter weren’t long in pulling in. They had let us know they made a reservation for the party of seven.
As soon as I walked in I noticed the familiar face of the piano guy, and the restaurant was very much open for business, but there were only diners at, perhaps, a quarter of the available tables.
A couple in front had apparently walked in and were requesting seating but they were told the restaurant was “at capacity,” but that they would be welcome to take a table in the outside patio.
They were visibly frustrated, and elected to leave. I was holding the door open to allow them an exit, but the woman seemed to see me as “blocking” her exit and was repeating “distance… distance!” Apparently she was either worried of catching or spreading the Corona that’s now dominating the thoughts of most in any of the numerous countries presently “participating” in the pandemic.
Ultimately we took our seats and I found the empty tables all around us to be a source of comfort, but of course heightened concern for keeping hands washed had us all doing at least one visit to lavatory before handling of table bread and other items not customarily consumed with utensils.
My brother and I ordered up what I typically call “strong island” and my bride put in for the Bloody Mary. As we ordered I remembered a recent conversation that sort of blew up one of my former delusions concerning high alcohol drinks being “safe” from germs. Recently a friend informed me that alcohol had to be at 60% to kill the Corona, which was quite bewildering. Most every hard liquor is at a mere 40% including vodka, gin, tequila and other s of the essential ingredients of a proper Long Island Iced Tea.
I had previously wondered why sharing strong drinks could spread meningitis and other ailments, and I had heard my sister had to take only the wafer and forgo the wine that was, until recently, a typical rite of Communion, due to personal risks exacerbated by a suppressed immune system.
Not knowing how much less than normal things might get, I opted to maximize the enjoyment of this fine dinner out, and the special rack of lamb with baked potato and asparagus proved a fine compliment to the “strong island” and good company. And the fine piano man did his part to add pleasant ambiance to the otherwise fine gathering of family.
The dessert was tiramisu and that was a touch on the sweet side for my palette, but nonetheless, the meal was otherwise fantastic. After dropping some cash in the piano tips jar, we grabbed some jackets from the car to go on a walk along the beautiful Mirada Road which is perched above a pile of rocks that slow the clear erosion owed to the ocean below.
After an enjoyable walk, a few pictures, and a quick step into an Art Gallery, we found ourselves back to our cars and began the drive home.
The navigation projected an arrival at home at about 5:45 which would give us about a half hour before we would then leave home for our weekly visit to St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church.
We ultimately arrived about 5 minutes late for mass and noticed the parking lot had lots of open spaces. My prior concern of going to a crowded place was lifted when we observed the church was running at about 20 percent of their normal 6:30PM Mass participation.
The week before the congregation was taught to abstain from the normal practice of holding hands for the “Our father” prayer and with our the widely dispersed placement there was hardly any opportunity to reach anyone else’s had the prior message not been received or forgotten.
The Mass also included the first step of enrollment of new Catholics so that was integrated into the ceremony. But there was much more interesting announcements to be made in the course of the young Priests homily. It began on the subject of what we do “as Christians.” After indicating the natural reactions in a crisis to “take care of mine first,” he offered a gentle reminder that there is also another way for Christians, that might involve placing the needs of others before self.
He also went on to inform that all other things apart from weekly Mass including a St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef feast had been cancelled, and then went on to notify that there will likely not be any Mass the following weeks, and possibly not even through Easter.
I became glad that I hadn’t been tempted to stay at home, since this particular mass was very unusual, and had all the potential of being the last Catholic Mass for what could be a long time. The same limits on gatherings larger than 50 people that apparently set a new occupancy limit at the restaurant for lunch was clearly being applied to church business also.
He was informing the parish that while lots of things were being cancelled, from performing arts, sports, and school closures, there might also be “opportunity” in reconnecting with family. He then followed up with words that were very close if not a match to these:
Tomorrow starts the first week of “home schooling” of sorts, since the district here announced that classes would be suspended immediately, through what would have been Spring Break and to resume no sooner than mid April.
My daughter’s Matilda production that kept her happily busy Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays was recently announced as delayed until further notice too. She had previously been put on break of Ju Jitsu since it was simply too much to do both. My son’s continued involvement in the sport is now a question mark. Not very big crowds at the gym now, but a lot of close contact with however many do show for a class.
My first time to my nearby Safeway (a 24 hour store ever since I moved into the neighborhood in 2005,) was met with a surprise. Only my wife had been shopping and her first Twilight Zone like experience shopping was at Costco. She’s generally not focused much on politics nor news, so she didn’t even, at first, realize that the seemingly odd “out of noodles” during her routine shopping was part of a much bigger picture that would soon become a matter of routine in a world where every itch could be scratched at countless shopping locations or even delivered promptly to the front door via Amazon.
And on my way out I noticed signs that stated “to better serve our community we will be open from 5am to 12am until further notice.” I knew in crime ridden LA lots of formerly 24 hours stores locked out the super late night business to avoid problems, and I suspect, in a days of hoards desperately fighting for toilet paper they’d not want to have late night pirates clear the shelves without attending to the ordinary formalities of tendering payment.
Apart from those little things like indefinite school closures, cancelled events, closed bars, restricted restaurants and every day “Black Friday” but without the discounts, I suspect that much worse is yet to come.
Whereas I’m being nearly the opposite of a “prepper” in my own approach, I have done some stocking up on essentials like 36 large jars of organic spaghetti sauce, a rather abundant stock of noodles, I’ve yet to make significant moves to obtain significant supplies of canned foods, dried fruits, almonds, Spam, canned milk, powdered milk nor MRE’s. And whereas I have a couple big hand sanitizer bottles that we already had before we ever heard of “Kung Flu” as some have called it, and normal amounts of isopropyl alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, and a rather fully stocked wine rack, I’m now left to wonder whether these products will soon begin to restock, or whether, as my friend suggested, I may already have wandered into the “too late” zone.
If there’s any advice to give at this point, I’d say we should prepare for the worst, hope and or pray for the best, and “panic responsibly.” For now, I’m off to see what might be “in store” for me at the nearby Target and Safeway.
©2020 Occupy Democrats Parody