Ok, got ya with the title. But actually it is a bit of a click bait kind of thing. But not too bad cuz I am fessing up pretty quickly. This story is actually about my reclusive ways and a restaurant.
Ok, I really got ya again. Yes, the Sahara I am talking about is a restaurant, not the desert, but isn’t actually THIS restaurant either. It is another one, but I couldn’t get a picture, although I found it on the internet, that would save to my computer to load here. It does kinda, sorta look like it in a way though, if you look fast, at half of the real building. What I do so you can have a good read!!!! And I did suffer today…a harrowing experience, I swear. Sigh.
As anyone reading this likely knows by now, I moved to New Orleans after retirement, in part because I liked the night life. Well, I liked the party life. Ok, maybe I just liked the IDEA of the party life. You know, knowing it was there, but not necessarily actually taking part in it. But knowing it was there, if and when I decided to take part, was most often good enough. I mean, I go out, but usually it is for lunch and then to a bar to visit with a particular bartender that I met during visits here, and sort of know from the long ago days of maybe 10 years ago and during the two trips a year I made from Nashville to New Orleans. Yep, that is it. Nashville, New Orleans, and then New Orleans to Nashville…two, three times a year. That is…world traveler is your friend Left Thoughts.
In the six, almost seven years that I have lived here, I have continued to go out, but not for as long usually at a time. So, then late March early april hit. Covid-19 was here…big time. We were a hot spot for the pandemic. Mardi Gras, remember. It was in the news, how New Orleans was silly enough to actually have the festival knowing that Covid-19 was on the loose? We did know, didn’t we? No, as a matter, we didn’t. At the time we had the festival, mid February, it was either one person from China, 15 from China, or 50 but it was all taken care of. No danger, none, business as usual…we were told But apparently there was some sort of missing link in the information or something because suddenly, after Mardi Gras, in late March, all H-E-double hockey stick hit the air. The state, and especially the city, clamped down- Mardi Gras, remember, festival, thousands of people, pandemic. Kind of all comes together now, doesn’t it. All bars were closed. Movie theaters were closed. All sports events were closed. I didn’t go out because there was actually no place to go.
And i found that I liked it like that. I still do. I am kinda ok with staying at home, ordering groceries in, ordering pet supplies in, and only going out to run though a drive though or dart into and out of a restaurant for food to go. Longing, but not much, to see my favorite bartender, Princess Stephany, yes that is what we call her, …longing, but not too much. Most days seeing a post on facebook is just peachy keen.
However, today, I got to looking back and remembering going out to an actual restaurant and sitting down to eat. I always took a book along and read, and nibbled, and nibbled and read and just had a great little time. So, I think maybe, just maybe, if I wear a mask in and out of the restaurant, and whenever the staff approaches, wearing a mask of course, I might be able to actually do it. But first, I have to know when a slow time is. So I call, in advance to see when they are slower. The last time I checked the restaurants had to have a table vacant between every two that were in use. I liked that, sounds safe, let’s try it especially since when I called, they assured me “there aren’t too many people here”. Sounds good, safe even.
So off I go to my favorite Arab food restaurant. Ok, ok, i admit it, part of the reason I go there is I like Arab men…love their complexion and their smiles, and their friendliness….even if it is because they are selling me at least 20.00 worth of food plus tip every time I come in the door, even if I am taking it home. They just do it for me, in a way that dull old anglo saxons, which is what I am by the way, just don’t. Too boring, let me be around exotic types any day. Don’t get confused, I don’t do it for them, but your enterprising author is a dreamer and fanciful thinker is your friend, Left Thoughts.
Except, I have a major problem. I don’t tell distances too well visually. Yes, I am wearing a mask to get in and out and when the staff is actually at my table, but I can’t eat with a mask on. Just won’t work.
In addition, remember, again I can’t tell distances by looking. So, my mind goes, is that guy at the next table six feet away…or horrors, is he only 4 1/2 or even worse only 4. NOOOOOOOO, I DON’T WANT HIM THAT CLOSE….NO…NO CLOSER THAN 6 FEET.
So, I found myself sitting in the Sahara Cafe with my scrimp and my salad, my lentil soup. All my go to, well, except they didn’t have the lamb shank, so the meat was my second go to. But I was THERE. Terrified the guy at the next table was less than 6 feet away, but there.
Only three months….and suddenly sitting there, I realize I am no longer sure eating out is something I want to do. It seems like people are just too darn close….no!!!! Please nooo, move away, please!!! And whatever you do, if you go to the restroom, sir, angle across the room, don’t come my direction because then you will certainly be less than 6 feet away…and I will have a total nervous break…right here in the restaurant!! And it ain’t pretty in any way, your talented friend, Left Thoughts. Downright scary even. Well either that or hilarious, but we ain’t going THERE. Only the truly rude would, you know.
So, somehow I found that I finished my food…and enjoyed it, or well, at least i did when that refrain about 6 feet wasn’t running around in my head, but I was though a whole lot sooner than I ever was in the old days. Then I had to pay the bill.
Ok, normally, i sit at the table, give the waiter my debit card and sit and drink water and just read. Not today!!!! As soon as the food was gone, I was ready to leave.
Now, I am leaving. The two guys that came in and sat at the very next table, although admittedly there was an aisle between us so it might, even probably was six feet. However, I can’t be sure. I can’t measure distance worth a darn with my eyes. I know, I know, I have mentioned that three times already, maybe even four, but it is an important part of this horrible obsession I am going though. I also know if I pass them, I will be much less than 6 six from them…for at least 3 seconds. That is a scary prospect.
So, I very very carefully angled my way out of where I was sitting and snuck around some booths and a table or two, making sure I got no closer than 6 feet to any of the other 3 or 4 tables in the place and went to the cash register to pay the bill. Don’t want to get closer than six feet, but heaven prevent they notice, that would just be embarrassing. Well, if I noticed they noticed…they probably realized, but I was too focused on the horrors of surviving those grueling 3-4 steps. Life for Left thoughts…not an easy thing.
Ok, the extra table between the counter and me is gone–that was there the last time, major aid to my nervous system – but the counter is pretty wide, so I think I can handle this. So, I hand the guy behind the counter, whose name in Arabian means hay colored, Shakir is how I think it is spelled, my debit card, he runs it, hands me my receipt to sign. I sign it, the obstacle course is almost over. I only have the distance between the cash register and the door. I will be back in my mask, and the car is across right in front of the door. Mask, check. People in the parking lot…nope pretty sure. Oh but there is that one guy….oh ok, he went the other direction. Maybe this is something i can do.
Now all I have to do is get out of the restaurant without getting any closer than 6 feet from that one table over beside the door. Not wanting to be totally unsocial, I express to Hay Colored, that I am just not sure I am ready to dine in yet. This has been a scary experience for me. Yes, I tell Hay Colored this, I confide in the waiters that serve me…doesn’t everybody?!! After all, there is nobody else in that restaurant that I am closer to. He DESERVES to know my every thought, whether he wants to or not. Ok, so maybe only I would tell him this…but it is my story.
He assures me that I have been about 6 feet from everybody the whole time, even when I was eating. And since I am wearing a mask most of the time…I might actually survive being less than 6 feet away. It has been known on occasions that two people got closer than that, especially while wearing masks, and nothing horrible actually happened so I am probably safe. But, just to be sure, here’s some hand sanitizer~!! Free sanitizer, I wonder how long THAT has been such an exciting idea. Oh, I remember, about 3 months, at most.
Whew, so far so good. So now I carefully pick my way from the cash register to the door, remember in the old days, I would never have been at the cash register. It would have been straight from table alllllll the 40 or 50 feet to the car. And gosh knows how many people I might have gotten less than 6 feet from and never even thought about the horrible danger. Or any danger, come to think of it.
Now, I am at the door, i think, oh I hope that was at least 6 feet, and not a mere 5 1/2 feet from that one table with the two people. But that table was on the side where the door was but much further into the room…so probably safe.
Now, there is the parking lot. Whew, almost there. Grab a quick breath, look both ways. oops there is that one guy….oh ok , he went the other way. Now dash out the door, run across the parking lot, and jump QUICKLY into the car, and slam the door before anybody wanders in my general direction.
Mission accomplished….my first dinner out of the house….actually in a real life restaurant with (gulp) other people in it.
I am worn out….maybe I will try it again in another month or two…..when I have gotten my energy back from this harrowing experience.