Around the Nation
A column by Tom Van Dusen
So, except for buffet restaurants and karaoke bars, we’re pretty much back in business in Stage 3 of Ontario’s pandemic recovery, almost on the other side of the scourge that tilted the world.
As long as we’re masked, social distanced, and sanitized, we can go back to church, gym, bars and restaurants. There’s still one big problem for me… two of my favourite things are karaoke and buffets, the former even more than the latter.
I guess I can get by without buffets, my favourite being Indian. Those who know me will attest I won’t starve without them. I’ll still get plenty to eat, some might say too much.
But karaoke! That’s a whole other kettle of fish! In the years leading up to COVID-19, I became quite a K-fan, warbling in various locations such as the Legions in Prescott and Russell. There`s another reason to support Legion branches financially undermined during the COVID Collapse: Many of them offer karaoke.
I tried Zoom karaoke but it really is an activity better undertaken live and in a room full of imbibing people. At a house party last Saturday, they pulled out the K-machine and I got a little taste of it, offering such ditties as My Girl and Wagon Wheel between enthusiastic mic sanitizations.
At least my third favourite thing is back in Stage 3, restaurant big breakfasts. That eases some of the pain. I enjoyed my first one in four months Friday morning. It’s my go-to meal, and Bobby’s in Prescott serves it up in fine style… not to mention several other eateries in the region.
I tell my kids if they remember to ask what I want for my birthday or Father’s Day… it’s always the same thing: Just get me two eggs over easy, bacon, brown toast, home fries and beans if they’re available — as they are at Russell Restaurant — and I’ll be a happy camper.
Except for takeout, Bobby’s was forced to shut its doors when COVID came crawling into town. It was a thrill to have it finally reopen with all of the familiar faces still in place. It’s like they never left!
The seating has been reconfigured; except for few tables, it’s almost all booths now, with tasteful wood frame and plastic partitions installed to separate customers. Theoretically, you can only spread the dreaded droplets within your own booth.
You must enter the establishment wearing a mask, and keep it on in the booth until you’re served. As soon as my tea arrived, Karen the server/pastry chef gave me the go-ahead to ditch the mask; knowing her, she might have thought I’d try to suck it through my face covering.
But the whole thing is crazy, right! Wear the mask in but take it off to eat when there’s the greatest chance to – as our prime minister has warned – speak moistly to your companions, filling the air with COVID-laced droplets.
I’m not a big believer in the usefulness of masks, and there are so many contradictions; but I mask up because it’s the law and I want my big breakfast! I’m not yet ready to go back to the gym where I feel there’s a bigger change of unmasked treadmill’ers and iron pumpers splashing droplets on their neighbours.
I repeated the big breakfast experience at the Prescott Golf Club Sunday morning after 18 holes, at the Verandah restaurant, also reopened under Stage 3. Just to change it up a bit, I ordered sausage instead of bacon. Same drill there… wear a mask in and take it off at your table; apparently, you’re supposed to put it back on when addressing your masked server.
Memories … like the corners of my mind! Verandah operator Mike Hudson has a karaoke machine that he would fire up pre-COVID! Those were the days my friends, we thought they’d never end!