New York City is arguing with the Mayor of Music and Entertainment, the nightlife mayor. That’s right, NYC is SO busy that it has its own nightlife mayor. Now that this is sinking in, imagine millions of people now rolling into month five of a global pandemic with bars still shuttered. Florida has other ideas, as far as east coast decisions made under the gaze of different politically leaning governors. These COVID days and the resulting fluctuations across the country means the bar life has ceased to be what it once was.
It just doesn’t feel safe.
Yet, old habits die hard when you work in entertainment and take advantage of the music scene that is at astronomical levels on any given night, often featuring friends. This is deeply missed not only by your friends mixing drinks behind the bar at your local, but the souls of musicians and their reasons for breathing on a daily basis. Going to my local is simply not an option. It’s proven with the surges in positive results when people hang out in groups by the pool, COVID parties and the like, all without masks. I’ve done plenty of crazy things in my life, but putting myself in the line of fire is where I decide to draw the line. Instead, I make cocktails and imbibe at home, sometimes with virtual friends and family.
It’s not the same.
Before actually realizing, our apartment has begun a restructuring, ever slowly. It took a minute to understand what was happening. Rooms have turned around to replace what we once used to do outdoors–or rather, outside of our apartment and indoors somewhere else, like at the gym, or restaurant. We now have a fitness room which replaced the gym, complete with stationary bike, weights, yoga and physical therapy equipment. The living room is now streamlined for entertainment with the top streaming capabilities and TV dining. Yes, TV dining, like in the old days. Complete with TV trays (but they’re modern and cute… because it matters). It hit me: the dining room was moving to feel more like a restaurant. A pub. A gastropub. Looking around, I see how a restaurant would almost have to move into the dining room next. We already had the makings of a bar, and now nothing but time waiting for work to restart while rehashing my brief stint as a bartender.
Enter a high top table with sumptuous high back bar stools, facilitating the ease of serving the occasional “gourmet” takeaway. The bar height dining table will excitedly host our home versions of what we would really prefer someone else to do: gourmet chef. Why does the weekly pandemic funds not afford a full time chef, we’ll never understand why. That chef should be part of the HEROES act because that is 100% the function of our chef hero, to feed us well, healthy and deliciously, three times a day. Plus snacks. Packable picnic lunches. Sad.
Instead we’ll be our own heroes, and have our make believe gastropub experience every day for at least breakfast and sometimes dinner. Boob tube tub o’ grub. Made all the more swanko-rific (read tacky) with plexi TV trays. Pandemic leisure, so that you know there’s a difference between this day and that one. It’s Wednesday. Civilized eating in front of the TV. As you do.
It’s Saturday, actually. That’s what Alexa says, anyways.
With our imaginary gastropub, we can invite our virtual friends to come over for laptop happy hour. It’s so fake and real simultaneously, complete with reality cheese bricks, grapes and Ritz crackers. One of us will do the bar lean while standing, chatting at so-and-so on the Zoom or Houseparty. Charades anyone? It’s getting loud now, and crowded, maybe we won’t find a seat? We wait though, no sweat. Oh look, those people are paying their bill, and we can lean quite comfortably, snatch at some cheese and Ritz with ease. Oh look, a bunch of empty stools.
© Isabel Alvear, July 2020