It happened. It finally happened. No, I’ve not finally gone slightly mad. After two months of strict staying-the-hell-home and zero physical contact with humans, I went out to dinner with a girlfriend!
As mentioned in my previous article, caution is still our friend. But seeing as both me and my gal pal had been super disciplined – I am not ashamed to admit that I sprayed disinfectant on the hand-sanitizer bottle on more than one occasion – and since we both live alone, we decided that we deserved a girly night out.
Keeping my eyes open
So Friday evening, I dolled myself up, made sure I had my essentials (antibacterial gel and an animal-print mask my mom made) and set off to spend some quality time with my sister from another mister. I felt as excited as a teenager about to meet her crush. But even in my excitement, I did not fail to adhere to the current rules and kept my eyes open to see how people were behaving.
A week before this glorious encounter, I had to take public transportation, and noted that while everyone wore their masks – each more chic than the next – you could see how fed up people were. Because of the mask situation, it’s easier to read people’s eyes. All I saw were tired, nay, exhausted people.
The face mask dilemma
Then this last Friday, as the fashion show of masks continued – Applause! – and while people still keep a safe and respectful distance from one another, I saw hope and light return to the visible parts of the faces on the street. That in and of itself made one feel so much better. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
For two months straight, hugs and even pecks on the cheek were out of the question. This is up to everyone’s discretion of course, but I wasn’t sure of the protocol between two old friends. Thankfully, my girl solved this dilemma in a second, as she greeted me with the usual Hungarian kisses on the cheek. I always valued the affection of my friends but this quarantine has multiplied that appreciation.
It has also multiplied my appreciation of the not-so-little things such as eating out and having a drink with a friend.
As you may have guessed from the title of this piece, we had Balkan barbeque and a respectable (and borderline disrespectful) amount of beer at a place called Grill Mánia. Insane amounts of girly ramblings were also consumed but that’s perhaps to have been expected.
I was happy to note that guests were considerate enough to seat themselves so that they would be leaving an empty table between themselves and other visitors to this fine eatery. All the waiters wore masks but even in these tricky circumstances, were super friendly and helpful.
When we called it a night, we hugged, hid our face holes in our masks and set off home, grinning and satisfied.
I tend to get off the tram a few stops before my own to walk along the bank of the Danube and look at the Parliament building, which is exactly what I did on Friday night.
As I tipsily admired the lights reflecting on the river, I forgot for a little while that we were still in the middle of a pandemic, that these are still very strange times, and allowed myself to be filled to the brim with hope, joy and Krušovice.
So far, I’m very proud of us people. Keep it up and enjoy this in-between time in all its uniqueness.
By Andi Thomas