The COVID-19 pandemic taught me that the small things count for a great deal of happiness, those minor routines which weren't overly special in the Before Times. Tonight, I was able to sit down for dinner with friends at a restaurant- linen napkins, shared appetizer platess... just like it used to be in the Old World (though we all work masks while walking to and from our table).
Louie and Johnnie's is one of those venerable red-sauce restaurants that simply puts out great food in large portions, with fantastic service and Old World hospitality. It has changed locations a couple of times in the past three decades, but it remains the same basic place I remember eating escarole and beans in thirty years ago... though the current location, where it's been for at least fifteen years, has a fancier dining room, adjacent to the more casual pizza counter.
The real significance of going out to dine is the signal that normality is returning, and the reintegration of the always hardworking food service employees back into the workforce. I haven't experienced any diminution of wages in the past year, it's time to redistribute some of my money and good fortune to people who had a rough go of things during the shutdown. These people are my neighbors, so I am obliged to pitch in for everybody's good. In return, I get a warm welcome and a hot meal... it's a tradition of hospitality that I learned as a child, and it feels good to vote my values with my pocketbook.