As Phase 2 began this week, I felt like a bird being (slowly) released from my East 73rd Street cage.  On Monday, my daughter and I went for a haircut.  We both prefer our hair long, but Samantha was beginning to resemble Rapunzel, and I looked as though a litter of puppies had gnawed the ends of my hair.  Aaron Emanuel, a small Second Avenue salon, was Covid-ready. There were plastic dividers between salon chairs with only half of them filled.  Everyone wore masks and I felt reasonably safe (whatever that means).

Strangely, some of the larger hair salons are not yet open.  Oscar Blandi is closed until July, which means my gray roots will grow even longer before my appointment on the 9th. Why not color my hair at the Second Avenue salon?  Answer: Auburn is a tricky color and I’m loyal to my colorist Paul Romano, who has done a wonderful job for many years.  Besides, what’s my rush?  I’m STILL not going out THAT much.

Now that retail stores have opened, I kept my promise to Samantha for a “girls’ day” out to celebrate her weight loss with her very first bikini since childhood. On Tuesday, we went to Bloomingdales, after dropping off some food with my 93 year old mother. Bloomies was delightfully (and scarily) empty. There were infinitely more salespeople than customers.

As we entered the elevator, a salesperson directed us to stand on the large yellow spots on the floor—designated to create maximum space. (The three of us were the only occupants of the elevator which left several empty spots).

I’m happy to report that our Bloomingdales Mission Possible was a huge success! Not only did we succeed in buying two bathing suits, but the discounts were so amazing that we paid only $82 for BOTH suits.  Even our saleswoman was surprised at the savings.  And no, we weren’t the only customers buying bathing suits during a summer when we may never have the chance to wear them.

Another customer in the next dressing room overheard us asking for a size small pink and yellow bikini and she kindly offered us the bottom she had already tried on.  Fortunately, the salesperson brought us one off the rack.  But was the bikini off the rack safer than the one that the lady next door had tried on?  Who knows if the one off the rack was recently tried on by a customer with Covid 19?

We bought the bikini.  After all, there will be plenty of time for virus germs to die before Samantha sports her new bathing suits.

Howard has been working on one of the biggest cases of his career and needs a quiet space for his conference calls, which seem to last all day 7 days a week (almost).  He and Samantha have already skirmished over her use of the blender and the noise involved in making a breakfast smoothie.  The sound of the blender is deafening—not unlike the drilling and blasting which accompanied construction of the Second Avenue subway—though mercifully temporary.

To avoid further drama, I figured it would best for Samantha and me to go out for lunch on Wednesday. That way, Howard could conduct his SEC presentation in peace.  Besides, I haven’t eaten a meal not served by me on our dining room table/Howard’s desk for the past 3 1//2 months!  My daughter and I left Howard sitting in front of his laptop in a button-down shirt, tie and blazer (a first for him) after wearing jeans and tee-shirt for so long.

Our “Greens and Grains” salads at 5 Napkin Burger were delicious!  We even sat at a table in the shade and enjoyed a breeze. Our waiter wore masks and gloves, while customers ate and drank without protection.  Were we 100% safe?  Who knows?

What I do know is that it was worth it (to me and my daughter) to incur a little extra risk to eat a meal and have a normal conversation instead of chewing wordlessly while listening to my husband’s continuous business calls. Dare I admit to the guilty pleasure of ordering off a (disposable) menu instead of preparing, serving, loading the dishwasher, cleaning the table and sweeping? I loved every minute of it.

I’m hoping Howard and I can enjoy our first dinner out together this weekend, despite the very limited outdoor seating of most restaurants, which are also refusing to take reservations.  Given the pent-up demand of New Yorkers to eat out, I’m not optimistic that we’ll find a table. I’m not willing to stand on line in the street waiting.  Been there and done that at Target and Citarella. The goal is to finally relax….

But will it be possible to relax even if we are lucky enough to secure a table?  Will most of the passersby be wearing masks?  For the hour and a half that we enjoy an appetizer, main course and dessert, will someone sneeze or cough a few germs in our direction?  Maybe one of the other diners is an unknowing carrier of Covid19?  All of this is possible.  We have not been given ANY information that is helpful or reassuring.

To make matters worse, coronavirus infections are spiking in other states that have reopened ahead of New York. What will happen if there is an influx of returning “snowbirds” from Florida, where the virus is now out of control? They are supposed to self-quarantine for two weeks, but who will enforce THAT rule? With no one to guide us, we are all winging it (or not).

As we bravely enter our new normal, each of us must decide whether the risks are worth the rewards. Stay home or go out?

I’m cautiously flapping my wings.



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