Opinion: Outside In

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Field Trip

By David Weinstein

Have you heard that restaurants are starting to open for indoor dining? Coincidentally my wife and I got our first vaccine shot last week. So I think it might be time to emerge from our bunker to celebrate these events. Admittedly, we (and the dog) have been a bit testy with each other, as we have been spending a lot of time together. What’s needed is a change of venue, and takeout, even from a nice restaurant but served from Styrofoam containers with plastic utensils lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Besides, this is a special occasion. It will be great to finally have an evening out, something I used to take for granted, but in the future never will again.

I make a plan. This is something I would not have done before the pandemic but now do constantly. One, because my brain has turned to mush, and two, because I have a lot of time on my hands. Pre-pandemic, I was continually harried, and time, like toilet paper and vaccines, was in short supply. Now time stretches out before me like the open prairie.

I need to pick a date and time, and then choose one of the many dining options in Laguna for our outing. These are details I should consign to my wife, a retired accountant who has kept our household in order for the last 45 years. But for some unexplainable reason, she only eats chicken when we dine out, so I don’t trust her judgment completely. Besides, I have time to fill.

I start a list to implement my plan. Of course, I tackle the easiest item first: “What should I wear?” It will be a nice place so I should dress appropriately. This could be a problem because since the beginning of this pandemic I have worn the same pair of shorts or ragged blue jeans. Not the sort of ragged jeans that slim, fashionable, wealthy women wear, but the ones I put on to work on the car. However, at one time in the recent past I had to dress for business, so I visit the section of my closet where these lonely clothes have been on hiatus. I lay out what I think is a suitable ensemble, brush off the fine dust, and decide which ones to try on. Somehow, since their last use, they have shrunk. I turn sideways to look in the mirror and am horrified. The only thing that comes to mind is a stuffed cocktail olive skewered by a toothpick. While my activities have contracted, my waistline has not. Quite the opposite and it is a disheartening sight. I blame it on the fact the gyms have been closed since last spring and determine if I wear my blue blazer unbuttoned it will hide the previous year’s sins.

This is all too much, or at least enough, for one day. I will tackle additional items on my list another day. The next being where to dine? I make notes under “possible choices” – check parking, pricing, ambiance, menu, and particularly chicken availability.

So please be on the alert. If you see someone wandering around the Promenade on Forest who could stand to lose a few pounds and staring purposefully into the windows of a local restaurant, don’t worry. It’s just me on a field trip, checking off another item on my dining out to-do list.

David is a resident of Newport Beach. He recently retired after 40 years in the real estate business.

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  1. For David Weinstein. I don’t usually e mail the indy, but I really enjoyed your article “There’s just no Telling”. Loved the CLS 500 racing the BMW. (Love cars ). Describing how you felt when you hit 100 passing the BMW. A good writer holds your attention. You did just that. Lots of humor in it.


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