So here we are, almost a year into a pandemic that seems to be getting worse and worse. There has been talk of a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Talk about “back to normal” and what it means to our lives.

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at [email protected]

We’ve all been waiting anxiously, but the question looms: Will there be a “normal” to get back to? We are swimming in a sea of uncertainty, unsure of how to act in these difficult times. What did we look like before the barbershops and hair salons closed their doors?

Yes, we have come back from one surge after another of COVID-19. The number of victims continues to rise; the number of dead is updated every day like winning lottery numbers.

But what about the future? For example, what’s the dating landscape going to look like? Today a typical activity for an average couple is to go out to dinner at one of many choice eating spots and then a movie at one of the multi-screen theaters in our area or an evening at one of our local amateur theaters.

What would life have been like without movies? How did we get through high school and young adulthood? On Saturday nights audiences crowded in to sit in the darkened theater and be entertained. Led by advances in technology, we watched as silent films became “talkies” and then came Technicolor, CinemaScope, VCRs – who knows what is next? The question will be whether to go to the movies or sit at home and watch available streaming on television.

A night out for a fancy dinner at your favorite restaurant? Fuggetaboutit. The owner/chef who was barely successful before the pandemic hit tried to hang on with federal help, but it was too late and she is now starting a catering service. Meanwhile, the storefront where her restaurant was located stands empty on a block of real estate that is all for rent or sale. According to figures released by the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry has likely lost nearly $120 billion in sales during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hooked on sports? Professional sports franchises took their enforced regulations with a grain of salt, even though they managed to play a shortened season and made an effort to play as if it mattered. But with three announcers in an empty ballpark and cardboard cutouts, it just wasn’t the same. The owners may realize they don’t need the live fans or the sold-out games to make money, but have we lost our way? Professional sports are played indoors nowadays. We’ve all watched over the years as pro sports drifted further and further from the mythic ideal of sportsmanship.

Working remotely has forced us to figure out how to work from our homes at least some of the time rather than travel to an office miles away. Will that do away with morning and evening rush hours? What effect will a surfeit of office space do to the economy?

We’ll have to wait and see.

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