Dispatches from the near future: Globe journalists imagine summer during the pandemic.
You wake up hungry, dreaming of brunch. Not yet, not for a while. Friends can gather on blankets appropriately spaced on the grass for BYO picnics, and that has been fun. But this weekend morning what you want is the real deal, everybody getting hangry together jammed into the line at the entrance, waiting while the earlier birds eat stacks of fluffy pancakes and drink mimosas shoulder to shoulder, face to face.
Not yet, not for a while. Tonight it would also be nice to go out for dinner, maybe a double date — visit that little neighborhood bistro with the handful of tables, dim lighting, your favorite bartender who knows your favorite drink, and an indulgently gooey chocolate dessert you order every time. Takeout is great too, and the bistro now sells the ingredients for the dessert, premeasured and with instructions for making it at home. Your favorite bartender is bottling mixers for sale, so you can make your favorite drink yourself too; you spot him at curbside pickup, and he waves and makes a socially distant air toast in your direction, eyes twinkling above his mask.
But you’re not totally out of luck on this sunny summer day, not by a long shot. It’s in the 80s, and there’s a light breeze blowing, and you’ll do what you might have done on a day just like this last summer. Take a drive — maybe the North Shore, maybe the South Shore, maybe the Cape or Maine. Whatever else is going on, it’s the season for lobster rolls and onion rings, fried clams and chowder, purchased from a takeout window and eaten on a picnic bench. This you still can do, standing on the marked spots that let customers wait in line together, getting your order number texted to you instead of printed on a paper slip. Some people perch on the hoods of their cars to eat, or pop the tailgate. Others sit at tables freshly disinfected after each use, slipping off their masks to eat. It feels enough like normal to keep you going. The seafood is fresh and the sun is warm. You are definitely getting soft-serve.