3 min read.Updated: 03 Feb 2021, 12:13 AM ISTJem Bartholomew, The Wall Street Journal
Those who have received shots are looking forward to grocery shopping or getting a haircut; ‘I’m going to sit down, have a dark beer and a cheeseburger’
Sergio Tristán, a 65-year-old retired State Department employee, really missed squeezing his own tomatoes.
He recently received the first dose of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine and the second is scheduled for early February. Suddenly, life’s little joys, the kind that have been shelved for many people for almost a year, are back on the horizon.
“Picking up the tomatoes at the store makes a big difference," he says.
Grocery shopping, a walk in the park, a trip to the post office—this is what’s waiting for the first round of Americans lucky enough to have successfully navigated a patchwork and often frustrating vaccine rollout.
Cinemas? Likely closed. Bars? Mostly shuttered. Social clubs? Forget it.
“Everything is closed here," said Crisoforo Moreno, an 84-year-old retired plumber in Los Angeles, who got the second shot on Jan. 26, but has no big plans.
That means it’s the little things that count the most. Dennis Littley, 67, a retired chef turned food and travel blogger, had scheduled a getaway to Europe with his wife in March last year. The food-rich jaunt through Sicily, Rome and Verona was canceled a week beforehand.
Mr. Littley has eaten well during the pandemic. He ordered Alaskan salmon, North Carolina heritage pork and Texan chicken to his home in Kissimmee, Fla. But he has been yearning for the buzz and magic of eating out.
His wife Lisa, 59, isn’t vaccinated. So now that he has received his second Moderna shot, Mr. Littley is planning to treat himself to solo dining at chain restaurant Miller’s Ale House—“they make a really, really good cheeseburger"—somewhere he wouldn’t typically go with his wife. He plans to eat on the patio.
“I’m going to sit down, have a dark beer and a cheeseburger," said Mr. Littley. “It’s crazy for a chef to say that’s what he’s missing the most, but everything else I can cook at home." His other plan is to get a haircut in a barber shop, which will be only his second since the pandemic hit. “I did go in once," he said. “I taped a mask all the way around my face."
Freedom for some means playing a round of golf with old friends. “You just get a relaxing feeling, it’s like you’ve got no problems, no worries," said Archie Slaughter, a former General Motors employee in Fort Myers, Fla. Mr. Slaughter, 71, said he would be golfing again a couple of weeks after his second Moderna shot, once he has built up maximum immunity.
When Pat and Patricia Cook, 79 and 77, became the first in their social circle in McDowell County, N.C. to receive the Moderna vaccine, they suddenly became their friends’ procurement experts.
“We’ve had calls about, you know, ‘What’s the phone number to call to make an appointment?’ " said Mrs. Cook, a former teacher. She and her husband, a retired National Parks employee, helped friends book shots.
The Cooks, known as “Pat and Pat," sit on the board of the McDowell Trails Association, which develops and supports local trails, and usually volunteer weekly at a nearby food hub. Their active lifestyle made it hard to adapt to the shrinking of socializing. Now the net that Mr. Cook fashioned by their garage to practice his golf swing can be dismantled and he is back on the greens.
Since their first Moderna injection, Mr. and Mrs. Cook have begun packing boxes and volunteering at the food hub again. They said the warehouse is big enough that, with double-masks and social distancing, it feels safe.
Their big plan for when they have received both vaccine doses is a June family vacation with their two children and three grandchildren. “We’ve been going to the Carolina beach with our entire family for 28 years," said Mrs. Cook. Last year, it was canceled. This year—so far—it’s going ahead.
“I posted on my Facebook page that it was the first time in my life I was glad to be old," said Mrs. Cook.
Couples with an age gap aren’t as lucky, creating a tricky immunity imbalance. Mr. Slaughter got the Moderna shot, but his 62-year-old wife Maria didn’t. Apart from some outdoor golfing, the vaccine won’t be changing much. “I don’t think it’s fair for me to go out and enjoy life while my wife’s sitting here at home," he said.
The feeling for many newly-vaccinated hasn’t been joy or celebration. For 73-year-old Stuart Isgur, an insurance worker vaccinated recently in Texas’ Tarrant County, simply, “it is relief."
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
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