One-Minute Fiction — Teppanyaki

George had never been to a Japanese steak house before and he’d always wanted to go to one. He thought it would be exciting to sit at a teppanyaki table and watch a skilled Japanese chef dazzle the guests with his skills.

Sadly, the only such restaurant in his small town had been closed since March of 2020 due to the pandemic lockdown. But he read in the local paper that the town’s Japanese steak house had just reopened after his local town council had lifted restrictions on the wearing of face masks at restaurants and other indoor venues. George decided that this was his chance to get the full experience.

He arrived at the restaurant and was surprised that it was close to empty. There was only one other party there, a young couple and their six year old son. For safety reasons, George was seated at one end of the large table and the small family at the other end.

The chef came out and began doing his thing and the young boy was squealing with delight, while his parents were encouraging him with their fake, exaggerated excitement.

George, however, sat at the end of the table with a totally bored expression on his face. He hadn’t had even a morsel of food yet, but he couldn’t hide his disappointment at what was happening. This guy must be an apprentice chef, he thought. But George was here, so he might as well stay and experience his first — and probably his last — meal at teppanyaki restaurant.

Written for Cyranny’s One-Minute Fiction prompt. Photo credit: Cyranny. Also for Ragtag Daily Prompt (apprentice).

Confession: it took me about eight minutes to write and post this. I’m using an iPhone, for crissake. It takes a lot longer to tap out a post on an iPhone than it does typing one on a full-sized keyboard. But I’m still in bed, so cut me some slack. And, for what it’s worth, I enjoy dining at Japanese steak houses, even though it’s probably been five or so years since I was last at one.

5 Things — Lost Skills

Dr. Tanya says that, “Life as we knew it changed a great deal with the pandemic. We humans, being an adaptable species, changed with it. Certain behaviours were reinforced while others were lost.” With that in mind, she has asked us, in this week’s 5 Things, to enumerate some of the things we no longer do or do less frequently.

  1. I no loner shower daily. Every other day will do. And I used to trim my beard and mustache weekly. But now I probably only do that monthly.
  2. I no longer eat out at restaurants or shop at stores, other than occasional trips to the grocery store or drug store. Instead I leverage meal delivery services like DoorDash, grocery delivery services, and, of course, Amazon.
  3. I don’t drive my car as much. Other than two or three trips a week (30 miles round trip) to see my grandkids, I rarely get in the car. No going out for a long drive or heading into town to a restaurant or to a movie or go to the ocean.
  4. I don’t get dressed up. I’m retired and don’t have to dress for work. And unless I’m going out somewhere, which is rare, I usually end up all day wearing a t-shirt, sweatpants, and slippers. If it’s a cool day, I may put on a sweatshirt over my t-shirt. I do put on jeans and sneakers when I go to my son’s place to see my grandkids.
  5. I rarely interact face-to-face with other people, including my neighbors, as most, like us, stay inside their own homes.

5 Things I Need to Keep Telling Myself

Dr. Tanya asks us to list 5 things we we need to keep telling ourselves in these days of the pandemic.

1. I don’t need to shower every day. Every other day is fine. Especially during a drought.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Especially if I’m not going to shower every day.

3. A half pint of Ben & Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream ice cream after dinner each night never hurt anyone.

4. A cannabis-infused marshmallow makes the news less depressing.

5. Exercising is a waste of time and energy. Netflix and chill is far superior.

And So It Ends, And So It Begins

I was originally planning to write a post about what a disappointment 2021 was, but when I read the Editor’s Letter in the latest issue of The Week magazine, written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, William Falk, I decided that he expressed far better than I ever could how disappointing of a year 2021 was. So I thought I’d share with you what he wrote.

This is a dark time in a dark year. It began horribly, with a violent assault on the Capitol intended to stop the peaceful transfer of power — a first for our nation. The climate showed us where we’re headed, as biblical droughts baked the West and sucked reservoirs dry, 115-degree heat waves paralyzed Portland and Seattle, and a polar cold snap froze Texas solid. Forests in the Western U.S. and the world exploded into flames. Monstrous tornadoes — almost never seen in December — erased communities across Kentucky and the Midwest. The pandemic we thought we’d beaten in the spring roared back twice, through Greek-lettered, mutation-disguised variants that have filled hospitals and morgues with the voluntarily unvaccinated. In this season of renewal and of hope, it takes real effort to find optimism about the future in our sore, beleaguered hearts.

We can reasonably hope the pandemic will wane this year at last, after holding humanity hostage for more than two years. But there’s no reason to expect an end to another viral epidemic — of misinformation and tribal hatred — that endangers our democracy. Americans no longer share common facts, information, or trusted sources and experts; a virtual secession has already occurred. Extremists are pushing the parties further apart, and on the Right, a radical, anti-democracy movement is gaining momentum. Three retired U.S. generals warned this week that a disputed presidential election in 2024 could cause “a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines” — and actual civil war. If that sounds nuts, remember that two years ago, an insurrection and a pandemic were just as unimaginable.

In the face of so many troubles and sorrows, what do we do? For perspective, I often think back to what my parents’ generation faced, and how dark it must have felt as 1941 gave way to 1942. Then, as now, surrender was not an option. Curse the darkness. Fight. Persist. The light is coming. Eventually.

The only area on which I may differ with Mr. Falk is where he believes, “The light is coming. Eventually.” I’m not that optimistic. I sincerely hope that he is right and that I am wrong.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Image credit:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #140


Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

A lot of people in 2020, due to COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates, lockdowns, and closed restaurants, stores, and workplaces, relied on online shopping and delivery services. People used online services for meal deliveries, grocery deliveries, and for deliveries of everything from sundries to clothing to pet food to electronics, and to almost anything imaginable.

COVID has plagued us — pun intended — for more than a year and a half and in some areas, thanks to vaccines becoming widely available, things have started to open up. Many restaurants have reopened to serve patrons indoors. Many employers are having employees return to their worksites instead of working from home. Children have returned to attending classes at physical facilities rather than via Zoom classes. And many jurisdictions have eased up on mask mandates and social distancing restrictions.

So my question(s) this week have to do with online shopping for home delivery. Are you ready?

During the height of the pandemic, to what extent did you avail yourself of online shopping for meals, groceries, and other goods and services? If you did use online shopping and delivery services, now that things have eased up a bit, has your reliance on or use of such service continued at the same rate, increased, or decreased. To what extent?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.