Martha and I did something yesterday we haven’t done for five months — ate at a restaurant.

I’ve been getting restless spending all day, every day, in our house. Sure, I’ve gone for extended walks around our community, and we’ve run a few errands that didn’t involve being inside any venue for more than a few minutes, but the only food we’ve eaten has come from forays to a supermarket or via curbside pickup at some local eateries.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ready to burst out of the house and gather around a bunch of other people or join a party at Lake Of The Ozarks, but just getting in the car and going for a nice drive seemed like a good way to break the boredom. We hadn’t made the scenic drive to Labadie, Missouri, for over 15 years, so when the weather turned beautiful yesterday, we went for a ride.

As lovely as that was — lots of greenery, beautiful homes, horses and deer and other wildlife by the side of the road — upon arriving in Labadie, we remembered it isn’t really a hotbed of anything. In fact, its main drag only has about a dozen businesses, three of which serve food. One of them, the Coal Fire Grill, had outdoor tables and only one other party of four women having lunch.

We sat down at a table at the other end of the porch — and the first thing we noticed was that we were the only ones wearing masks. That included the waitress, the other diners, and the dozen or so people we saw going into places across the street. Not a single mask on any of them. Then again, Franklin County (where Labadie is located) has only had a few hundred COVID-19 cases and 18 deaths, so it’s not exactly a hot zone for the disease.

Still, we kept our masks on as the server took our order, removing them only when the food arrived, and putting them back on whenever she approached to refill our beverages, see if we needed anything, or bring us the check. We weren’t overly concerned, just continuing to be cautious. But there was one thing that did really bother us.


We weren’t ready for them, because at home, the only place we eat outside is in our screened-in patio room, where the flying insect population remains pretty close to zero. But these suckers were so dedicated to getting at our food that I had to keep one handing waving over my pulled pork sandwich the entire time just to shoo them away. It was a shame, because the food was quite delicious.

But it seems ironic that what will keep us from eating outdoors at other restaurants isn’t the risk of inhaling respiratory droplets containing a deadly contagious virus, but the constant vigilance necessary to keep flies from landing on our meals.