By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – Happy New Year! We are spending the holiday in south Louisiana in our cabin on Bayou Teche. Because I will be driving back on Sunday and back at work on Monday, I’m writing this post on the actual first day of the year. We just finished our traditional “good luck” New Year’s meal which of course includes cabbage and black eyed peas. I also cooked a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin stuffed with andouille sausage and shrimp. We are sitting pretty fat and happy right now.
I took a moment to check some emails today and I see where the school system will soon be offering the Covid-19 vaccine for teachers and school staff. The vaccine should be available to us in the next couple of weeks. Am I going to take it? You bet I am. Sign me up. We will be getting the Moderna vaccine, I am told.
I’m so sick of this virus and the limitations it has put on everyone. I guess it varies somewhat from state to state, but honestly the restrictions that so many business owners must face seem so absurd. For example, we drove over the levee this morning to stop by Turtle’s Bar which is on the Atchafalaya Basin. The swamp is beautiful at any time of year, but there is something about it in the winter that just draws me.
Steve asked Tanya, the bartender, “Well! Did y’all have fun last night?” because, of course, New Year’s Eve, right?
“Yeah,” she said, “until 11:00.” Bars in Louisiana are required to close at 11:00. Because apparently the virus does not spread until after 11? Who knows? We were the only people in there at that hour, along with one other guy and with the exception of the people who live on houseboats there that walk up to her window to place an order.
We stood at the bar and swapped stories for a while, and I tried to pull up one of the bar stools to sit down. “Oh, you can’t do that!” Tanya said. “It’s against regulations because of Covid. You can’t sit at the bar.” But…you can stand at the bar and that is okay.
Even stranger – the bartender can serve you at the bar but she can’t walk over to your table and serve you. You have to walk to the bar to get your drink, and you have to wear a mask when you walk to the bar, but once you sit back down, you can take it off again.
It all borders on the absurd.
I have several musician friends who were at home last night, without a gig, for the first time in their careers. No live music is allowed.
But hey, the casinos are apparently non-viral zones because all of our local riverboat casinos are in full swing.
The numbers for new cases and hospitalizations are higher now than they have ever been. I have more friends now who are sick than I ever have. One of my best friends has had fever for two solid weeks now and it runs about 102 even taking Tylenol and Advil every three hours. She has no taste or smell and says it’s the worst she’s ever felt in her life. Her husband is a heart patient and he has recently tested positive as well. I’m quite concerned for both of them.
I’m ready for people to be able to get back to work, for businesses to reopen and recover, and for the music to begin again. I’m ready to see full sports stadiums and concerts. I’m ready to teach school mask-free and to see my students’ faces and smiles again.
So, yes, I’ll take the vaccine. I’m not concerned. Bring it on.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.