The Life-Saving Bubble

Neighbors Jerry Bacon and Daunne Zinger with husband Gary Hattal

So these are the friends who have saved each other from depression, misery, and frozen TV dinners during the pandemic. At the very beginning of the Covid 19 lockdown in the early spring of 2020 we took turns meeting in front of our homes, shivering in the chill wind with glasses of wine in gloved hands one night per week. Soon we were adding snacks and moving to each other’s garages to escape the weather. We were masked until the moments when we raised a glass to our lips. We were distancing. And after a while we were serving better and better hors d’oeuvres, forsaking masks altogether as we sat far apart in the space where a truck had stood.

True, the atmosphere in Daunne and Jerry’s garage with both doors open wasn’t exactly romantic. We were all bundled up in heavy coats and hats, but once a week we had something to which we could all look forward with a certain giddy anticipation—conversations with other like-minded human beings. I don’t remember when we all decided to become a pandemic bubble, that is, the people with whom we could meet without worrying about Covid. Oh, we were still plenty careful, masked and gloved on the once-a-week run to the grocery store, but Daunne and Jerry were really the only people we saw socially or allowed in the house. If we moved to the large dining table at our house instead of the garage it was with all the windows and doors open and place settings six feet apart. Hors d’oeuvres became dinners, which included yummy desserts.

Summer of 2020, although terrible for so many, was wonderful for us. Both couples have decks and BBQ grills. We live directly across the street, so any worries about the long drive home after dinner was eliminated. Best of all, we knew that one night per week, either Saturday or Sunday, we could eat out or have the fun of hosting our friends. We live on an island that has a limited number of restaurants that even offered takeout during this time, mostly a Chinese restaurant, and sometimes a food truck that sold burgers on the weekends. We resorted to these options very rarely, but instead put a little effort into creating really fine, restaurant quality meals for each other. We set beautiful tables. We began with cocktails and interesting snacks. Daunne is Mistress of Salads. Jerry does a pork roast that is absolutely spectacular, and great burgers and fish. I do a wide range of international dishes, and Gary pops for good wine and Scotch whisky. Actually, so do Daunne and Jerry. We’ve all come up with some outrageously good desserts.

Vaccinations in the winter of 2021 and masking have made a huge difference to us in terms of getting out to shop, allowing us to venture from our homes to local places that are newly reopening, and building our comfort level with other people, but our bubble is still enduring and better than ever. It has been a lifeline, a source of pleasure, abiding friendship, and has certainly pushed our culinary skills to new heights. We’ve all tried new dishes, new techniques, and new flavors. Even given the arrival of booster shots and greater protection, I doubt that we will give up the bubble that has saved us during the isolation and sadness of the pandemic. Friendship has taken on new dimensions, and our appreciation for one other has deepened as time goes on. I wish all of you the joys of a truly great bubble!

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