In spite of COVID-19, many Charlotte restaurants, bars, breweries and retailers have remained resilient and some have learned how to pivot in creative ways to sustain. I’m so grateful that, while my friends and family have remained healthy, and my other family — those friends in the industry — have for the most part kept afloat.
And now, as many of the Charlotte bars and restaurants I’ve frequented (and hopefully the local economy) are on the bounce back, returning to a first stage of normalcy, I’m afraid that Phase 2 of Gov. Cooper’s reopening plan might just prove to be an episode of a new VCR box set called Charlotte Gone Wild.
I’ve got a sneak peek at some of the featured characters, but before we get to that, let’s put things in context.
On May 22, after months of isolation, the most stir crazy Charlotteans were granted their wish as North Carolina restaurants, breweries, retail stores, salons, tattoo parlors, pools and more were allowed to open with restrictions. Nevermind the fact that, while new regulations allow for a return to certain establishments, Phase 2 is still called “Safer at Home.”
In other words, yes, you can legally go get yo’ nails did, but stay yo’ ass home. A look at the most recent stats shows that COVID-19 numbers are back on the rise again already.
While some are heeding the warnings of officials to continue to follow Phase 1 restrictions, we knew that a whole lot of people in Charlotte were dying to scratch their isolation itch. And let me tell you, they are scratching like dogs with full-blown fleas (here’s looking at you, South End).
Spend a couple hours on the patio of a Charlotte restaurant or brewery and you will see that some of our favorite characters haven’t changed one bit, and now we have a few more.
They’ve shed their hibernation skins, their inhibitions and they are out in full force.
This person has never understood the concept of personal space even before social distancing, and they damn sure aren’t making adjustments now. While staff members have taken huge measures to keep everyone safe, this person is completely blind to X’s on the floor telling them where to stand and to signs telling them to sanitize before entering.
This person says, “I’ve already had it,” or “I’m immune.” If you’ve heard this asinine comment, it translates to: “I’ve touched everything and everyone and when you’re not looking I won’t wash my hands. But guess what? Don’t worry, I’ve already had it, I’m fine and you needn’t worry about it either.” After a few drinks, they’ll inevitably reel you into a conversation about how coronavirus doesn’t actually exist.
This person walks right past the bathroom sink and out the door. Yep, they still exist, I’ve witnessed it firsthand. This person, especially if they beat you out of the bathroom before you’ve had a chance to identify them, will without guilt use the stall next to you, flush, stand in front of the mirror to adjust themselves without so much as a fleeting thought to run some H2O over their hands.
This person just climbed the fence even though the door was open. Blackout or not, they enjoy the challenge and don’t care if you’re amused. They’ll hit a quick parkour in your face and act like ain’t shit happened.
This person has zero alcohol tolerance. If they had it before, it’s gone now. They emerged out of the quarantine, drank one beer and are already wasted. Watch out for this one, they’ll be holding up a stall in no time.
This person can’t wait to brunch. If you thought something as minute as coronavirus was going to keep these folks from their favorite Sunday morning spot, you need a Frosé stat, honey! The question for them is, “Who makes the list of 10 people!?”
This person ain’t paying. Thotting during coronavirus is still alive and well, and post-quarantine, these thots are thirsty!
This is the person who ends up getting left at the bar by their friends chasing strange tail and they have no idea who or what the other person has been around … and do not care.
This person is off with the mask. In fact, what mask? This person never used one anyway, but they certainly aren’t worried about letting it throw off the ensemble they’ve been waiting to wear out for months. At best, they wear it, take it off for their first drink and just like that, it’s gone quicker than your stimulus check.
If it were any other situation, each of these characters would be wildly amusing. After all, when you haven’t seen these folks in a while you realize that even though you didn’t miss them, you missed laughing at them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not without blame for at least a couple of these, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dip my toe into the Phase 2 nightlife pool — just to survey the Charlotte restaurant landscape for you fine readers, ya know. What I learned was humbling.
If this is what is going to become the norm during Phase 2, what the hell is in store for Phase 3 when bars and nightclubs reopen?
If we don’t take our newfound freedom seriously, it’ll be gone before we know it and we’ll be forced back into the caves from which we crawled — or worse.