Quiz #109. “Do you want it to look like the picture?”

How do you like your banana splits--and other important questions for the first day of Spring. Steve's Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz for March 21, 2021.

Saturday, March 20, 2021.  The first day of Spring. Clear skies, a beautiful blue with just a touch of March’s coolness in the air.  Sara and I decided to venture outside the house, with masks, for a small, local outing.  It was all socially distanced and almost everything we did was outside, but the things we did were all things we haven’t done for more than a year.  They weren’t much, and yet they were everything.

Friday, for the first time in a year, I’d worn a collared shirt for a series of special meetings at work.  All virtual, of course.  One on Teams, the other on Zoom. Saturday, as part of our outdoor adventure, I went to the dry cleaners for only the second time in a year.  They have plastic partitions set up.  I was masked as was the owner.  I dropped off a few sweaters that had gotten worn and dirty over the year plus the collared shirt from Friday.  Moments after I left the dry cleaners, as I walked toward our van, the owner called me from the sidewalk.  She’d found some shirts of mine.  They were ready for pick up--more than ready. They’d been there for a year. I hadn’t noticed.  It felt strange to think of them there for this long, crazy and unexpected year.  A symbol of so many aspects of our lives which have been on hold. The dry cleaners, the owner told me, was still hanging on. She’s ready for business to pick back up. She was surprised it hadn’t happened yet.

For a year, Sara and I have avoided ordering any food or drinks from a drive-thru.  As mentioned in Quiz #108 Milk First?, I had gone to a McDonald’s with Annie in February.  Windows open, masks on.  On Saturday, as part of our small venture into the outside world, Sara and I decided to get coffee at a drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts—our first Dunkin’ in a year. Again, windows open, masks on and “Keep the change.”  Of course, we’ve had more than our fair share of coffee over the last year, but drinking and driving (coffee in a paper cup with a plastic top) felt great.  We went from the Dunkin’ drive-thru to a large, local park and took a walk along a series of lakes.  Again, distanced, masked and outside.  The first walk beyond daily walks with the dogs. It felt like an adventure. It felt great.

We rounded out our local outing with a stop at Dairy Queen—our first trip to DQ in more than a year. Outdoors with markers on the pavement for six feet of separation. Teens working, taking orders from inside, behind glass.  I ordered a banana split.  The young woman asked, “Do you want it to look like the picture?” 

I was surprised at first--and actually stepped back to take a look at the picture inside the big front window.  A trio of ice cream mountains in a plastic boat, a split banana at their side, strawberries, pineapples and chocolate sauce dripping down with whipped cream on the top.  I answered something like, “I guess so--just give me the things you usually put on a banana split—and please use chocolate ice cream.” 

As the teen prepared the order, Sara and I stood aside at the separate window set up for socially distanced pick up. Another woman approached the order window and she too ordered a banana split. Again, the teen asked, “Do you want it to look like the picture?”  This woman simply answered, “Yes.”

In part, the question was a short-hand.  Instead of listing all the ingredients, ”Would you like strawberries, pineapples, chocolate sauce and whipped cream?” and then getting a complicated answer for the possible variations, “No pineapples but two sets of strawberries—and make the ice cream chocolate,” asking “Do you want it to look like the picture?” was a simple way to ask if there was any customization which the customer might request.  Sticking to the picture, if that’s the answer from those who haven’t thought about it, is also easy solution for the teenagers who work at Dairy Queen.

Sara and I took our ice cream home and ate it on the back deck with Will.  (We’d gotten him an ice cream.)  My banana split didn’t exactly look like the picture. 

Was I disappointed?  Hell, no.  It was great. I love to eat and there is nothing better to celebrate something good than with food that’s bad for you.  My Saturday celebration diet included French fries and burgers (dinner) plus a banana split and a glazed donut (I can’t just order a coffee at Dunkin’) in the afternoon, all on top of not one but two sticky buns for breakfast.

With more and more people getting vaccinated, it’s clear that we have turned a corner in the pandemic. After a dismal February with vaccine shortages, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  As noted in Quiz #108 Milk First?, we’ve gone from Tuesday, the worst day of the week, to Wednesday, hump day when the weekend is in sight.  In both news stories and conversations with family and friends, people are beginning to talk and think about what they want to do in the “after.”

After their vaccine. 


Hugging grandchildren.  

Going to a baseball game.

It all sounds great and yet it’s difficult to comprehend.  In part, it’s because it’s becoming clear that returning to “normal” will be complicated.  With variants and polls showing that some 40% of Republicans may resist  getting the vaccine, ending this pandemic will not be like flipping a light switch.  The end is still a ways off and there will be bumps and bruises (and worse) yet to come.

The other complication with contemplating the “after” is simply this.  We have great expectations for what things will be like.  In Quiz #93. Unhinged and Quiz #94. “… it glows,” I highlighted a great quote from Tommy Tomlinson about how much he likes  the anticipation that’s such a key part of any day before a holiday;

So few things are great enough to exceed our expectations. But that's not necessarily a flaw in reality. It's a credit to our imagination. The day before is the day to imagine. You don't have to worry about the moment. In some ways, the day before is the real holiday.

So, as you ponder your “after,” ask yourself one question,  “Do you want it to look like the picture?”


Like what you’ve been reading here? Please feel free to share this quiz with others who you think might enjoy it.

What did NOT happen?

A. Sara started out our adventure Saturday by getting her hair cut in the backyard of a woman who used to work at a salon that Sara went to for year;

B. In looking through past quizzes, I noticed that on March 20, 2020, I wrote about my first experience with Zoom in Quiz #7. Zoom.  On Saturday, March 20, 2021, I set up a Zoom for a friend.  That Zoom had people from six different countries;

C. Betsy, a school teacher in our town, got a vaccine last Sunday after parents from the PTA went on web-sites at 4AM to get vaccination appointments for our town’s teachers who are now eligible to get them in New Jersey;

D. Betsy is a volleyball coach for the JV team at our local high school.  They had their first two matches this week.  They’re 2-0;

E. With the start of March Madness, I am only running one NCAA pool this year.  Given the complications of coronavirus and the possibility of canceled games (there has already been one), I followed the example of a friend and decided not to run the pool with entry fees and prize money.  Those playing are being asked to donate to charity instead as we play for pride.

Want the answer?

Answer #109. “Do you want it to look like the picture?”

If you’re a subscriber, the answer will be sent to you as a separate email when the question is published.

Want more?

Here’s the next quiz in the series: Quiz #110. 28 Days.

Here’s the previous quiz in the series: Quiz #108. Milk First?

Here’s the first quiz in the series: Quiz #1. Stella and Social Distancing, March 13, 2020

Here is an archive of all the quizzes.

The quiz is explained here: Steve’s Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz.

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