Woog’s World: Trying hard to write a non-COVID column
It’s now been 10 weeks - or 2,895,997,325,461 days - since Westport went into a COVID-induced lockdown. We were one of the first towns nationally to be hit hard, thanks to the now-infamous “party” attended by 40, 50 or 200 (depending on who you believe) people, who either had no idea what was coming or who willfully infected relatives, friends, neighbors and random strangers (see above).
Parties now seem like a quaint notion; a throwback to a vague, somewhat strange era, like when people wore bell bottoms or women had “the vapors.” But once upon a time, people did gather in one another’s homes. Without masks or gloves, they hugged upon greeting. They shared food from buffets. They coughed without covering their mouths, and washed their hands perhaps once a day.
But by now, you and I and every other person in America is sick and tired of hearing about people being sick and tired. We need a respite from the virus. So I will devote the rest of this column to any subject except the pandemic.
I’ll start by giving a shout-out to the Staples High School Class of 2020. Congratulations on reaching this great milestone. You were born in the dark days following 9/11. You were in elementary school during the Great Recession. It has not been easy. But as you celebrated your last weeks in school together … uh oh. That doesn’t work.
Okay, I’ll try this. The weather, as always, has been odd. It snowed once this winter in December, then never again until May (which, technically speaking, is spring). April was cold; we built fires this month too. But last weekend the sun came out. Flowers bloomed. A real Westport spring was in the air. So of course we all headed down to the beach. Kids romped on the playground. We brought picnics, and burgers to grill. We … oh my. That doesn’t work either.
Sorry. Let me change subjects. Food! That’s always a great Westport topic. We love dining out, and our restaurant scene is both steady and ever-changing. From the new Chez 180 — the patisserie that opened in early March across from Jeera Thai downtown — to places like Pearl at Longshore (with a new chef who took over at the same time) to old favorites like Tutti’s and Dunville’s in Saugatuck, there’s always something to write about. As Westporters flock inside, filling spaces with easy conversation and the joy of carefree dining … damn!
Real estate! Time to check out the markets. What’s hot? It’s May, so of course there are open houses galore. What better way to spend a weekend than wandering in and out of homes you’ve always wondered about, chatting with realtors and …
… and I guess that doesn’t work either. But you can’t go wrong writing about summer in Westport. It’s one of the glories of our town, and who can ever tire of it? Outdoor concerts at the Levitt Pavilion: rock, jazz, military bands, kids’ music, you name it. It’s all there - and free!
The Westport Country Playhouse is ready to celebrate its 90th season. Since the depths of the Great Depression, the famed stage has hosted nearly every great actor in American theatre. It’s one of the true jewels of our community, and this year’s lineup seems particularly compelling.
The usual outdoor events that draw thousands of folks downtown are a great topic for this column. The Westport Library book sale - taking place this time next to the new, reimagined and way-cool building - along with the Fine Arts Festival and sidewalk sales do more than entertain. Art and literature inspire; commerce is the engine that drives us forward. I can’t imagine life without those … holy moly!
Alright, alright. I’ll turn to my old standbys: the Memorial Day parade and 4th of July (or, as we laughingly call them, the 1st or 2nd or 3rd of July) fireworks. These are two of our most beloved traditions. Say what you will about sophisticated, progressive Westport; when it comes to spirit and fun, nothing beats the thousands of cops and Little Leaguers and fife-and-drummers marching through downtown on the last Monday in May, followed by inspiring speeches by veterans on the green across from Town Hall, or the humongous party a few weeks later that closes Soundview Drive and opens up the entire beach for one raucous night. If you want to know what makes Westport “Westport,” it’s celebrations like these … wow.
I tried. I really tried. I wanted to write a non-COVID column. Readers needed it. I needed it too.
I couldn’t. At least, not today. But I won’t stop trying. This virus is not going to beat “Woog’s World.” And it won’t beat Westport.
Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.