Garn the Magnificent found himself on another long layover on Earth, so he arranged to visit his friend Carol. After a few messages and videolink calls, he stepped outside of the interplanetary transit center and searched for local transportation. It took several tries, but he finally found a rare yellow ground-car for hire. After a trip more harrowing than the time he’d had to ride a wild Gros-nak on Talon III, he finally knocked on Carol’s front door.
The door opened just a few inches and he could just see one corner of Carol’s eye through the small crack.
“Are you wearing a face mask?” She asked, her voice slightly muffled.
Garn rolled his eyes but nodded. “Of course, my dear,” he told her – though it sounded more like ‘m-orf, muhdur’ through the thick mask. “They were distributing them at the transit center.”
“Cool Beans!” Carol threw open the door and she was wearing her own mask, though hers was fabric and brightly colored.
“Oh – you look particularly fetching tonight!” Garn exclaimed. “Those pink long-necked birds on your face-covering are quite stylish.”
Carol’s cheeks pinkened above her face covering. “Thanks. I sewed it myself.”
“My, you’re a handy human!”
Garn went to deliver one of the three acceptable Earth greetings – something called a hug – but Carol quickly danced out of reach.
“Oh – the Centers for Disease Control say no touching,” she said somewhat apologetically. “Not for at least a few more months, anyway.”
“How odd,” he mumbled as she stepped back to allow him entrance into her abode. “So – how have you been?”
“Good, just catching up on my Netflix watchlist,” she chirped brightly.
“Good, good,” he said absently, trying to decode whatever she was saying. The mask made it difficult to understand, but he thought she was referring to a popular Earth entertainment provider. His other Earth friend Sandy called it her favorite ‘time waster.’
“Say – I’ve been cooped up here for weeks – do you want to go out to dinner somewhere?”
“Really?” Garn said eagerly. “I thought all eating establishments were closed for the duration of your virus epidemic!”
“Oh, right,” she said sadly. Then she brightened suddenly. “Hey! I know of one place that’s open – but we have to take the food to go.”
“Like a picnic?”
She nodded vigorously. “Great idea. I know of a great park – the tables are huge, so we’ll be able to stay six feet apart the whole time.”
Garn wasn’t sure what the significance of six Earth measurement units was, but the sun was shining and the flowers were blooming, so it was a fine day for outside dining.
Within moments, Carol had her feet covering on and he was following her outside to where she kept her ground-car.
“Oh,” she exclaimed as she brushed several inches of yellow dust from her vehicle. “Sorry, you can tell I haven’t driven in a while – it’s pollen season, you know.”
“Hmmm,” Garn agreed, though Earth pollen seemed to be much tamer than on other worlds. On his home world, Cambia, pollen actually flew around on tiny wings – which was quite annoying.
Finally, they were ensconced in Carol’s car – with Garn in the backseat to observe the proper distancing – and travelling towards that most wondrous of rarities – an earth restaurant that was actually still serving food.
Garn’s stomach growled mightily and Carol giggled. “I can’t wait to have one of their shakes, too. Hey – let’s have some fun and get happy meals!”
“Happy meals? What are those?” he asked. However, before Carol could answer, they turned left into a parking lot and pulled up to a somewhat familiar set of Golden Arches. Garn gazed out of the car’s window as his hopes for gourmet dining were yet again dashed.
“McDonalds,” he murmured in dismay. Next time, he might simply video call his good friend Carol. It was safer.