Robin Swoboda: Longing for pre-COVID-19 normalcy and hibachi restaurant shrimp tosses

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“COVID restrictions have affected everything. My brother said they went to that hibachi place in Akron and the chefs have stopped tossing shrimp in your mouth. Now it’s just rice balls.”My friend and I laughed at her tale and then I told her that I never cared for the whole act of catching anything in my mouth, let alone a shrimp at a public restaurant.”Do they still shoot the sake in people’s mouths?” I asked.”I’m not sure about that,” she said. “If they don’t, it’s probably not because of COVID. The last time we were there I saw an older woman swallow the whole bottle herself while the rest of the table yelled, ’Go! Go! Go!’ “That’s not my style either, but to each her own. However, I do yearn for a return to those days when life was, well, normal.The masks and the isolation are getting to me.Long before the mask mandate, though, I had noticed that more and more people were making less eye contact with strangers. Walking with their cellphone in hand or just looking down at the pavement, they avoided what used to be the …

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