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Making a list, getting ready to make up for lost time, which can’t come soon enough

Once this pandemic thing is behind us, my wife and I have plenty of ideas about things we plan to do and places we’ll go. You might have your own ‘what I miss doing most’ list, too.

Remember going out to a restaurant and actually sitting down and eating at the restaurant? Mark Brown does, and he misses that. Especially this one whitefish dish at this place in Clarendon Hills.
Remember going out to a restaurant and actually sitting down and eating at the restaurant? Mark Brown does, and he misses that. Especially this one whitefish dish at this place in Clarendon Hills.

There’s an Italian restaurant we like on Ogden Avenue in Clarendon Hills called ZaZa’s. It’s nothing fancy, just good food.

Even in normal times, we don’t get to ZaZa’s often because it’s quite a hike from where we live now in the city. With the virus, it’s been at least a year since we’ve eaten there.

One of ZaZa’s specialties is something they call Pesce Bianco al Spinaci, which the menu describes as “whitefish roasted with extra virgin olive oil, capers, lemon and white wine, served with a side of fire-roasted spinach.”

It’s soooo good. The fish. The sauce. I can’t stop thinking about it lately.

I’ve pretty much decided to put it at the top of The List.

You know, The List — all the things you want to do when this is finally over.

Surely, you have one by now, if only in your head.

At this point, it’s not so much a matter of whether you’re thinking about what you’re going to do when the pandemic winds down as whether you can think about anything else. That can be a problem, of course, because, even with the vaccines, we’ve still got a long ways to go.

But we can hardly be blamed for daydreaming about the places we’re going to visit, the things we’re going to do, the food we’re going to eat and the people we’re going to see.

I’m not exactly known for being warm and friendly, but I want to be around people again, lots of people in general and some in particular. I’m expecting competition.

The thirst for live experiences is going to be greater than ever when the pandemic is behind us: live music, live sporting events, eating in restaurants, drinking in bars.

I want to see the Sox AND the Cubs (although mostly the Cardinals.) I’m not going to let another year go by without visiting Soldier Field and the United Center, even if the ticket prices are ridiculous.

I want to go to concerts again. Santana has been on my list for months now. Last week, I added Anita Baker after hearing “Sweet Love” again and realizing how much I’d just like to be in the same room with Baker’s voice.

If you’re like me, The List is changing all the time. I hadn’t thought at all about ZaZa’s whitefish until about two weeks ago, and now I’m obsessing over it.

Earlier, I’d been fixated on the Montreal-style brisket sandwich with a side of onion rings from Hopleaf in Andersonville. Come to think of it, I might not be able to wait much longer for that. And I’d better add Five Rabanitos in Pilsen to The List, too.

Some things on The List don’t change.

I want to see my son in Texas. I want to see my brothers and sisters downstate. Those are the losses that have hurt the most.

My wife is drawing up a list of foreign destinations to visit, and I’m all for it. But, after seeing the attack on the Capitol, I also realized it’s been too long since we’ve visited Washington, D.C.

We’ve got friends there and museums we’ve never seen, and — you’re going to recognize a pattern here — I really want to get back to Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Maryland for the crab.

I’d like to come up with a better name for The List. Maybe you can help.

It’s not a bucket list exactly, though, for many of us older types it might double as such, if you understand bucket list to be a bunch of stuff you want to do before you kick the bucket.

Maybe we should call it the Scratch List, short for “scratch that itch” because of everything you’ve been itching to do this past year.

Or the Lost Time List because we’re all going to be trying to make up for lost time, which is coming up on a year now.

Whatever you call your list, I hope it can carry you over until the better times ahead.