This is no fever dream. Washington is actually (for real real) reopening on June 30. But here in Seattle, the first major city in the country to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the 12-and-up population, we’ve been easing ourselves back into our hard pants for weeks. For Seattle Met editors, that means bellying up to bars with drunk strangers again and observing unmasked encounters of the weird and wonderful kind. It sure feels good to be back.

Bros Don’t Litter 

A young, tall man stands at a Queen Anne crosswalk. He has long curly hair, a trucker hat, and eyeballs tattooed on his calves. He finishes his can of White Claw Surge, sets it on the sidewalk, crushes it beneath his flip-flop, picks it up, and proceeds.   

Beach Ready

“Take off your mask, Noelle. You’re at the fucking beach.” —a man at Marina Beach Park in Edmonds to his companion, Noelle, who was at the fucking beach

Book Club

Two friends chat about Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing in the fiction aisle at Elliott Bay Book Company in Capitol Hill. A fellow browser interjects, asking what they’re talking about. They explain. “Sorry,” the stranger says, “I needed some personal human interaction.”

Test Case

“I was going to be a kid tester…then I didn’t want to.” —a local 11-year-old on Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials for children

Waiting to Inhale

A tanned man—sunspots on his face, sunglasses on his nose—wants to get into Fremont Brewing. It’s Memorial Day. The host tells him there’s a wait. “This is worse than California,” he says. When the staff reminds him needn’t go move his car—free holiday parking—he brightens perceptibly. 

Blowing Smoke

A patio smoker at Hula Hula in Capitol Hill issues an apology to his fellow karaoke bar patron after a gust of wind carries his smoky breath into his neighbor’s face. He turns away, then back around. “I’m vaccinated!”

Karaoke King

A person on stage at Hula Hula bellows Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive” to a dwindling crowd.
Singer: “I’m a cowboy…”
Someone in crowd: “You need a mask!” An audience member runs up and affixes mask to performer’s face.
Singer, after a few beats: “Dead or aliiiiive…sorry, guys.”

What a Joke

“This is the most packed, nonventilated place I’ve been in a year and a half.” —comedian Simon Gibson half-jokes during a Parlor Tricks Comedy show at Flying Boots in Ravenna

Potty Talk

“I really missed squatting over a disgusting toilet.” —an audience member half-jokes at said comedy show

Muddled Mandate

In a Capitol Hill bar, a man removes his hat to show off his haircut.
Man: “Did something change about mask rules? I got a haircut Friday and they said I didn’t have to wear a mask.”
Friend: “No, people finally just stopped caring.”

Sea…Hawks!

It’s a balmy evening in Wallingford. A shirtless, sweating, unmasked man in a Seahawks beanie walks by on the sidewalk, then audibly hawks phlegm. 

Work from Pillow

“I do like going back in but I feel like I get homesick by the afternoon. Though my back feels better since I’m not in bed.” —a worker explaining their return to the office to two friends over beer

Makeout Madness

Mountain biker, pondering the upcoming summer of reconnection: “Everyone’s gonna get mono. It’s gonna be like sophomore year of high school all over again.” 
Friend: “High school? I feel like everyone got mono in college.”
First biker: “In college I was having sex; high school was when we were kissing everybody.”

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