While I'm grateful to once again be able to visit some of my favorite lunchtime haunts, I don't think I will ever get used to all of the social distancing and other required protocols that are necessary evils in the current age we're living.
None of those prerequisites are required, however, in the virtual noontime dates we like to share in this space. For in a virtual world of lunches there is no pandemic and we can all be elbow-to-elbow, just like the good ole days.
With that in mind, here's our lineup of guests for this edition of "Lunch with Steve." As always, four old acquaintances, and four whom I would like to someday be old acquaintances:
º Frank Cash, Unity High School athletic director: It's been awhile since Frank "Don't Call Me Johnny" Cash and I have broken bread. I can't imagine the headaches he is enduring due to all of the restrictions and changes brought on high school athletics by governmental mandates tied to COVID-19. I would guess our lunch "hour" might turn into an afternoon. Lunch at: The Shupe Shack in Mendon. Any sandwich will do because I would just want to get to the famous dessert menu.
º Patrick Stewart, actor: The veteran actor, who is now 80, is arguably the greatest "Star Trek" captain -- ever. Stewart's Capt. Jean-Luc Picard character now ranks atop most Star Trek popularity polls, with apologies to William Shatner (aka Capt James T. Kirk). More than anything, I'd like to ask him what his favorite Star Trek project has been. Lunch at: Sonic in Hannibal, Mo. I'll suggest Stewart try one of the breakfast sandwiches.
º The Rev. Sheri Renner, pastor of Living Faith United Methodist Church in Bowen: Sheri's one of the most in-touch pastors I have ever known and I always look forward to running into her. I will ask her to provide a song before we eat. For those of you who might now, Sheri is quite the vocalist. Lunch at: The Paloma Diner, where most orders normally provide more food than any one human being can possibly eat.
º Carole Baskin, "conservationist" from the "Tiger King" mini-series on Netflix: I need to know more about Carole and her role in the real-life undoing of rival animal enthusiast Joe Exotic. Lunch at: The Grove Inn, where after a burger and fries we can play a little outdoor volleyball.
º Jeff "The Big Dog" Dorsey, local radio personality extraordinaire: If there are two people in Quincy who enjoy a well-rounded lunch, it is two well-rounded people like Jeff and myself. And 99% of the lunch conversation will deal with sports. Lunch at: Kelly's, where we will both have an order of those magnificent fried mushrooms.
º Ed O'Neill, actor: Sure, he was a longtime star of "Modern Family," but for me, Ed O'Neill will always be Al Bundy from "Married ... With Children." First thing we'll discuss is his football career at Polk High. Lunch at: Maid Rite. I'm pretty sure Ed could scarf down a couple of mega-rite sandwiches with no trouble.
º Jimmy Lieurance, race operations director at Quincy Raceways: Jimmy and I can discuss the 2021 season, because there's little chance for any 2020 racing. It's been shut down due to the pandemic, and it's likely the next green flag at the Broadway Bullring won't be until next April. Lunch at: We'll have track operator Jason Goble open up the concession stand and grill us a couple of trackburgers, just for old time's sake.
º Miguel Almagur, NBC News: Miguel is the guy who normally gets the most dangerous assignments, and I think it would be incredibly interesting to hear about some of the stories he has detailed for NBC news anchor Lester Holt. Lunch at: For a guy who's been sent to every corner of the world, I bet he's never enjoyed a pizza from a Casey's General Store for lunch. It's the perfect meal for a guy on the go.
And until next time, if we happen to meet, lunch is on me!