Whether it is cooped up or coup d’état, we all want it over with (that would be the virus and the election). An endless fatigue has set in that is making us feel lax even with last week’s viral resurgence. We are losing interest, so our masks are slipping below our nose and our vigilance is faltering. It’s getting old and we are getting older. Remember last March when we were all in it to win it? Nightly we banged pots in our cities from apartment windows for all medical first responders. That seems years ago. We’ve gone from cheers to jeers. We’ve morphed from impatience to rage to exhausted disinterest.
It’s called No Man’s Land and we just want the election behind us. One way or another! It feels like both the virus and the election peaked months ago and now there’s no more oxygen left in the room.
But it hasn’t. Instead we have to face a second “wave” called winter, and 2021, and the actual political outcome.
Forget politics, what have we learned from Covid so far? That our priorities have seriously changed or maybe we now have priorities for the first time? There’s a lot of friends that are no longer necessary in our lives — too much meaningless banter and filler. Doctors, first responders, Amazon and UPS delivery people, hairdressers, restauranteurs are now Covid “stars” and are more popular than politicians.
Our social lives are smaller and feel less complicated. Now everyone needs their own desk and workspace. Home is where the heart and work is. Staying healthy is more than a Peloton class. Kids need school. Choose skincare over makeup. Comfort rules but not when it costs a 15-pound weight gain. Fresh air is a high-priced luxury. Backyards and terraces are now a real estate must. Zoom is awful but better than nothing. Drugs and alcohol are crucial but “use as needed.” Teledoc is a gift and a blessing. Masks will never be a fashion statement and are universally despised, but shut up and mask up. Every politician and yes, scientist, has two sides to every story and still … no one knows Shit! So far, the only winter accessory to own is a Pendleton blanket or a Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat for outdoor dining!
Recently someone told me that asking, “How are you?” is now cancelled speech. Really? That ends my entire conversational repertoire. It seems it is too much pressure to come up with an answer. So now what? A mere wave? A head nod? A simple deep sigh? Why bother at all?
Style magazines and newspaper sections are having the worst time of it. They keep promoting “simple pleasures” and “living necessities” but the layouts like that of the Wall Street Journal’s magazine are confusing — a “diversified” couple wearing pricey Hermes pants (for him) and a brocade evening gown and Jimmy Choo heels (for her) nuzzling on the porch of some log cabin in Connecticut. As the WSJ editor explained, “Cashmere turtlenecks and sweaters with fur coats and evening gowns evoke pared down American glamor.” For whom? What world are they talking about? Unfortunately, fantasy is a hard sell of late. And frankly, “style” has taken a serious backseat and big plunge for most people.
The same goes for travel. Sure, we would all love to drop everything and venture off to a wildlife estate in Africa — or a National Park, or Paris, or Morocco. But there are now actual travel bans, transmission counts, and death rates to consider before booking that dream escape. As writer Alison Humes recently lamented, “Travel life used to be unpredictable and part of the fun of travel — now it’s about changing flight schedules, public bathrooms, seat mates, middle seats, taxis, car rentals, all with masks, hand sanitizers, shields and gloves. Each station of the cross will have its own protocol of checking, waiting, disinfecting and documenting.”
No kidding, and where is the flight of fancy in any of that? Actually, I have all that on my weekly run to the Safeway. That is my “Trip to Bountiful” and, believe me, it is enough of a game changer.
Which brings me to the Covid idea of “essentials” — and my own form of “simple pleasures.” Last week that involved voting and going to Scottsdale’s City Hall drop box. My “essential” piece of jewelry of the moment is my “I voted” sticker which remained on my shirt for a week. It was a big outing for me, and I got DRESSED UP (leggings, work shirt, and Allbirds sneakers).
My next stop was my great doctor for a flu shot (my very first!). We usually schmooze but no more, because masks leave me deaf and he has a tight Covid “in-office” schedule to keep. I returned home in 80 minutes more exhausted than when I used to go out in my pre-Covid days for some simple four-hour errands.
I used to “browse” in stores or “kill time” in drugstores. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t want to “shop” or even “just look” for anything anymore. I don’t need anything because where am I going? Nowhere! Also, the masks make me very mindful — not joyful. I go into a store and get out in record time. No social interaction. No big time purchasing. Retail will continue to struggle with that consumer issue, and it will take a while to regain any ground (online is another story).
I just heard from a consumer reporter that we might want to stock up again on toilet tissue and Lysol wipes due to the next big winter spike. Lysol isn’t shipping till January? How did that happen? Didn’t they get the message in the last sell out in March? And buy extra zinc tablets and Tylenol as well, as some of that is made in China?! Remember how we used to splurge on expensive department store first floor items like lipstick and perfume and eye cream? Now it’s Duane Reade’s handwipes, rubbing alcohol and Advil.
I do wonder what Black Friday (will they still call it that?) will look like with no stores really opening and no door-blasting stampedes of people running out carrying 90-inch Sony TVs. I think I will actually miss that kind of “paid for” looting.
But holiday online shopping is already happening with gusto. And as for Thanksgiving family gatherings? I think Covid gave us all a welcome relief. No more anxious travel bookings, relatives with overamped opinions, unnecessary gift giving, and overall phony ”togetherness.” Covid might have gotten high marks in knocking off that kind of exhausting congregation.
It seems Covid’s biggest message to one and all is less is more and you best find some simple common ground with everybody in your world to survive.
If only they could make a vaccine for that.