No Holds Barred: Taking the ‘reigns’

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It was a funny visual — a whole row of airline passengers twirling their facemasks over their heads like strippers tossing their G-strings in an orgasmic finale.

Last Monday our world suddenly changed in an hour with the dropping of mask mandates. Now it’s bareface vs. maskaholics. And never the twain shall meet.

It seems YOLO (you only live once) has taken control of many minds and there’s no looking back now. For some, Covid is officially over. So go max out on your life! For others, it’s still too soon to get the 4th booster — but booster we must at the first sign of an impending surge. And you had better stock up on those expiring at-home tests while you wait. Once again, we are a split nation of free-wheeling thinkers. But meanwhile, all we are getting is continued mix messaging from most scientific and political leaders.

It’s time to take the ‘REIGNS’ into our own hands! (This is my literary nod to the Queen on her 96th birthday.)

The Queen’s official portrait in celebration of her 96th birthday. Photo: ©Henry Dallal Photography.

So, gang way for a madcap spring and summer. Did the inmates steal the prison keys? We will soon see.

It’s clear we are all flip-flopping due to pandemic pent-up. As Zen masters often say, “Beware… the bigger the front, the bigger the back.” We are about to swing for the rafters. So, buckle up.

Sure, there is massive inflation, but it doesn’t seem to have affected many consumers. People are now burning through their credit cards with expensive (no sales here) retail and travel. “We’re Back” is the victory chant. But back to what exactly?

One of the reasons I have no need to shop!

I haven’t been in a clothing store in two years because I have no need to shop. I was too busy divesting my closets and didn’t have a reason to acquire anything. Shopping has a lot to do with “occasion” (weddings, funerals, dates) or retail therapy (I feel sorry for myself so why not squander $850 on a “sugar high” accessory I will wear once and dump). I had neither an “occasion” or was too “down and out of it” to reach for a “feel good” escapist lift-off.

My life has changed. I am two years older. The landscape has thinned out considerably and so has my hair. Tried and true “go-to” rescues (shopping, travel, even early dinners with some pals) no longer work. I know this will take some time. I am in for a long-haul recovery. Remember when a rescue puppy got people through early Covid? Now those dogs are back in dog pounds. I might never find my “break out” event. I am a slow healer.

Last week I ventured into a brand new “couture boutique” in Scottsdale selling highly curated expensive name-brand collections. One piece per size. I never bought from this scene before Covid, but I saw all these women leaving the store with multiple shopping bags and I was curious. There was no sale going on. I cruised the store in 15 minutes.  Nothing was below $1500. The shoppers were young, and I realized they were not “occasion” shopping. They were binge blasting — scooping up a $2000 McCartney Silk boho blouse to wear to Starbucks. Clothes don’t need a rhyme or a reason nowadays. But WE DO! Or so I thought.

I used to love shopping — to kill time and semi treasure hunt. It never had to do with emptying my wallet in a splurge for nothing.  As I watched these women topping out with glee, I suddenly felt like I need a Viagra to get my shopping mojo back. What was I missing here?  Was I just jealous?  “Shop till you drop” left me at Covid and I have yet to get it back. Do I even want to?

Jealous? I think not.

Travel has become another “blow-out” experience. People are accepting 40% markups on airline tickets. Coast to Coast rates have gone from $800 to $1000 — and that’s not first class. And considering your flight might get cancelled and it will take multiple hoop jumps to change your ticket status. Pilots and stewardesses are struggling with shortages and airports are mobbed and ugly. It never was “fly the friendly skies.” At least now you won’t get sucker punched if you go maskless.

People booked their summer trips months ago — they are going no matter what — even if they have to break their banks and stand in line for four hours.  They have been bored to their core staying home for 2 ½ years streaming political rants, movie star scandals, and episodic sex romps. Have we “built back better” yet?  Not exactly, and we don’t seem to have any immediate plans to do so.

But … will everyone crash land when they get their late summer credit card bill?  Will we suddenly wake up from this LSD “live till I die” trip with a bill to pay which we never imagined? Will we be able to tally how little we got for how much we spent?  That remains to be seen.  In the meantime, don’t rain on my cost ineffective parade.

Maybe next year we will ask the question before we splurge, “Is this trip (or pants, or car, or face cream, or shoes) NECESSARY?”

Remember some of the key Covid originated terms — like “essential,” “sustainability,” and “frontlines?”  Now “Essential” is a new lipstick, “Sustainability” is a denim clothing line, and “Frontlines” is a video game (and you can be sure “Super Spreader” margarine is just around the corner).

Speaking of flip flopping — I just read about the rumors of Bob Iger returning to Disney to help Mickey Mouse re-align with the recent LGBT debacle. And Howard Schultz returned a month ago to the “ailing” Starbucks (he founded it) to help “re-imagine a new purpose again.” Can we go home again with the old cast of players? Especially with serious rising prices, labor shortages, and global competition all around? Good luck to one and all.

But it is a new day. And I keep hearing how hard it is to get the toothpaste back in the tube (that would surely be easier than trying to get the country back on mask mandates again — can you imagine?).

I leave you with my current antidote for these challenging flip-flopping days of finding a new life amidst the rubble. Go watch Summer Stock (Judy Garland and Gene Kelly – 1950).

Apparently, Judy Garland filmed “Get Happy” in one take at a time she was at her lowest.

Forget your troubles, c’mon get happy,
You better chase all your cares away.
Shout “hallelujah”, c’mon get happy,
Get ready for the judgment day.

Now I ask you, what could be simpler and truer — not to mention the greatest tuxedo jacket and fedora.

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