No Holds Barred: “The Big Stuck”

Featured image
Archangel Michael reaching to save souls in purgatory, by Jacopo Vignali, 17th century. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

September was always about “the next thing”; new school year, Jewish New Year, new fashion shows, new cars, traveling to a new getaway. Fall was about “turning the page.” But now we are stuck in high stagnation. The pause button has been pressed.

Le Grand Saint Michel, by Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio), Archangel Michael defeating evil.

We are frozen between two worlds: going forward or going back. And it feels permanent. The vaccines have flatlined. I keep hearing about some lucky people getting booster shots the way I used to hear about scoring the latest street drug. Boosters are the status item now. Even the word “booster” is being used for vitamin and face fillers and sex toys.

But boosted is so not what we feel and, in the end, “boosted” to what exactly? So far, we are losing hundreds of medical workers and travelers can’t even find decent Covid test sites. The economy is on a wobble. And oh, those perilous returns to school.

Many people feel back to square one with no playing board. Others keep hoping they are looking to a decent horizon line, but can’t find one. It’s called “the big stuck.”

Now you can always march in place and pretend you are back — like New York Fashion Week and the Met Gala (now appealing mostly to super young Instagram influencers) and even charity parties. There aren’t even diversion activities anymore. You can even pretend that the USA still is the biggest world power — even though some are admitting Osama Bin Laden really won in the end.

None of us are what we used to be, and we have all aged in the last two years. So, it’s no wonder plastic surgery continues to explode like another epidemic. It is one way of moving backward and looking better for it.  Although look at Joe Biden — a face full of “work” but sagging under the stress. Also, there’s been a rise of “alien” faces as more cosmetic surgeons are overdoing injections, because of all the distorted beauty standards promoted on the social media platforms; duck lips, winged out cheek bones, and Cirque du Soleil eyebrows.  It seems the doctors have dropped the duty of “do no harm” for the “more is more” approach.

Only Dolly Parton can get away with body enhancement and be applauded. Recently she recreated her Playboy magazine photo shoot (30 years ago) for her husband’s birthday. She tweeted, “It’s always Hot Girl Summer for my husband Carl. Happy Birthday my love.” And there she was at 75 in the same sexy bustier, black gloves, white and pink bowtie, and bunny ears. Nobody does it better!

“When you got it, flaunt it.”

But on the opposite end is the recent “glum and glummer” photo spread of Hillary and Bill on the Hamptons Beach. Bill looks at 75 very ravaged and yet paunchy. But Hillary looks … multi-muffin topped and beyond bloated in a long sleeve sloppy t-shirt and giant cargo pants. Gone is the billion-dollar glam squad. I get that it’s not fair to fat shame the former First Lady/Secretary of State. Maybe she is sending out a popular message of liberation: “Give it all up, let it all hang out.” Could that be the look of NOW — “Stagnation Chic?”

And all these “over-the-hill” Bill and Hill pictures appeared as Ryan Murphy’s Impeachment; American Crime Story (about the Monica Lewinsky scandal) premiered on FX-TV.  Ten episodes? On a topic that seems so stale already? The cigar? The blue dress? Haven’t we gone over this enough? Seems old and tame next to Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita jet and Harvey Weinstein’s open terry cloth Peninsula robe. Those were the days we traded news for tabloid gossip — and now we‘ve traded scandals for the daily Instagram/Facebook narcissistic hype accounts. Social media has made the “me generation” look highbrow and fascinating.

A scene from Impeachment. Old and tame lame.

By the way, the latest in high-end injections, both medical and cosmetic (you can get it at a fancy “wellness clinic” or plastic surgeon), are called the Monoclonal Antibody Treatment “available to individuals who have been exposed to or tested positive for Covid 19.” It’s supposedly some kind of liquid protein that resembles antibodies and helps your immune system.  It seems as sound as a B12 shot or a Vitamin C infusion. In other words, you will surely have expensive urine.

So which direction do you want to put your gear shift in? Forward, reverse or just leave it in idle?

Which brings me to the death of my 99-year-old mother on September 4th (and not from Covid!). My mom was the strongest person I ever met. Even my dad thought so and he landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy! She never suffered from any significant medical condition, and her blood scores were that of a 25-year-old.  She has been living with me for the last five years and she was my best friend, my biggest inspiration (the source of all my “material”), and eternal ally. We had a unique mother/daughter relationship that many envied, and others never understood. We were NOT Big or Little Edie Beale and we were never Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Audrey Sabol, and her daughter Blair, at table celebrating Audrey’s 98th birthday.

Six months ago, she announced she was ready to die. She had had a fortunate and wonderful life, but enough was enough. And who could blame her? She immediately stopped reading. And mom was a voracious reader and had said the secret to her long life was book reading. I knew it would be time when she ran out of books. About a week before she passed, she stopped eating.  At that point, Hospice arrived at our home to help us along the way.

The smaller frame above mom her is a program from Frank Sinatra’s funeral.

Strangely, a week before she died, she stopped using her hearing aids (she was stone deaf … with them) and suddenly could hear all of us. She stopped wearing her “coke bottle” glasses and saw everything perfectly. It was like she was aging in reverse (the opposite of Benjamin Button).

On her final day as we were dressing her for the mortuary, her face looked free of sunspots and wrinkles. She was at rest and looked younger than she had in the last year and certainly better than the so sought after “embalmed” look coming out of plastic surgery offices today. Suddenly I realized that the best anti-aging treatment just may be death.

Only my mom could die looking so “ready for the “close-up” of her life!  She left me a note that said, “Audrey Abides … on her way to eternity!!”

My mom chose going forward!

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