Goodbye, Normal Jeans

Throwing out all the little souvenirs of a terrible year

We will not do it. We refuse to become the Substack stereotype of the guys who rant about Twitter all the time. We will not look for too much meaning in the story of that lady who tweeted to the world her intention to fly across the country and surprise some guy with a heretofore unstated declaration of true love in an open bid for viral attention. We will not make spurious and facile connections between sad attempts at viral fame just as we’re seeing the end of a viral pandemic. We won’t. We promises, Precious. But oh Jesus, we just can’t keep our mouths shut about this one. We don’t want to join the mob of people who’ve come down on this woman like a ton of bricks for being perhaps a bit too open about her attention-seeking, but we do think she’s probably the vanguard of a season of pure weirdness to come.

We already ranted about social media once in this newsletter and the law says we get three more chances to do so this calendar year before they revoke our First Amendment rights, but we’ll just note two things about this sad little tale. The first is that this story wouldn’t have become so discussed if people hadn’t so readily given this woman the attention she was seeking. In other words, it’s less about her and way more about the ecosystem that encourages the kind of behavior she exhibited. The second thing to note about this story is that we should probably get used to a very horny summer full of people acting in very horny and subsequently ill-advised ways. As always, we must look to the stars for guidance. And by that we mean celebrities.

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were photographed all smiles on a recent morning together, with the implication being that they had spent the night together. The world swooned. Ben was also photographed wearing a watch that J Lo gave him back on their first try at a relationship. The press went into feverish mode. This is both very horny of the two of them, but also very cynical in a way that we can only admire, albeit somewhat begrudgingly. J Lo is an absolute master of knowing exactly what the moment is calling for and then delivering it. She knows people want a big, splashy, possibly messy celebrity pairing right now. Director Taika Waititi and his girlfriend Rita Ora were photographed apparently making out with actress Tessa Thompson, prompting much speculation that we were seeing the first openly polyamorous celebrity grouping. We don’t know about that, but we do know it was the horniest celebrity display we’ve seen since the days when celebrity gossip blogs were all the rage. The stars can sniff out what direction the cultural winds are blowing. That’s how they remain stars, after all. Look at Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox serving pure horny tacky celebrity action on the Billboard Music Awards red carpet, shamelessly carrying on like it was 2006 or something. They know what they’re doing. And you know? We’re here for it. We’re ready for a summer of weird behavior and awkward displays. We’ve earned it, haven’t we? Besides, we’d rather see celebrities acting like fools in public than earnestly singing over-rated John Lennon songs into their phones in a bid for self-importance. Isn’t it time to put all that weepy lockdown culture behind us and just get freaky a little bit?

The White House announced today that 50% of American adults are fully vaccinated against Covid. There was a time when we told each other that would be our Rubicon; our indication that it was okay to remove our masks in public settings, under certain conditions. That would be the moment when we could truly feel like our long lockdown was finally in the rear view mirror. We actually passed that point a couple of weeks back when we committed to hair and beard appointments and grocery shopping again. Still, it feels momentous in a way that’s probably a bit arbitrary on our parts. Covid’s never going to be gone, but it finally feels like we’re collectively walking away from Covid culture.

Remember when we were all trying to grow celery at home or coaxing our sourdough starters to rise? Remember clapping at twilight for healthcare workers? Remember when you couldn’t get Lysol wipes and you had to use off-brand toilet paper? Remember Alison Roman getting cancelled for dissing Chrissy Teigen and then Chrissy Teigen cancelling herself and then Chrissy Teigen came back only to get canceled? Are we all going to feel weird when we reminisce about the things that made us weepy during this time? The feel-good videos? The overly serious “In These Uncertain Times” advertisements? Remember all of those Zoom reunions of Broadway casts and sitcom casts? The outrage-generating videos of retail workers being harassed? Central Park Karen? All of the other Karens? Animal Crossing? Tiger King? When you read all of that, don’t you just want to throw it in the trash and move on from all of it?

When you think about it, we’ve all been getting increasingly weird for a really long time as we walled ourselves off from each other and became obsessed with oddities and trivialities. When you consider there was also an epic and highly divisive presidential campaign going on during this time of mass death, not to mention the rise of the largest and longest sustained civil rights demonstration in the country’s history as Black Lives Matters marches sprung up all over the country, it’s probably not too much of a surprise that our collective attention, when it wasn’t consumed with matters of world importance or literal life and death, focused on some of the dumbest shit we could find. Now that the doors are open and the masks are coming off, there’s going to be such a tsunami of oddness in the months to come and honestly, we embrace every bit of it. Let’s dress weird. Let’s put on clown clothes or be inappropriately sexy. Let’s all have that Studio 54 moment we all deserve. Imbibe if you can. Indulge if you want to. We all waited for a return to normalcy and now it feels like none of us are quite ready to be completely normal yet. Minimum wage workers don’t want to return to minimum wage jobs, white collar employees don’t want to return to the office full-time, and parents want to see serious structural changes in school and daycare. The quest for racial justice and for a safe world for the disenfranchised continues at what feels like a quickened pace. Is there real change coming? We don’t know about that, but we think it’ll be a long time before anyone feels truly normal again.

[Photo credit: Monika Kozub]