On a Zoom call recently, a friend mourned having missed out on how "AWESOME!” life was in 2019. I’m willing to bet he didn’t think so at the time nor did any of us. The failed real estate developer was still in the Oval Office as daily bad news cascaded from every direction. Will we one day also look back at the idyllic early days of Omicron and think, now that’s when life was really easy?
We’d better hope not.
I can hear ’em now: Remember how chill and wonderful everything was during the lockdown? We could hear the birds sing - between the sirens and helicopters - and gas was really cheap. You could even ride the buses for free.
The same yahoos who were whining about not being able to get haircuts or drink Budweiser and watch the game at the bar are also generally the loudest mouths droning on about how great everything was during the lockdown. And how they thrived because they’d always been so incredibly self-sufficient and had immune systems so robust that they were able to scoff at those snowflakes who insisted on wearing masks everywhere.
These people are next of kin to friends I have here in the city who rhapsodize about how “real” New York was back in the day. The poster child for this kind of thinking was my old friend, Peter (may he rest in peace), who insisted that anyone not in New York City during the 80s had missed the glory days. Anyone who came to New York City after 1990 may as well just move to Phoenix.
Why are we often so determined to paint the past in glowing colors especially if the actual colors of that time were mostly drab grays shot through with streaks of misery?
Legends in our own minds
We live our own superhero stories and are adept at bending remembrance of actual events to fit that narrative. Everyone, not just those of us who are annoying know-it-alls. We’re just louder than the rest of the crowd and certainly more fun to be around.
The kissing cousin to recounting the Good Old Days is a solid round or two of One Upsmanship and boy is this ever the city for that game.
There are actually several great ways to start this game but the mother of them all is this: What were you doing on 9/11? And woe to the poor “newcomer” who wasn’t in the city for that event. It’s cast as a moral failing and that poor schlub doesn’t get to play.
Other good ways to stir the pot include:
- What’s the worst job you’ve had in the city?
- What was your longest commute?
- What’s the most horrendous thing you’ve seen on the subway?
- Where were you during the blackout (take your pick of which one)?
This list could go on for days but you get the picture. “We got to experience the last great days of this city, everything now sucks, you missed it all and, btw, here’s how bad we had it, you softies.”
This is our Golden Age; enjoy it now because it's going away fast
It might sound crazy to say that, but then again it certainly would have sounded nuts to have said anything like that back in February 2020 when we could freely go anywhere we pleased, hug our friends, shop til we dropped, earn a living, and jam ourselves into crowded bars. But here we are feeling all wistful about not having recognized how good we had it during the last Great Golden Age.
Pay attention. There are things you’re getting to experience right now that will never happen again.
Whatever your current reality, it’s your Golden Age. Feel free to write about it (which is guaranteed to be more interesting than yet another piece about how to make money online), but for God’s sake, now that we're finally able to go to the diner together again, let's find something else to talk about.
We may really want to talk about how great things were in <insert whatever time period floats your boat these days>, but let’s be good friends and talk about the weather, k?
Oh, wait. Scratch that.