Goodbye Flop Summer

I think I've seen enough.

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broken promises

This was supposed to be our summer. After a year and a half of horrifying death tolls, ever-changing lockdown measures, Zoom awards shows, and magazine covers about how sweatpants are bae, we were finally supposed to return to some semblance of normal life. We were vaccinated, we had cut out the toxic people in our lives, and we were ready to party at 75 percent capacity. Biden was President, and pop-punk was back.

And yet the spirit of the last four months has felt less “Age of Aquarius” and more “Bridget Jones showing up in a Playboy bunny costume to a decidedly not Tarts and Vicars-themed garden party.”

Yes, the Delta variant and the (God help me) “gay cold” threw a wrench in many people’s summer plans. But it was more than that. Reunions with people I hadn’t seen in months were more pensive than joyful. Conversations felt forced — dare I say awkward. Everyone had (understandably) developed their own unique neuroses over the past 18 months, and it was hard to keep up. In internet parlance, the “vibes” were “off.” Why can’t everyone just be normal, I thought, chomping down on my seventh Nicorette gum of the day while watching Nicole Kidman attempt a Russian accent.

I found myself contemplating last summer, when just a glimmer of hope after a punishing spring was enough to keep us going. Any crumb of normalcy, whether it was a picnic birthday party or a watered-down Aperol spritz served on a wobbly plastic table in the middle of the street, felt like a win. A year later, we were stuck in an uncanny valley of 2019-era social life — just close enough to the real thing to remind us that it was decidedly not. Overburdened with our collective expectations, every day was the worst New Year’s Eve ever. Nothing felt right, and everything was pissing me off!

You might be asking: Are you really nostalgic for a time when Trump was President and more people were in danger? Well that’s not really what this is about, idiot, and might I recommend engaging in a piece of online content in good faith instead of trying to cancel me for the crime of radical vulnerability.

I’m sorry I lashed out. Am I being weird? I feel like I’m being weird.

“Maybe Halloween will be good,” I said absentmindedly to a friend recently — one of the most disturbing thoughts I have ever verbalized. But who knows — maybe it will. At least it’s something to look forward to. I just hope I’m not the only one in costume at the party.