May Day was weird again this year. No parades but just a typical Saturday of grocery shopping and yard maintenance. Then a lovely little happy hour on our neighbor friends’ backyard deck. But then a sudden bolt of not entirely surprising but heartbreaking news from an old close friend of his ailing wife’s death. So much death over this pandemic period. Not so much from covid, in our circle, but the grim specter of aging out is stacked on top of the pile-on of horror and frustration over these past 14 months.
In some ways it was alot like a normal weekend again. On Friday night, we went to a backyard party celebrating an old college roommate’s retirement and on Sunday morning, we met and hung out with city friends for brunch at a favorite north side deli. But it ultimately was and remains a first, tentative step back into social gathering after more than a year of social media and virtuality overload. And it came with a body count. We are definitely on the descending side of the proverbial hill but, nevertheless, I have not personally experienced so much loss to death in any comparable slice of life until this period while the pandemic exposed so many social and political and economic weak spots in our society and civilization.
What exactly does it mean when those pseudo-patriots declare that they want the America they grew up in back again? I often like to point out that, for a generation that made such cultural hits out of Animal House and Caddyshack, we have often had a big cynical part in electing the likes of Doug Niedermeyer and Judge Smails to run our country and its states.
But looking back at the results of the three elections in this period — from the primaries, through the crazy national general election, up to the recent local consolidated elections — revealing the rejection of our punditocracy’s bullshit “center-right nation” narrative by the youngest cohort of voters, leads me to a cautious optimism. The more liberal circles of our generation may still be able to work hard enough at goosing our own turnout, precinct by precinct, just enough to provide a kind of buffer as we fade away and die off, leaving a more enlightened generation to its own future. It’s a hell of a way to go down in history.