It's been more than a week since Sandy hit the New York area, and with an intervening election and, now, snow on the ground, to some it may be a faded memory, enough so that we can start talking about how hilarious and interesting it all was, the funny things it made us do, the compromises we had to make, and how much weight we gained from the whole event. It is, in fewer words, just angling to be the topic of a New York Times trend piece—something in the Style section, something that sheds light on who we are and how we live in this particular time and place.
We get not one but several of these this Thursday. They are not the first, of course, but they are perhaps the most, all in one place, since Sandy. What are they? Election night parties were trendily toned down in the hurricane's aftermath (only reasonable, considering that some still don't have power). People were stressed! Elsewhere, there's a slideshow showing how some New Yorkers "weathered the days following the storm." These are a far cry from the devastation-capturing photos of earlier days that appeared elsewhere in the paper and instead show people dining out, at bars, running hair salons from home, and such. "Despite the storm’s devastation, guilt and piety were in short supply," is one caption. Then there's a lengthy piece on how any number of pretty well-off New Yorkers managed to get through the storm—losing power but managing, still, to connect. In one case, that meant flushing a toilet with white Zinfandel.
“Hate white Zin,” said Ms. Hunter, whose husband, Jeffrey, a lawyer, supported her choice. “It was the first to go and was an easy decision. But we had other things in the liquor cabinet that we were considering, some crème de menthe, some hazelnut liqueur. Never would have let the cabernet go down.”
In another, that was managing various displaced houseguests' requirements ("Meanwhile, the childless couple that got here first said they didn’t want any young kids to stay, so they beat out my friend with the toddler who is in the East Village”). Or, dealing with one's control freak side when there are people staying over: “When they all arrived, I said something like, ‘I’m so excited you’re here, but could you take your shoes off?'... And then they’re eating, and there’s crumbs.” Or perhaps noting the changing demographic makeup of one's New York City, as reflected at The Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side. We are all cultural anthropologists, after all:
“We saw Anna Wintour, Kelly Ripa, all these people wearing black, people with spiked hair,” Mr. Tito said. “You could tell that something unique was happening, like the Upper East Side was the new downtown.”
The ironic pièce de résistance, however, comes from Alex Williams, about how the storm made people fat. No longer must we contend only with the freshman 15, but if hurricanes and "superstorms" are to be a new climate-changed way of life in our city, we're all going to be fighting the "Sandy Five." Oh dear. It's all great, crunching and slurping our way through the pitch black day and night, until the power goes back on and we realize, "after a week of Chips Ahoy!-foraging and stress-bingeing in darkened apartments," that our $300 jeans don't fit.
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Said one 31-year-old of her storm prep: "I went through Duane Reade and was grabbing Double Stuf Oreos, whole milk, Twix, Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids,” she recalled in horror. And now ... HER JEANS DO NOT BUTTON.
In some fairness, Williams has a disclaimer: "A tightening of the waistband hardly counts as a crisis in a region where so many have endured actual devastation." Nonetheless, pounds were added, and psychologies and emotions bent under the additional weight. This must be written about, for catharsis if nothing else, and written about it was. We eat for comfort, sometimes, you guys. Fries. Peanut butter. "Cheap Chinese, bad pizza." It happened, this eating and drinking like there was no tomorrow, eating again, because who's going to locate the aluminum foil in the bottom of one's cabinet to store that extra pizza in the dark? Living in the moment, at the same time that we stockpiled and hoarded, and then, when the power went out, eating everything so it wouldn't go bad. Doing the truly unimaginable: "Times Square, with its teeming chain restaurants, suddenly looked as intoxicating as Montparnasse to beleaguered residents of Chelsea and SoHo, so on forays there, they partied with End of Days abandon." Said one who suffered the dreaded Five, “I’ve never been so grateful for my jeggings."
So, is all this too soon, or should we simply laugh at this attempted return to "normal" by way of the Thursday Style section? They have to write about something, and we all process things a little bit differently—we all, too, have different experiences. If you gained weight in Sandy, these are your tales. Never forget the Five! At the same time, there are trend tales still left unturned. What of the perseverance of that particular pair of jeggings in a hurricane? Can we discuss the unconditional love of one's third-floor apartment, understood through a week of never departing, and the strange secret resentment that arises despite that? I'm eager to hear tell of how one family managed to make bubble-free perfectly square cubes of ice with purified water for their artisanal mint-lemonade despite the storm and no working refrigerator—or which Day-Glo poncho is the most fashion-forward. Surely there are others. Hurricane be damned, we have trends.