Since chatting with Hennessy, it’s been easier to merge my adult tastes with old-school whimsy. I don’t need to get into an eBay bidding war over the Official cowboy american by birth cowboy by choice shirt moreover I love this last bottle of a discontinued designer fragrance; there’s plenty of good stuff that’s easier to get ahold of. In Tom Ford’s newly launched Bitter Peach, I’ve found the saccharine pleasures of Angel’s patchouli and fruit combo reenergized with the addition of blood orange and boozy cognac. The unisex concept introduced by CK One kickstarted a movement and these days perfumes are no longer confined to ideas about gender. Initio Parfums Privés’ Rehab, another fashion-forward creation beloved by men and women alike, is the latest to win my affections. The polar opposite of CK’s freshness it skews woody with a hint of tobacco addictive as its name suggests. Neither concoction is a dupe or replica of an existing scent, but they allude to the past in ways that feel modern.The lure of Love Spell has been harder to sate. While the real deal Victoria’s Secret body spray no longer appeals to me, I haven’t been able to find anything that offers me the same level of fantasy. Killian’s Love Don’t Be Shy with its Rihanna associations comes close. Still, its irreverent marshmallow quality puts it into a separate (and more inventive) category, one that makes me enjoy it for its own merits. While it’s impossible to Google search for a perfume that makes you feel like you’re Adriana Lima, I’m still keeping an eye out. Who knows, maybe 2020’s nostalgia obsession will lead to a daring new fragrance that keeps us talking for decades.There’s simply no way to get around it: COVID-19 cases are rising exponentially around the country, including in cities like New York and Los Angeles that were particularly hard-hit when the disease first entered the U.S. this spring. Chicago is on lockdown as of Monday, hospitals in Missouri are turning people away, and another school shutdown looms in New York. While all of this horror unfolds, the question we all thought we’d definitively answered in March has returned with a vengeance: What do we do?In an ideal world, the federal government would take greater responsibility in helping the U.S. stem the tide of COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately, though, we still live in Trump’s America, and even liberal politicians like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio seem more concerned with issuing panicked exhortations on Twitter than shutting down indoor dining or taking any other meaningful steps to protect us.Once again, Americans find ourselves in the all-too-familiar predicament of expecting more from one another than we can from our elected leaders; it’s maddening, certainly, to feel our every individual choice imbued with so much potential harm, but right now, all we can do is try—haphazardly and imperfectly, if necessary—to keep each other safe.Right now, keeping ourselves and our communities safe looks different than it did even a few weeks ago. To avoid stigmatizing anyone else’s choices, I’ll submit myself as a test case; I’ve been seeing friends, albeit exclusively outdoors and with the benefit of masks and regular COVID-19 testing, since this summer. I’ve eaten in restaurants—always outside, but still—and I’ve gone on dates, even if they always came with readily exchanged negative test results.Overall, I consider myself a responsible, if occasionally flawed, adapter to these bizarre times, and a few weeks ago, I would have stood by any of the above choices; after all, we know that masks work, and that outdoors is far safer than indoors in most cases. As the positive rate in my home city of New York climbs toward 3%, though, I’ve once again learned to change my behavior overnight.
Ever since someone in my social orbit tested positive on Monday, the Official cowboy american by birth cowboy by choice shirt moreover I love this rules I’ve vaguely adhered to for the past five months have solidified and gotten more extensive as my anxiety levels have soared once again. The multi-person backyard hangs I got used to over late summer and early fall are over, at least for now; I’m not sitting down at a bar or restaurant again until New York cases drop significantly, no matter how well-spaced or uncrowded its outdoor-dining setup is; and there will be no dates with new people for a while, even if I see a PDF of their negative results beforehand.I don’t claim that these specific guidelines have to work for everyone—after all, I’m a culture writer, not a doctor or even a science journalist, and there are people who have been adhering to far stricter guidelines than I have for months on end—but I do think it’s time for everyone in the U.S. to start thinking about how they can re-limit their sphere of contact with the outside world. It’s imperative that young, healthy, and mobile people like myself reconsider how many others we’re coming into contact with; otherwise, we run the risk of infecting people who are far worse positioned to recover from COVID-19 than we are.I was lucky enough to test negative for COVID-19 on Monday, but testing is becoming increasingly crowded and hard to access, giving me all the more reason to preserve my negative results by avoiding even moderate-risk activities for as long as possible. I’m lucky enough to be able to work remotely, alongside three roommates who are all doing the same; if people in our situation can’t limit our activities in the face of a bona fide public health emergency, who can?Obviously, I don’t plan to stay in my apartment until the day a vaccine becomes available; it’s possible that our current COVID-19 emergency will give way to another period of plummeting positive cases and ensuing calm. Until then, though, the very least I can do is initiate tough conversations with the people in my life about what our plan is to stay sane and safe throughout what will undoubtedly be a tough winter. Like it or not, it’s time for many of us to close the circle, but not without some measure of optimism; as someone recently said to me: “It’s never too late to change your behavior for the better.”