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The Shipwreck Rose: A Graveyard Smash

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 18:47

I’m the proud owner of a Peloton interactive exercise bicycle — the “bike that goes nowhere.” No, that’s wrong: I’m the embarrassed owner of a Peloton interactive exercise bicycle. You’ve seen the controversial commercial, in which a young husband gifts his tearfully simpering wife with a Peloton, and she transforms herself from fit and gorgeous to fit and gorgeous?

The median income among Peloton owners is in the high six figures, if the marketing is to be believed. The purchase of one — and the cost of the monthly fees — is a luxury bordering on the inexcusable in these times of trouble. I myself have rarely mounted my Peloton since the pandemic began. This is maybe because I am never alone in the house anymore, but always being followed from room to room by one or the other of my children, asking me to buy them baggy mom jeans or weapons to kill snowmen in Fortnite. Or it may be because with all the stress of these last many weeks — earning a living, home schooling, and trying to run a makeshift backyard summer camp — I feel I deserve a treat and a break, and the most appealing treat and break is not Pelotoning to a soundtrack of 1990s boy bands but lying on the couch watching “Poldark.”

As my Peloton — which tracks your riding habits, and offers this information to Peloton “friends” — is aware, I have not been exercising lately, but I do still follow the mom drama on a Facebook page called the Official Peloton Mom Group. If the posts on this Facebook page reflect reality, the average Peloton Mom lives in an eight-bedroom, newly built mansion and pilots her toddlers in a Cadillac Escalade or Volvo XC90. The talk on Official Peloton Moms is not typically about Pelotons, or exercising, but about What Other Peloton Moms Would Do: Would they paint the front door in Farrow & Ball Pitch Black or Benjamin Moore Gravel Grey? Would they name their goldendoodle Otis or Gus? Should their new baby be christened Eloise, Eleanor, Emery, Avery, or Everly? Which exfoliator, face oil, self-tanner, or flip-flop is the ultimate best? (That would be: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, Sunday Riley’s Juno Antioxidant formula, Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold, and OluKai Ohanas, according to them.)

It’s a carnival of carefree consumerism, uninterrupted and unperturbed by the greatest economic contraction in the nation’s history. The Official Peloton Mom Group, which has more than 56,600 members, is also the best trend-forecasting space in America. It would be a focus-group goldmine. Peloton Moms are always a few months ahead on the mass-consumer trends; it’s where I first heard about that Army-green Orolay “thickened” winter coat that became a best seller on Amazon, and the Pura Wi-Fi-enabled home scenting system (eww?), which, naturally, is not at all my style. None of this is at all my style, but as an ex-Vogue editor, I still want to know.

And so it was with horror that, a week ago, I noticed an ominous question popping up repeatedly on the Peloton Moms page: “Is Halloween canceled?” The Peloton Moms — and their homeowners associations — are worried that Covid-19 will make Halloween too dangerous.

I have an answer for that one, Peloton Moms: No!

As reported in an article in Atlantic Monthly (“Hygiene Theater Is a Huge Waste of Time”), the scientific consensus is now that Covid-19 is almost never, if ever, transmitted by touch, or by touching surfaces. The danger zone is indoors. Halloween happens outdoors, and you most definitely can wear a mask while trick-or-treating. Your kids almost certainly aren’t going to catch Covid by grabbing mini Hershey bars from neighbors wearing pointy hats. Make them wash their hands at the end of the night, before they gorge on the candy — and afterward, too, I guess, since they will be sticky. Don’t throw any indoor parties where guests scream with laughter as they pass apples from mouth to mouth, and Halloween is good to go.

Indeed, being a lifelong booster of Halloween in its more classic forms — more mischief, more pranks, possibly even toilet paper, and fewer adults sporting Sexy Supreme Court Judge and Sexy Pizza Rat costumes — I am optimistic that this Halloween can be better than it’s been in decades. For one thing, the pandemic might scatter everyone away from the throng-magnet of the business district — who ever said going from shop to shop was real trick-or-treating in the first place? — and back into the quiet . . . eerie, creepy . . . residential streets of East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and Amagansett villages. Furthermore, we are told that a lot of the family homes that had been sold in the 1990s to weekenders are going to be occupied for the school year. Lights will shine again in the windows, beckoning young miscreants onward, and ghouls might once again prowl the dark of Dayton Lane.


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