On a trip to Boston many years ago, I made sure to go to Filene’s Basement, a world-famous shoppers’ Mecca where generations of perfectly normal women have been known to resort to shoving, hair-pulling and even that silly windmill slapping thing the Real Housewives do when they’re overserved. The goal is to emerge with armfuls of high-quality clothing and accessories for a tiny fraction of their retail price. I saw one aggressive shopper proudly hoist a bargain designer high in the air, like it was a severed head in “Braveheart.”
To be clear, I was not the least bit put off by the possibility of participating in a slugfest over, say, a butter-soft cashmere bath robe, but, as an exceedingly modest Southern woman, I did turn on my heel and walk out when I realized there were no dressing rooms. None. Just a roomful of women of all sizes and ages standing around nearly nekkid like it was no big deal, trying on and casting off, trying on and casting off.
Which is exactly how I feel as the primary season goes into high gear. We’ve tried on and cast aside over and over. It’s a slugfest of Filenian proportions, minus the partial nudity, thanks be to God. Watching the debates (all of them because, duh, I live to serve), has reminded me this could turn into Battle of the Billionaires. Country for sale, drastic reductions in decency, honesty and integrity. Blech.
It’s abundantly clear the Democrats will emerge from the presidential primaries battered, beaten, more divided than ever and without so much as a 90-percent off pair of Louboutins to soothe their collective soul. Like that fateful afternoon in the poorly lit but iconic department store basement, I’ve seen too much. We all have.
So, what to do now? Retreat? Pout because our candidate will not get the nomination? Get on Facebook, just like we did in November 2016 and threaten to move to Canada?
No, no and oh, hell no.
As I tell audiences when I have the occasional speaking gig, you can survive anything if you can just find the funny. Admittedly, when you have a “president” who guts the CDC as a flu pandemic looms and a top official in health and human services who asks TWITTER to help him locate the virus outbreaks (bet he also needs both hands and a flashlight to locate his, well, you know), it’s hard not to just dive into some three-buck-Chuck and cry in a corner but we’re better than that. I hope.
Today, I know it was silly to care whether or not I exposed an eye-popping amount of cellulite to a roomful of strangers. Theoretically speaking, of course. I should’ve kept my eye on the prize.
Which is what we must do now: canvass, register our idiot unregistered friends, drive likeminded voters to the polls…or, as one memorable Boston mom shrieked at her daughter as they shopped Filene’s for a discounted Dior bridal gown: “Get back in there! Don’t give up! Don’t let them win!” Exactly.
Celia Rivenbark of Wilmington, N.C., is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.