As the holidays approach, we aren’t reflecting on the year ending so much as dreading what looms ahead. In the era of #MeToo, it’s pretty clear that Time’s Up and #ForeverTrump also mean #Fun’sOver.
Office parties are fading out, snuffed by managers’ fears that alcohol could prompt sexual misconduct or personal-injury lawsuits.
Cocktails are being watered down, literally—this is the year Hayman’s introduced the low-alcohol Small Gin and Whyte & Mackay launched a half-strength “whiskey.” Party-givers serve herbal “elixirs” instead of champagne. Even milk is no longer deemed sufficiently wholesome. Consumption has decreased so drastically that America’s largest dairy producer, Dean Foods, filed for bankruptcy in November. And the French government was planning to declare a “Dry January,” until President Macron came to his senses and overruled it.
In the era of #MeToo, it’s pretty clear that Time’s Up and #ForeverTrump also mean #Fun’sOver.
As for office romance, that was officially pronounced dead after Steve Easterbrook was fired as C.E.O. of McDonald’s for having a relationship with an employee, even though he was very good at his job and not so bad at home; he was separated from his wife, and the affair was consensual. This might be a good time to remember that when Barack Obama courted Michelle Robinson, she was his assigned mentor at their Chicago law firm.
Katie Hill, a newly elected Democratic congresswoman from California, supplied the coup de grâce: she was forced to resign after allegations that she had affairs with two staffers surfaced—also, nude photos.
Let’s Not Misbehave
Social media has so destroyed privacy that even the most wealthy and privileged cannot hide their misbehavior. Prince Andrew, until recently one of the most rambunctious royals around, withdrew from all official duties after a disastrous BBC interview in which he discussed his friendship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Photographs, and common sense, contradicted his denials.
The Queen didn’t strip him of his title, yet, but she did reportedly cancel his birthday party.
As for office romance, that was officially pronounced dead after Steve Easterbrook was fired as C.E.O. of McDonald’s.
Smoking is forbidden. Even vaping, which for a while seemed like a cleaner, safer, more courteous alternative, turns out to be potentially as dangerous as cigarettes. The pot party is over in Canada, the first major industrial power to allow recreational marijuana nationwide. The Financial Times recently reported that Canada’s inventory of unsold cannabis is 400 tons—a two-and-a-half-year supply—because many consumers turned out to be in no mood to get high. New York City is banning foie gras, and the former mayor who outlawed the sale of jumbo-size soft drinks (think Big Gulps) is now running for president.
Even Kim Kardashian had to rename her line of shapewear (which she called “Solutionwear”) because her chosen brand name, Kimono, was immediately tagged as cultural appropriation of Japanese culture, though it was meant as a clumsy play on her name. The rebuke was all the more bitter because kimonos are in fact a solution to unshapeliness.
Academia was always a bit insular and pompous, but at least college kids could be counted on to let loose and have fun. Now students are all woke and no play: youth’s revolt against unsanctioned free speech has unleashed justifiable paranoia in faculty lounges. The University of Reading installed a panic button in the office of law professor Rosa Freedman after she received death and rape threats for arguing that people could not self-determine their gender identity. Her office door was also splashed with urine—perhaps another way to say gender-fluid.
Adding to the misery, the most horrible people are in power in Washington and Moscow and saying and doing whatever they want. While the rest of us sober up and pipe down, Trump and Putin are having the time of their lives. Both are teetotalers. Putin puts critics in jail while Trump frees convicted criminals. (Boris Johnson, meanwhile, is using Brexit to put all of Britain into solitary confinement.)
There is an antidote. To find it, read on.