ALEXANDRA: I think it’s time, Michael.
MICHAEL: Time we recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday? I agree, but how do we do that without it becoming another corporately co-opted excuse to offer discounts on grills or a politician’s mouth service to pulling down confederate statues without effecting any actual policy change or…
ALEXANDRA: No. That’s not what I meant.
MICHAEL: Time to go back home? It DOES feel wrong to sit in this womb of beige carpeting when we SHOULD be in the streets of Brooklyn — fists high, masks on our faces, and milk stashed in our fanny packs to combat the pepper spray of the oppressors. If I order now, I bet I can arrange for a quantity of those super big sharpies to arrive the same day we do. Chinese takeout and placard-making — like we did in the before times. I want to stand with throngs of people and feel the reverberations when I join the choruses of, “Say their names.” I NEED TO BE IN THE STREETS and not just on social media, Alex. All this virtue signaling is even less satisfying than all the footage of that empty Tulsa coliseum.
ALEXANDRA: I’m not ready for throngs of people in any capacity. But I DO think it’s time to go home. People here don’t seem to understand second waves… or even not yet being out of a first wave, for that matter. Maybe people in land-locked states don’t understand waves in general? But no, that’s not what I meant either.
MICHAEL: Time for what then? To renew our membership to the Natural History Museum since they’re finally removing that statue of Teddy? To once and for all cancel our New York Times subscription? To finally get a TikTok account so we can respond to Sarah Cooper’s videos the second they’re published?
ALEXANDRA: It’s time to shave, Michael.
MICHAEL: No razor shall touch this face until bright lights and character shoes again touch the boards of Broadway.
ALEXANDRA: And said face shall not touch this garden of delights again until a razor touches said face. Some parts of the human anatomy do not need exfoliating, Michael. I’m not saying the beard has to go, but would you at least consider scaling it back to a pre-pandemic level?
MICHAEL: This is a political and artistic statement, Alex — a visual representation of time passing when time has no meaning anymore.
ALEXANDRA: You could achieve the same visual representation with a dozen Brillo pads hot glued to your face mask. At least then you wouldn’t still smell like your Bubbe’s herring in cream sauce three days later.
MICHAEL: That aroma is intentional. It’s a metaphor representing the fishiness of the sudden replacement of SDNY Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
ALEXANDRA: Your “metaphor” would have more impact if you didn’t have a rivulet of ranch dressing hanging off of the side there, Hagrid.
MICHAEL: Are we still making Harry Potter references now that JK has been canceled?
ALEXANDRA: She is undoubtedly a TERF, but then Radcliffe, Watson, and even… um… the Redhaired Guy eventually, all denounced her statements, right? So, I guess if our references are from the movies instead of the books we’re ok? Honestly, I am so lost on anything cultural right now. I mean… the Left gets NASCAR and the Right gets Bryan Adams? Who saw THAT coming?
MICHAEL: Murder hornets and coke boars, probably. Remember when 2016 seemed merely hopeless and upside down? All our fears about 45 and his term were just theoretical? Remember that level of outrage fatigue and fear that seemed so unsustainable in 2017? Oh young, sweet, naïve, daintily-pored, me-three-years-ago, hold onto that feeling. 2020 is going to pummel you mercilessly with nonsense like Paul Rand to an anti-lynching bill.
ALEXANDRA: OK. Gratitude journal moment. My therapist told me to try this on our last telehealth appointment. Let’s list positives: Tik Tok is an instrument for good. You don’t have to be embarrassed about your deep and unironic love for K-Pop. SCOTUS had a surprisingly decent week. Scotland is no longer providing the police with tear gas. William Barr’s attempt to hobble NY’s investigations into 45 turned out to just be a bunch of noise. And the best? Once you lose “The Letterman” and we’re back home and out of range of Bubbe’s high-sensitivity hearing aids, we, too, can make all the noises you want.
MICHAEL: I can’t shave it now, Alex. The virus hasn’t gone anywhere. What would be the point if I shaved it off now? I have to go the distance, Alex. My beard must be an instrument of good. My beard needs to make up for those not living up to the responsibility that comes with having epic facial hair. How do you think Michael Bolton’s mustache feels right now knowing that it should have been brushing against a microphone in front of the House Intelligence Committee five months ago instead of dictating another chapter to his ghostwriter?
ALEXANDRA: You can still do good with that beard, Michael! You could scatter it around the base of a tree for birds to use in their nest making. You could use it as supplemental stuffing for the cat toys you’ve been making with your homegrown catnip. You could donate it to freaking Merkins of Love for all I care JUST GET IT OFF OF YOUR FACE.
MICHAEL: That’s exactly what the guy in line behind me at the grocery store said about my mask.
ALEXANDRA: If Americans insist on politicizing mask-wearing, I suppose politicizing your face pelt isn’t that much of a stretch. Let’s go home, Michael. I miss people yelling at me just for the sake of yelling at me, regardless of political affiliation.
MICHAEL: I miss home, too. Now I guess we just have to work out if we fly or drive.
ALEXANDRA: That beard counts as at least seven carry-ons. Driving is our only option if you won’t shave.