Returned Monday after spending a long weekend in Florida as part of my now annual tradition of attending the Patriots game in Miami with my girlfriend (who happens to be a Dolphins fan). This year was much different than the others. There was an undercurrent of sadness and anger pervading the entire trip.
I get it we are in a pandemic. But the feelings of sadness and anger were palpable.
My girlfriend and I also took a trip to Florida in June and it was much different. Everyone getting off an inbound flight was wearing a mask then but nobody else in the airport was. This time around everyone was wearing a mask. To not have a mask on in the airport was verboten. Outside the airport it was a little better.
Our first night there we actually saw a live band for the first time in months. It was a Motown review at the Tin Roof in Del Ray and we were allowed to actually dance to the music! It was glorious. Little did we know that would be the only band we'd see the entire trip. Other places would have a single guy on guitar but no bands (the Elbow Room in Fort Lauderdale had two guys on guitars). There was something seriously off.
Of the people on the street - 80-90% weren't wearing a mask but everyone had one for when they entered an establishment. Even with the cops it was 50/50 whether they'd be wearing masks. But the choices of what places to go to was lessened because many places were closed (many I fear for good). And the crowds that would make this trip so festive just weren't there. Seating for the Patriots game was limited to 20% capacity and with no tickets to be had thousands just stayed home. And with no crowds there's no tourist cash and the cycle turns vicious.
Normally the bars in Fort Lauderdale by the Sea have the air of a Patriots rally for this game with the street outside the Village Grill / Pump House bar shut down to make room for one live band after another. This year nothing. It was dead. Same was true in Fort Lauderdale and in Hollywood Beach.
At the game there was no tailgating and you had to wear your mask at all times. It was worse than the airport. There was an assigned usher whose sole job was to be the mask police. I spent most of the game on the lookout for the guy just so I could enjoy an occasional airgasm. I'll never attend another game where mask wearing is mandatory. It's just not worth it.
The airline attendant on the Delta flight home was even worse than the usher at Hard Rock Stadium. She seemed actually looking for a confrontation with anyone who would not meekly comply with mask conformity. But you had to grit your teeth (under your mask) and quietly seethe.
Which brings me back to sadness and anger. There's only so much we can collectively take. I fear we are quickly reaching the point of many becoming the Michael Douglas character in the movie Falling Down. There's a reckoning coming fueled by a river of underlying sadness and anger in this country. You can feel it coming.
I fear we have made the cure far worse than the disease.