Meanwhile her little sister, Jamie Lynn, is currently being chastised by the press for apparently saying “Oh, fuck it” to condoms. The 16-year-old star of Zoey 101, the No. 1 series among American viewers aged 9 to 14, recently announced that she is pregnant by her 19-year-old boyfriend, Casey Aldridge. Singer Christina Aguilera and actress Jessica Alba are both unexpectedly expecting, which would not have been considered a good career move for a young star a decade ago. (Meanwhile actress Keri Russell, who uses an organic sling to lug around her 7-month old son, River, recently confessed to Newsweek: “I would love to do the cloth diapers, but I can’t cut it. I’m ruining the Earth with my diapers. I’m sorry.” Classic environmental “oh, fuck it”-ness, along with buying a toy that bears the label Made in China.)
This new shrugging motherhood was foreshadowed on the big screen in Knocked Up, one of the top-grossing films of 2007, in which Katherine Heigl’s character tells a guy she met in a bar, played by Seth Rogen, to “just do it” while he was fumbling with a condom. He misinterprets that as “Oh, fuck the condom!” and a one-night stand turns into pregnancy. Juno, the quirky comedic darling of current theatergoers, is also an example of two young’uns just saying no to Trojan.
And pop culture isn’t the only evidence of the new nonchalance toward the condom. Too young to remember the horror of the initial AIDS epidemic, and perhaps exasperated by the Bush administration’s substitution of “abstinence teaching” for sex education, the most recent New York City Health Department report finds that H.I.V. infection is on the rise among young gay men, with new diagnoses doubling among 13-to-19-year-olds since 2001. “Nobody wants to hear about H.I.V., AIDS, STDs,” wrote a contributor to the June issue of the ’zine Speedometer. “We are naked. We don’t give a shit. Fuck it. Let’s get our groove on. People think, I’m going to have sex, okay, fuck a condom. Everybody’s dying. This is one big going-away party, so let’s party.”
More benignly, “oh, fuck it” moments can be simple occasions of personal weakness in a city aglow with the ruddy, self-satisfied look of conspicuous consumption: little indulgences for those living paycheck to measly paycheck and digging change out from their couches to buy lunch at Chipotle while their bosses fill up at BLT Steak.
It’s buying a bouquet of flowers just to make yourself feel better about not having your own Zen garden. It’s picking up a book at Barnes & Noble because you’re too lazy to go to the library. (Variation: because you just don’t have the energy to seek out some precious indie bookstore! Also applicable to Starbucks coffee). It’s maxing out your credit card on a fancy face cream after a stressful week at work. It’s getting the damn iPhone even though you just know it’s going to have bugs and break down in a year (like the iPod before it)! And it costs $400 plus $70 month, and you can’t get unlimited minutes—just because, oh, fuck it, you want it.
On Friday, Dec. 28, at the shoe department in Bergdorf Goodman, Angelica Diaz, 32, an angelic-looking brunette with an ivory complexion, was weaving through the throngs of post-Christmas shoppers picking at the 30-percent-off sale racks, proceeding straight into the full-price showroom stuffed with sky-high Manolo Blahniks and Chanel flats. She tried on a pair of bubble-gum pink, patent leather Chloé heels priced at $595.
“It’s just a gift I give myself,” said Ms. Diaz, who next asked for Jimmy Choo Cheetah print heels with a pointed toe ($520). “I’ve done all this shopping for other people, just ogling at all of the nice things I’m getting them,” she said of her holiday experience. And now, “all I want is something for myself.”
In the Bergdorf basement, where the $260 Prada perfume sets were filling the air with the heady scent of musk, Sherie, 24, and her fluffy Pomeranian pup, Donna (named after the disco queen, Ms. Summer), were contemplating a pair of fake eyelashes to buy for a New Years’ Eve masquerade party. “It’s frivolous but you tell yourself you deserve it,” she said. “I think, my uncle has a Hummer, my brother has like two other condos besides his house in Jersey. … Maybe I’m not as rich as them yet, but I can have a $200 bottle of perfume, O.K.?” (She was wearing oversize gray sweatpants and tan Uggs; basically an “oh, fuck it” to fashion.)
It’s sad, in a way, that retail therapy is what passes for rebellion these days, in a city that gave birth to hip-hop and punk, the Harlem Renaissance and Abstract Expressionism.
But in this modern, much more buttoned-up, Disneyfied environment, it’s not surprsing these small ways of saying “oh, fuck it” feel like a form of freedom.
“The thing is, you’re only one person,” said Ms. Grace, back at Trader Joe’s. “I needed to realize that I’m only one person, and maybe I can’t save the icebergs all by myself because I recycle or whatever.” And after she said “oh, fuck it? “It was like I could breathe again.”