Suddenly Substantive: Does Obama Era Mean No More Blahniks?

doonan 8 Suddenly Substantive: Does Obama Era Mean No More Blahniks?Wake up, girls! This is the dawning of a new era. It’s time to get serious. The age of Obama has no place for superficial broads who spend all day ironing their hair, blowing their credit on status handbags and coveting bunion-mangling shoes.

In the super-earnest, cash-strapped America of today, you can no longer define yourself by a flashy purse or the number of Louboutin porno pumps in your closet. Ding-dong, the Sex and the City female archetype is melting! That post-feminist woman, the gal who thought drinking Cosmos and buying Blahniks made her an empowered and contributing member of society, is now lying in the fetal position in her closet, clutching fistfuls of credit card bills and cringing with embarrassment at her previous excesses.

In order to stay relevant in this brave new world, you must reinvent yourself and develop new interests that take you beyond knowing how to spell and pronounce the words “Balenciaga” and “Lanvin.” It’s time for change! Obama aside, you owe it to the sisters of yore to become a more substantive chick. The suffragettes and hairy-legged gals of the ’70s feminist movement did not throw themselves on the ramparts so that you could live your life like one those blond dingbat shopaholics on The Hills.

Regarding shopping: Chances are you no longer have the shekels to splurge the way you once did. Even if you have the cash, your consumer confidence has taken a nose dive, and you are now, horror of horrors, “shopping in your closet.”

Here’s my advice: Continue shopping outside your closet—maintaining a fierce and meaningful allegiance to, for example, Barneys and Jonathan Adler—but stop yapping about it. Stop braying on about your purchases as if you were doing something meaningful like removing brain tumors or solving the global economy. SHOP BUT DON’T TELL.

And stop allocating all your free time to shopping. You can no longer afford to, and, in Obama-world, you run the risk of being branded an idiot—or, worse still, a Republican holdout.

From now on, your shopping trips will be more like surgical strikes. Snag yourself a personal shopper who can streamline the process. (Do you seriously think Michelle Obama is rummaging through the racks of Isabel Toledo and Narciso Rodriguez herself?) Call Pat Drake at Barneys—she used to be a Rockette!—or email her at pdrake@barneys.com, and she will get you hooked up.

“But how can I possibly fill the hours formerly occupied with shopping?” I hear you shriek with petulant shrillness bordering on abject terror.

The answer is simple: Netflix.

In order to get a clear sense of how New Yorkers spent their leisure time before the arrival of the Shopping Godzilla, you must take a trip down movie memory lane, viewing the cinematic masterpieces from that bygone era.

In Saturday Night Fever—lensed back when the meatpacking district was only known to drug-addled cross-dressers and fisting-club habitués—the cast of funsters is either disco-dancing, working in a paint store, shagging or unconscious: i.e., they are living their lives. We never see Tony actually buying his NikNik shirts. They just are.

In Taxi Driver there is no Pretty Woman–esque shopping montage for De Niro and Jodie Foster. She’s too busy hooking. He’s too busy moping and grinding his teeth.

In Rosemary’s Baby, Mia Farrow is too busy avoiding Beelzebub to waste time at Pea in the Pod. If this movie were to have been remade during the recent shopaholic era, scenes of the haunted protagonista loading up on Liz Lange for Target would doubtless have been added.

In Manhattan or Annie Hall, the brainy Upper West Siders divide their time between reading The New York Times and, yawn, visiting museums.

Call me a philistine, but let’s face it—museums can be very boring. If you are going to fill your spare time by taking this highbrow route, then I would suggest you at least opt for the more niche institutions. Example: During a recent Florida holiday, my Jonny and I bagged our post-Thanksgiving shlep to the Bal Harbor Shops and went instead to the Burt Reynolds Museum—Florida’s Largest Celebrity Museum!—in Jupiter. Though not really on a par with the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, the Reynolds museum, with its endless walls of autographed glossies—look, there’s Dinah Shore! Look, there’s the canoe from Deliverance!—made for an enrichingly cheesy afternoon. And … drumroll … there is a museum store!

Caution: Museums with tantalizing gift shops can defeat the purpose and plonk you right back where you started, in full shopaholic mode. You must resist. You must gird your loins with your newfound gravitas and fight the temptation to buy those Smokey and the Bandit shot glasses.

Deep is the new superficial!

sdoonan@observer.com