Chapter 139: COVID Chronicles

December 14, 2020

By Karen

Day 275

South Dakota Can Suck It & So Can Salt Lake City

South Dakota has been running absurd tourism promos featuring Mount Rushmore (surprisingly, WITHOUT Trump’s face superimposed on it), with carefree vacationers exploring the state’s vast wilderness with nary a mask in sight. The taglines are: When you’re ready to travel. Great places are waiting. Explore them responsibly.

First of all, with 41% testing positive and roughly 11% of the state’s population infected with COVID (as of today), it’s a stretch to call South Dakota a “great place.” Unless your perfect vacation involves sickness and death.

And with Governor Kristi Noem one of Trump’s biggest fangirls who mocks Biden’s efforts to control the spread and does NOTHING to protect her constituents, you have to laugh off their advice to “explore responsibly.”

Here’s the South Dakota Coronavirus Map and Case Count from The New York Times.

While I’m in that part of the country, Bravo recently expanded the Real Housewives franchise into Salt Lake City, so I had to check it out…

It confirmed my suspicion that the concept is decaying. Aspiring housewives have been watching the show and get cast thinking they have certain expectations to fulfill. Apparently influenced by the Mormon belief that perfection is attainable, this Salt Lake City bunch succeeded in jumping the shark right out of the gate. (Mixed metaphor?)

First, there’s the inescapable Mormon thing. Some of them embrace it, some reject it, some feel conflicted. If you like your housewives ruminating on a cultish religion that’s heavy on secret rites and has a sketchy backstory, this is your franchise.

For example, Mary is married to her step-grandfather. Yes, you read that right. Jen converted to Islam, and she blows great gobs of money, spitefully, just because she can, so ostentatiously, she makes the New Jersey housewives’ Italian gaudiness seem the epitome of understated elegance.

At the other end of the spectrum, two of the SLC housewives (Lisa and Meredith) are virtually personality-free and indistinguishable from each other.

These women behave badly at parties, wear dresses without underwear, swear like longshoremen, and get crazy-drunk (I think I may be remembering only Jen scenes here — she reminds me of early Danielle Staub, but less classy). It’s as if they’re on a mission to disgrace and offend every Mormon in Utah.

From the first episode, most of them already hated each other and jumped straight from introductions to catfights.

I tried to give any of them a fair chance grow on me by watching three episodes, but it never got better and I dropped it. It won’t surprise me if there’s so much righteous indignation in Salt Lake City that this dog of a show gets put down after one season.

So, I bid a not-so-fond farewell to Utah, another place you’ll never catch me visiting. I’ll just stick with my battle-tested, well-seasoned housewives from New York and New Jersey, thank you.

Now that I’m back on the East Coast, I’ve been binging Maine Cabin Masters.

Who knew the Maine woods are oozing “camps,” as their owners call them, usually beside gorgeous lakes? The Cabin Masters are Chase (foreman/architect, center), his sister Ashley (interior/exterior designer), her husband Ryan (muscle/brain, 2nd from right) and the crew.

I love them because they remind me of the relatives I had growing up in Massachusetts. If living in Ohio hadn’t taught me to pronounce “R’s,” I’d probably talk like them to this day. (I’ve been resisting a Southern drawl for 47 years now and counting.)

Anyway, the gang renovates these extremely rickety, nasty camps into lovely, functioning homes, some with even two bathrooms. The décor is heavy on paneled walls and ceilings to retain that camp feel, but always cozy and charming.

In my evenings, rather than upset myself watching MSNBC blather nonsense about Trump’s increasingly nonexistent future in politics, I’d rather watch brawny, laid-back construction workers in blue jeans and flannel shirts build beautiful escapes in the Maine woods. Wouldn’t you?


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