You go, girl

I don’t remember The Cheeto’s inauguration. I had other things on my mind around January 20th in 2017. I was about to check into the hospital for a surgery I dreaded but was trying to face with the stoicism I thought it deserved. I was determined not to let either the disease itself or the effects it would have on my body become the definition of who I was, who I am. It was something to be dealt with, woven into the patchwork of all the fabric that makes me who I am.

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was walk into that operating room. It was huge, filled with frightening machines, all reaching their spindly metal arms toward me, trying to nip off pieces of me. I had to walk to the table as if it was something I wanted to do. I sat, wiggled out of my slippers and lay down. The room was buzzing with nurses and doctors but nobody even looked up. I remember hearing someone asking permission to remove my socks but I couldn’t see who it was. I had never been so frightened in my life. Every tingling nerve screamed for me to get up, run away, but I forced myself to lie still.

Afterward, the food was horrible, the doctors disinterested. I had tubes coming out of me at awkward angles. I tried to be cool but a couple of days later, the tears started to flow, slowly at first but then a brook and then a stream and then a great gushing river as I heaved wounded animal sobs. Doctors and nurses rushed in. I pulled the blanket over my head and tried to hide, thinking, “For God’s sake, leave me alone! Just let me do this.”

One of the doctors asked if I’d like to see the hospital psychiatrist. “Sure,” I choked, thinking that might make them go away. It did.

By the time the shrink showed up, I had gotten myself together. I’d sobbed out all the tension and frustration and pure rage that I’d been carrying around for months. To his credit, it didn’t take him long to figure that out. I don’t remember what we talked about except that he asked me if I thought The Cheeto would get assassinated.

I looked at him for a long time, trying to understand why he would ask me that, searching for a stronger word than ‘irrelevant’ but not finding one.

“I’m sure someone will try,” was all I could come up with. I wanted to laugh but it wasn’t really funny. I didn’t want to admit how much I liked the idea.

All of this came tumbling back to me just now, when I read an article in the Washington Post about Kamala, who will be sworn in tomorrow, America’s first black, Asian, female Vice President. She brings so much with her, so much that the White House has never seen. She has such potential for good, from putting free tampons in schools to closing the gender pay gap to giving mothers the leg up they need and deserve. And her husband is Jewish. It feels like someone took aim at the celestial dart board and shot three darts right into the bullseye. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Huzzah!

I have extraordinary hope for the future, after the year we’ve just survived personally to the anguish the entire world is trying to cope with, to the unfathomable 70 million Americans who still saw fit to vote for The Cheeto.

All I can think is, “You go, girl,” first and foremost to Kamala, but also to me and to you and to all women everywhere. You go, girl.

Erection

A modest bow of acknowledgement and gratitude to Jonelle Patrick

One Tuesday evening in November long ago, probably in 1988 but maybe it was 1992, I walked into a classroom to teach English. It was a night class. The students were mostly male, salaried workers in rumpled suits with laundry bags of exhaustion hanging under their eyes.

I smiled my perkiest smile and said, “Today is a special day in the United States. Does anyone know why?”

Heads were scratched and air was sucked and finally one brave fellow, striped necktie askew, looked up at me.

“You have an erection?”

Fighting the urge to look down to make sure, I walked to the chalkboard and wrote the word, spelled correctly, and hoped the issue would tuck its tail under its chin and fade into the ugly carpet.

And now, so many years later, on another Tuesday in November, decades and oceans away, I can only hope the current reign of terror will tuck its tail under its chin and make its way into the carpet.

But I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. Judging by the past four years, the current nightmare is unlikely to die a noble death or even attempt a scrap of dignity. With luck, the will of the people will capture it in a net and toss it out the window, ignorance, arrogance, bigotry and all, and it will get sucked into the annals of history, never to rear its ugly head again.

Let sanity reign.