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The Violently Familiar

We drove through Dotard country before anyone called him a dotard. Saw signs in yards: “PROUD DEPLORABLE”. Now, weeks after the Christmas decorations, the life-sized crèches and the flashing red and green lights dancing around windows, have been dismantled and entrusted to the basement or attic ‘til next year, those homages to Trump still stand, like monuments to a Confederate hero.

Overheard:

I don’t give a shit if he’s a pussy grabber. And I’m gay. I’m gay and he can grab my pussy whenever. Cause his tax plan’s saved me $300,000. Yes, $300,000. So, yeah, he can grab my pussy. And I’m telling all the lib-tards in my office who work for me that this is moving downward to benefit them.

Another: “I don’t like him, didn’t vote for him, but neither did I vote for Clinton. Truth is though, he’s good for business. Look at the stock market. He’s keeping his promises.”

Moving along. Another school shooting on Tuesday, one among eleven this year and we haven’t left January yet.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and their community.”

“Senator, could you please comment on the school shooting in Kentucky?”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

“How ‘bout a candlelight vigil?”

Confession: My guy and I went to a shooting range. Backstory: I don’t remember. Perhaps, some discussion among friends and family—debating the importance of knowing how to handle a gun. In the event of…….. So, my guy gave me, as a Christmas gift, a two-hour lesson at some huge gun range. A two-hour lesson with a tightly-wound man who intro’d himself as “former law enforcement with the Memphis Police Department.” A man who said he taught his daughter to shoot a gun when she was three. I thought of my grandson V, who’s three. When I visited him a month ago, he’d just come home from daycare with a note from the teacher. V had bitten another child who’d grabbed his toy. If V had been packing heat, that bite would have been a bullet.

I just wrote an entire paragraph and then moved my right-hand’s index finger over and up to the delete button. Delete, delete, delete. I write and then question the words. How do we know anything is real? Most of the articles I read are opinion pieces. Whom to trust? I’m asking here. Asking you. I don’t watch cable news. Occasionally, I read some report—establishment journal-ism. Some Wall Street ism. A race of greed. A greed marathon. Destruction of our planet seems the goal and if not the goal, definitely the consequence. Once upon a time, I believed the uber-wealthy needed the working class. To perform the work. To perform the work that they, the uber-wealthy, didn’t want to do, thought they were above doing. Now, I know that the working class is dispensable. It’s the age of robotics. No word of mouth. No want ads. No job interviews. Sure, robots require a little maintenance, a tuning, but that’s not as expensive as providing benefits, health insurance, workman’s compensation. Artificial intelligence won’t sue. Won’t say, “Take this job and shove it.” Won’t go postal. Won’t enter the building with a grudge and shoot anything that moves or tries to hide beneath a desk.

I’m not young and idealistic anymore. I agonize that this country doesn’t resemble what I was raised by my parents to believe it was. I want it to be that place. For my children. For yours. For all who long to immigrate here for whatever reason. When I finally realized the vastness of the mythology, I believed we could amass and demand the world we envisage, thought our voices mattered. Now, I’m negative.

While Trump is a cruel, boastful, flattery-slurping sponge of a dotard, he tramples the path of previous beasts-in-chief to advance the interests of the owner class. Those who want to impeach this particular iteration are naïve to think a Pence presidency would be an improvement, or that a Clinton presidency would’ve done any more than provide gauze and ointment—like Gwyneth Paltrow’s euphemism for divorce—“conscious uncoupling”.

Can we not gauze it, not merely consciously uncouple? Can we just plain fucking divorce? Divorce a political party and not remarry that other political party? Divorce capitalism? Or are we so abused by the System that we remain with the violently familiar even when our very survival is at stake?

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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