A Forced March Into an Already-Old New Year

Lockdown lunacy, a challenge for Nicole—and Trump’s “come-as-dumb-as-you-are” farewell party, with sparklers.

I’M PANDEMICKED, WHO ARE YOU? ARE you Pandemicked, too? Did you awaken this morning, as I did, with a stone for a heart, and emitting a groan that echoed through the inner city like twelve ambulances en route to a burning trap house?

What a coincidence!

In my former life, when every day was a sun-drenched meadow carpeted with buttercups wagging their yellow heads and I was so very, very ungrateful, I would wake up from a terrifying nightmare and enjoy the delicious relief of knowing that none of the monsters were real.

No one was chasing me brandishing a Japanese fish filleting knife and a live carp. Oh, pshaw! I was not, after all, running in slo-mo to catch a train, with noodle legs sporting lead boots, through quicksand. How silly! I did not have to play a Brahms concerto I’d never learned on a clunky upright piano for my great-aunts, lined up in their coffins, while my public school principal stood by, eyes like black hollows, wielding a barber’s razor strop.

Just my feverish imagination! My life, I now admit with a pang of regret, was a luscious southern Ontario peach, already peeled and served to me by a shirtless George Clooney—because, if you’re reading this, George, and I know you are, Ney-norge, Cloo-cloo, my adoration is too pure and respectful to allow for full nudity, at least for the first ten minutes—a succulent peach served on a Meissen platter from the estate of Marie Antoinette, whilst the red-red bobbin’ robin warbled his damn head off.

Not any more, Murgatroyd McGraw. Those days are gone. For well-nigh twelve months now—

—I say “months” but it could be years or hours or even some new measure for time, the “ennui,” who knows?

“Let’s meet by the entrance to the Food Bank, in twenty ennuis!” and you start to get dressed but suddenly all your shirts look the same, and you can’t find two matching socks, or remember if it’s the first or second Monday of this week, so you just say, “fuck it!” and lie face down in a half-inch of bathwater—

—for twelve months now I’m the worm, looking up at a colossal, razor-sharp beak and a gigantic glossy black marble of an eye. Warble, warble, chirp.

The robin isn’t hesitating, weighing up options like clemency. He’s listening, waiting for me to betray myself with a breath or a twitch. He’s salivating, or whatever the heck robins do when they’re about to gobble you up. He’s putting off the moment when I become half a worm, then no worm at all; he’s merely anticipating his treat, the way you save a couple of French fries for when you’ve finished your Happy Meal.

Here’s where we stand at the beginning of what looks like at least one more year of fucktardery to make 2020 seem like an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation with a bunch of pink, flabby Conservatives ordering up “massages” with happy endings (Hint: you’ll find it under “the flap”) and chortling into their Mai Tai’s:

Insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol, incited by Trump and a whole posse of Republicans, with five dead as a result. At least three of them were QAnons and Trumpers, and I’m biting my usually tart tongue with the effort not to be an asshole about it.

But you know, and can I just say, seriously. These people died doing what they loved: being idiots, and how many of us will be able to say that?

Trump treated his rapt audience on The Mall to his scariest, most unhinged speech to date, excommunicating his loyal side-kick, Mike Pence (who by sheer luck had just a few days earlier found his missing testicles in a cigar box tucked behind his New English Bible), exhorting his thug army to “be strong,” and repeating his shocking lie that the election had been rigged and the presidency stolen from him.

Who was really surprised when, finally, whipped into a frenzy and masterfully manipulated by Trump, his followers exploded with the pent-up rage of four years and headed to the Capitol with the intent to stop the certification of Biden’s victory. They’d brought with them pipe bombs, they carried firearms and their own tear gas; they wielded handcuffs made from plastic zip ties and signs reminding us that this was a sacred crusade to “Save America”.

“All of them are traitors,” shouted one burly man in his 50’s. “All of them!”

Storming the Capitol, they assaulted police offers with hockey sticks, dragged them down stairs, and murdered one with a well-placed blow with a fire extinguisher. They shoved through barricades, ten, twenty rioters easily overcoming the one or two officers manning them, and proving that barricades, like laws, are only effective to the extent that we believe in them.

They penetrated the building until they were outside the Senate chamber. What would they have done, if they managed to break in, with tear gas, handcuffs and firearms? We didn’t want to think it possible, yet it is confirmed by the the FBI that the goal was to kidnap and even assassinate lawmakers and remove the voter counts. Many of them knew exactly where to go once inside, suggesting that they’d been briefed in advance.

The rioters, overwhelmingly male, uttered death threats to the Speaker, publicly, in texts they were either too stupid or too brazen to conceal. They took selfies sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s chair and mugged as they carted off her lectern, proving that a powerful woman rankles most of all.

(More than just liberal, more than SJW, more than elite. Powerful women, a.k.a. bitches, get under the tattooed flesh of every white supremacist. In fact, scratch any old white dude grumbling in his La-Z-Boy while watching the game and you’ll uncover an embryonic white supremacist who only needs a bit of encouragement by the boys down at the garage, his fellow incels wanking over the Pirelli calendar. I suspect, but cannot prove, that one withering look from Nancy Pelosi and they’d scatter like a pile of dirty socks confronted with a Tide pod.)

The rioters were sad, bewildered schmucks, like medieval peasants who’d breached the walls of the castle. Their bravado, their obvious disdain for the sanctity of the Capitol and their cluelessness about its history, betrayed the tawdriness of their mission. They were revealed as no more than hard-core white trash, air-lifted from the trailer park and beamed into a gilded ballroom in a distant galaxy where courtiers danced a minuet.

These are the Philistines, the Puritans and the pioneers, this is the true, no-frills-permitted, anti-elitist spirit of America. This is the world that’s coming: contemptuous, resentful, driven by ignorance and hunger. “Let’s have trial by combat!” shouted Rudy Giuliani, and they delivered.

What in god’s name happened to the Rudy Giuliani who stood in the smoldering graveyard of the Twin Towers and solemnly comforted the nation, who reminded New Yorkers that they were not defeated, that they would survive even that horror? Twenty years later, here he is, slumming it, a universally despised, witless clown, ordering home-grown terrorists to break into the cockpit and fly the jets themselves.

Is it “the Trump effect”? If clueless lack of class and self-serving amorality are this contagious, we should have been wearing masks every time we logged on to Twitter.

What have we learned from the Trumpers’ Revolt of January 6th, 2021? Well, dudes, democracy is fragile. Also, I’m TOTALLY giving up wearing casual clothing made from small game. Sooooo overdone. Never a good choice. I see this now.

Twitter has reacted by banning Trump, and I can only congratulate them for their stern reprimand and decisive action, following what must have been a tortured four years of uncertainty.

The rest of us came to the facile conclusion, starting around November, 2016, that delivering racist monologues and demonizing journalists, all the way up to pressuring foreign governments for intelligence, threatening public health with bizarre “alternative” cures and disinformation about a deadly pandemic and directing your followers to riot and kill based on the lie that you won an election you actually lost, did not count as “free speech,” but you guys took the trouble to make one hundred percent sure that Trump’s hateful rhetoric wasn’t protected, just nonsense you’d punish a five-year-old for indulging in, except that Trump’s version is in-your-face, full-bore sedition.

Following suit are legions of high-minded political donors abandoning Trump like rats casually walking down the gangplank with the ship safely in harbor.

Twitter, we are devastated that, without your due diligence and “can-do” attitude, we might have been too hasty with our condemnations. Next step: Check the barns for bolted horses and secure those doors!

Even Melania “Be Bester!” herself has come out of seclusion and, seductively pulling on some Ralph Lauren pantyhose, stood up once again for American values. Yes, Melania has unequivocally and unhesitatingly condemned the violence—the violence done to her, that is, by people who interpreted her saying “who gives a fuck about Christmas” and chainsawing the Rose Garden as somehow negative. Honestly, you’d expect we could at least give this walking testimonial to Photoshop the benefit of the doubt! Except there’s no doubt.

Forgive us, Melania, for we knew not what they teached!

More? This must be what the man meant when he said, “the fun never stops!” Toronto is entering yet another lock-down phase where we are compelled to stay at home, except for life-essentials such as bidding goodbye through panes of glass to the elderly relatives you’ve abandoned to the humiliating ministrations of abusive nursing aides in squalid, unregulated long-term care facilities.

Thank our lucky stars that we can still buy food and bath salts at mom-and-pop shops as long as we do curbside pickup. But why do that when we can grab a cart and play bump’ems down the aisles at Walmart and Costco, who clearly need our custom, and stock up on flat-screen TVs whose prices are cheerfully subsidized by starvation-wage workers housed in jumbo tents in snowbanks, and who have finally evolved to live on the carbon dioxide the rest of us exhale.

Praise Judy, Mother of Liza, for memories of fine dining, as we co-opt the homeless, who are officially not bound by the lockdown orders, to pick up our Pad Thai and souvlaki and chow mein from restaurants on the verge of bankruptcy and deliver them to us, we who are so far untainted by anything except disdain for the homeless and greed. For COVID-19, Doug Ford’s research has established, also shares our good taste, leaving those experiencing homelessness amazingly free from infection and ready to become our concierges with dirty faces.

Let’s make lemonade, like this: My building’s management has asked us to share our stories of inspiration. Did we start a blog (!), learn a new skill? Affirmative! I’m developing a circus act in which I stare at the ceiling with a haunted expression for an entire night, then spend the next eighteen hours pacing my apartment with my pants around my ankles, eating mayonnaise and alternately weeping hysterically then laughing like Charlotte Corday just before she stabbed Marat. In French, of course. It’ll slay them in Des Moines.

And because I’m old and pine for that simpler, more sophisticated terrorism of days of yore, I sometimes épater those touchy bourgeois by pulling on a hijab and shouting “Vive le Québec libre!” which also satisfies my CanCon requirements.

Canadian angst. What a joke, quel bavardage! The U.S. has riots, every state legislature tensed for attack, more riots and perhaps even a bomb attack during the Inauguration. What do we have for scandal and mayhem?

Some measly non-recusals and a few hypocritical hols! No deaths. No infidelities. No one’s ever shouted “piece of shit!” or “traitor!” at Castro’s love child. We’ll never play with the big boys at this rate. But that’s the sad story of our Canuck lives: always the bridesmaid, never the hangman at the mass execution of one’s political enemies!

Adding final insult to injury like a Tim Hortons worker dumping sugar into your triple-triple, Nicole Kidman is being cast in a biopic as Lucille Ball. Nicole Kidman! Whoever made the decision to deny Meryl Streep yet another chance to suck all the oxygen out of the room with her gift for mimicry and plumb the depths of Lucy’s tortured soul will surely have some splainin’ to do, which is not at all cliché or racist, unless, like me, you wear the badges of Politically Correct and Social Justice Warrior with unabashed pride.

Social Justice Warrior. We live in a world where people are mocked, hated, even, because they believe in social justice. Did you remember that?

Glad we’re all on the same page again.


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