Saturday, October 31, 2020


I was shocked this evening to see a bit of manifested holiday cheer on the streets, children and parents in costumes-- trick or treating, I suppose, at doorways of shops, grocery stores...  merriment in the park... adults on bicycles dressed as ghosts and Teletubbies.  I'm not sure what I'd be doing if I had young children-- does one keep up the illusion that life is going on as it did, that joy and celebration are still appropriate even during a pandemic?  We Americans-- we make the best of things, I've heard.  Some of us.  

In 1961 I wore one of my father's old suit jackets, pinned and rolled up-- a Stetson hat and a John F Kennedy rubber mask.  It was a good disguise for me, the perennial tomboy who at that moment hated makeup and princess clothes--  low-maintenance and warm.  I tried to imitate the walk of a war hero-turned political leader-- really the first President I celebrated in my young life.  He was a young, handsome father, like my Dad-- a former soldier.  We were old enough to follow the election in school and we loved him.  Again in 1964 I'd looked through my closet for ideas-- was way more enthusiastic about theatre and music and boys than trick or treating...  considered reviving the Kennedy mask, but post-mortem it seemed more tastelessly macabre and politically incorrect.  

Today I saw Trump masks-- left over from 2016?  New ones made with the irony of the very image of the mask-shunner stamped like a grotesque advertisement for the Corona virus?  Hard to decipher whether the wearers are haters or supporters.  An army of Trump faces on the street is as scary as Halloween gets.  Pumpkinheads. 

Last night I was so agitated about the upcoming election I slept not at all.  To distract myself I memorized the presidential sequence.  Incredible to me I've lived through twelve and hopefully will see thirteen in a matter of months.  As an early voter, I forgot I'd have this feeling of helplessness as the day approaches; not much we can do but encourage others.  It's politics, it's numbers... but I've still not fully recovered from the devastating mental hangover of November 9, 2016.  It can't happen again... but yes, it can.  

Out of the 45 names I litanised, there were some bad ones; we lived.  I can't blame the entire pandemic on one man... and yet he's become the symbol-- the mask, as it were, of evil-- of 'spread'... the very opposite of a Protector, a hero-- a blunderbuss opportunist who's turned America into a casino culture.  A cartoon-man whose flaws and failures have been woven into the very fabric of this country in a way that is unprecedented and more horrifying than any haunted house I can imagine.

I have this image in my mind... of a quiet parade-less Thanksgiving morning with one enormous balloon in the shape of an obese Donald Trump floating above the city, children being given old-fashioned pea-shooters or plastic darts.  Pin the tail on the Trump-donkey.  But today, after a sleepless night, I saw the boarded-up windows of Macy's-- a city on edge,  anticipating unrest-- catastrophe.  This is more than an election... this is not a democratic process but a seismic sociologic event.  

Just one year ago I was a musician.  Halloween for decades was not just a children's holiday but a gig-- revelry and dancing.  We played and shared microphones, sang our hearts out-- swapped sweat, licked strings and kissed one another.  We exchanged vampire teeth and masks, ate candy corn and hung plastic skulls from our guitar-necks.  We did Misfits covers and carved out pumpkins.  It is hard to think about being a musician when there is no live music.  What am I?  What are we?  We are diminished-- we are masked not from celebration but from fear.  

It's not just Halloween and a rare blue moon, but the one day of the year we are given an extra hour.  November is beginning on a 'loaded' night... spirits are flitting around, and the cold autumn air is fraught with socially distanced energy and urbanites jacked up on sugar and alcohol.  Kids are resilient, but even they know how much we've lost in the past seven months; the novelty has worn off.  I'm tired of thinking my future will be little more than nostalgic reminiscence-- story-telling.  Tonight I am measuring my life by presidents... ready for my thirteen.  Whatever lurks out there for us, let there be a little hope and humanity-- something more than candy wrappers and smashed pumpkins.  We have less choice than usual, but we can put our faith in a man with a mask, or throw our chips in with a human mask that camouflages a hollow man.  Once in a blue moon, we might deserve a miracle.  

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Blogger Unknown said...

So a belated happy hollow to you. Just caught up with this amazing one. I have a big fat ole book from 1876 about the 100th anniversary of youessay. Filled with great illustrations and gobs of historical triviana...some of it might even be true. How cool to count presidents instead of sheep... or because of. Praised the Be Powers, we got our election. But we're still an astonishingly sick split country. Sick n' split in so many ways. But hope springs...internal.

Love reading your mind. Pea-shooters at the boarded-up Blump parade. Ha!

November 8, 2020 at 10:43 PM  

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