It never occurred to me that one day I might compose these words: I really am beginning to miss the son-of-a-bitch.
For four years I slept restlessly, wondering what catastrophe or disaster or embarrassing tweet awaited my awakening. Cold sweats in mid-sleep would be accompanied by my blood-curdling screams into the night air. “The Best Is Yet to Come,” became my anthem to counter the idea that maybe things couldn’t get worse.
And yet they always seemed to.
But now, where is all the lunatic screaming and name-calling, the profiteering golf trips, the posturing, the show-and-tell bill signings, the crowds of toadies surrounding the most powerful man in the world? Why can’t we see world leaders rolling their eyes at presidential boorishness? Where are the teams of special prosecutors?
Where are the suggestions of bleach injections and the rectal Klieg lights, the projections of a mere fifteen cases before this little health issue would pass? Missing also are accusations of cancel culture, the support for Proud Boys, Fat Boys, Meth Boys, QAnon and white supremacists; the disdain for a domestic terrorist organization—antifa—that doesn’t exist?
No insurrections, no snowstorm of daily lies, no posing in front of a church holding a bible.
Who would want to live in such a world?
After 60 days of relative calm, of watching the American government climb back to the business of being responsive to the travails of a nation while working to provide its people both protection and opportunity, I wake up with a blood pressure reading that is through the roof.
Could it be that if I don’t have serious concerns to rant and rave about—issues to preach about stridently to the choir—that my system feels deprived and becomes hypertensive? Is this the punishment for wearing one’s progressive liberalism on one’s sleeve?
I know it’s not because President Biden used “cheat sheets” at his first press conference since taking office. Trump would have done well to have a few facts at hand during his briefings, conferences, and rallies. And I know it’s not because Biden has the occasional verbal gaffe. Trump’s gaffes were multiple and far more impressive in that his vocabulary was equal to that of an average fourth grader. Hard to make too many mistakes when you only know about four hundred words, yet he misspoke more often than Norm Crosby.
I believe that Biden wants us to know the facts about the problems we face and his Administration’s proposed solutions. Hence, the cheat sheets. Maybe, just maybe, the truth is making me ail.
After starting medication on Tuesday, my blood pressure readings were still at ceiling level. By Friday, I had added a pounding headache, whose every throb seemed in time with the beat of my heart, and my vision had blurred as if I was looking through somebody else’s reading glasses. The doctor I had seen on Monday advised me to go the emergency department, where medications could be administered that would control my hypertension immediately.
Unless your heart has been pierced by a wooden stake, shot in the groin, or your jugular vein severed, few things happen immediately in the ED.
Nine different people were involved in my nearly five-hour stay. A scan of my head showed no bleeding from the brain, which is always good news. (The last time I had a brain scan, the doctor told me there was nothing there. He thought that was funny.) The EKG showed a change from the last one, perhaps due to the heart attack I had two years ago. My BP started dropping, indicating to the doctors that additional meds would not be needed and that the diuretic was starting to work.
But nobody there could offer a reason why, after four years of Trump, I experienced a mild health crisis after sixty days of Biden. Maybe there is no connection, but I remember when my sister died, I told the attending physician it was because Trump had just taken office. He agreed. And that was in the pathetically red state of Indiana.
Back in the ED, the subject of the Holocaust came up. One of the attendants, upon hearing that nearly thirty percent of American adults don’t believe it even happened, noted that the figure coincided with Trump’s base.
And in the meantime, I’m reading an article in The New Yorker about the devolution of the Republican party into a party—at least its far-right faction—as an occult of Trump. There is no policy; only a personality that encourages free-wheeling abhorrence of civility, decency and lawlessness.
I’ve also read more than one suggestion that Biden is the new FDR. While I find that comforting, in a way, I doubt that he’ll have the Congressional support to put in place programs that pay for themselves—as did Roosevelt’s. America’s infrastructure is in dire need of repair and Biden would be wise to establish a Works Progress Administration to address the issue.
But I wonder about the source of my blood pressure problems. Unhappy with Trump for four years, now my hypertension soars.
I made an appointment with my shrink, Dr. Günter Klaus von Grubersteingruber, who, as you might remember, works days as a diesel mechanic.
“There is a certain sense of loss, a sense of abandonment, a sense of emptiness,” he said, his Austrian accent more pronounced than the last time we met when he spoke those exact same words. I was lying on a folding chaise lounge in the crowded backroom of his shop. The room was decorated with Hustler centerfolds and it smelled of cigarettes, burnt motor oil and sauerkraut. The space heater heaved from power surges. There was the occasional spark.
“You miss Trump for the same reasons you miss Nixon.”
“How so?” I asked.
“You don’t have him to kick around anymore.”
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Easter Lamb with Peas
This is a stew that is easy, festive and delicious for the Christian holiday coming next week.
2# lamb shoulder, boned and cut into large chunks
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 oz. anchovy fillets in oil
handful thyme sprigs
1 red chili pepper, sliced
9 oz. dry white wine
1 oz. white wine vinegar
10 oz. frozen peas
1 large potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season the lamb with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large, lidded pan and fry the onions, carrot, and celery for 4–5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, anchovies, thyme and chili, and continue to cook, stirring, until the anchovies have almost dissolved into the oil. Add the lamb chunks and fry for a further 4–5 minutes, or until browned all over.
Stir in the wine and continue to cook until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half, then add the vinegar. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Add the peas, potatoes, and tomatoes, cover and continue to cook for about an hour, until the sauce is reduced by half.
Serve hot with plenty of bread to mop up the sauce.