Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Things We Swallow

Flu or Fly? It's going around. This cough, spasms of it making unproductive chasms.

Yes, doctor, one year ago I swallowed a fly. I don’t know why I swallowed a fly. He is buzzing around in my eye and he’s in my brain besides. Sometimes I laugh but more often I cry. 

I’ve been watching the specimen through one-way glass. How he frets and struts. What he spouts and flaunts. A few others have swallowed this fly… about 100 million of us and are also watching and listening to him. We’ve never seen an Ego and Id of such abnormal size.

Abe Lincoln and Mary were watching the play when Booth shot him four score and seven times, took his stovepipe hat and became president. It’s all theater, he said and you people, of, by and for…your name is now Mudd. Next on stage whispering in Oval Office ears were the Robber Baron penny-pinchers and lynchers, Birchers and Birthers. They bequeathed it to Elmer Gantry, Archie Bunker and Citizen Kane.

I don’t know why this nation keeps swallowing flies. When the fly hasn’t reached its demise we swallow a spider that wriggles and jiggles and tickles inside her. That must be this dreaded cough. Then we swallow a bird, how absurd, in order to swallow the spider. Maybe we will swallow a swallow. The Rust Belt swallowed a goat; they just opened their throat, then they swallowed a horse; they will die of course.

Men and women in white coats, scholars, and writers are up all night chronicling the specimen’s actions, transfixed on his slurs and rants, his boasts and blather. He’s got us. We don’t know if he is ill or brilliant, half deranged from the Cuckoo’s Nest, half Tony Soprano and the third half, Mortimer Snerd. If he is Mr. Magoo or was born on Krypton with a chest of superlatives. He is that fly on the wall. He has me climbing the wall. No, not that wall.  

Don’t you think it is time to turn away? Yes, doctor, I wish I could cough it out. You say the condition is not covered by my HMO. But it has reached pandemic proportions. The fly eats up my day. I see it in every book, every film. It’s in Greek drama. In Shakespeare. He's the poisoned apple in my fruit salad, the toxic mushroom in my pizza. Schedule me for surgery. Call it elective.

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