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My first woke encounter in 1982
File this under the strangulation of culture.
In 1982, I walked into an LA deli to pick up a pastrami sandwich to go. I passed by a booth where an old pal of mine, Paul, who I hadn’t seen in 20 years, was sitting next to a woman.
I stopped and said hello. Paul introduced me to his wife, Carol.
I said to Paul: “So what have you been up to?”
He glared at me.
“Why are you asking ME?” he said. “Why aren’t you asking CAROL?”
That was an interesting jolt. A non-sequitur.
I said, “Because I just met Carol this very minute. I’ve known you for a long time. So naturally I’m asking you.”
I knew that somehow he’d replaced his spine with an ideological column of jelly.
I pictured him standing in a ranch kitchen cooking up a batch of soy burgers for a fleet of women (including his wife), who were out on the range rounding up and branding the cattle.
He said, “We’re living in a community.”
Now I saw him and his wife sneaking out to the deli after six months of living off roots and tubers they dug in the forest.
Now I imagine Paul and Carol emerging from a tiny apartment after two years of isolation, still wearing their masks, and carrying vaccine passports. They walk into Whole Foods, where they glare at unmasked shoppers. It’s their solemn duty.
She pushes the shopping cart. She has the Mastercard at the checkout counter. He loads the groceries in the trunk of their used Prius. She drives home.
And what does all this accomplish? Beats me.
It’s a dead end. And Paul realizes it. But it’s too late to turn back. He must continue to observe the Form that was laid down years ago.
Yes, of course they voted for Biden. That was a blow for unity and diversity and role reversal. Paul and Carol WERE still making a difference.
At home, she led the conversations about the advance of socialism and the path to victory. He confirmed her assessments. When he disagreed on a point, he kept his mouth shut. Why? To make up for the centuries of oppression against women.
Devotion to the Right Thing wasn’t an easy road, but he was walking it.
In the bathroom, the toilet seat was always left down. Leaving it up would constitute a great crime of forgetfulness. It had been left down for decades.
Sex? Sex had always been a crime. So they omitted it.
Television? Yes, the news. CNN. MSNBC. PBS, above all. A nightly observance ritual. Absorb the latest updates on The Doctrine.
Once in a while, they would watch two minutes of Tucker Carlson on FOX. Paul considered uttering, “I’m triggered.” But that seemed a bit much.
Carol would point her finger at the screen and say the man should be arrested. She didn’t mind doing that.
Paul and Carol. A man and a woman in America.
One night, Paul said, “If I were eight years old now, I’d think about transitioning to a girl.”
Carol got up and left the room. She walked into the bedroom, shut the door, and kicked over a wooden chair.
Paul clicked away from the news and watched a few minutes of an episode of the Paramount series, Yellowstone.
He saw a wide open sky. In his imagination, he was riding a horse at dawn, hurtling across a valley toward the horizon with nobody and nothing in his way.
Fury and joy intertwined; from a time and place he believed was dead. To which he wished he could go. Which he longed for.
Its essence, he realized, was something he was committed to destroy.
-- Jon Rappoport