Instead of going to the train home, I went to T Tower. I was having another bout of “This can’t be happening,” this time the source of the flare-up was reading that DT’s hand would rest on the Lincoln Bible at the inauguration.
He lives in a tower, at the top, just like the Grinch.
Why was I doing this? This was a bad idea. Why would I want to go there? I was obsessed. It would help. It was a bad idea.
The barricades go all the way around. To get closer than the sidewalk corner touching the building, you must at least state your business, a sign says, “Starbucks/T Tower only.” There was a tiny tent for a person running that station. Unlike a friend who talked his way in, I accepted not getting any closer.
Why was I there at all? He’s just a person, I thought.
The NYPD, bundled up, with their bored but solid faces. I didn’t figure T Tower was among the prime assignments.
I crossed the street, and behind a bunch of lights and things covered in tarps, probably left by reporters and TV crews, there was a group of red-hatted people. About ten of them were holding American flags and some of them held lit candles, too. Like DT was a condemned prisoner, or someone had died there.
I looked at their faces with mine completely open, like I had taken it off, my eyes had never been so open, for anything to walk in. They were people. Right? Who on earth were they? What on earth were they thinking?
People who have been bullied want to ally themselves with bullies, that happens. What were they feeling? I have come to think the epidemic of abuse women suffer set them up to think voting for a person like him was okay. “It’s just the way men are,” I read many times. That’s the propaganda of abuse.
They really felt tenderly toward the bad-tempered, vulgar, self-contradicting millionaire?
There was a guy wearing a sign that said, “BUTTONS,” one of the gentleman entrepreneurs who spring up like mushrooms around here. At your service. They were anti-T buttons, of course those would sell better.
I stood there, leaning on the barricade, looking up at the ziggurat of the black tower, on the dark grey sky. It was quotidian. It was just something that had happened. The tower with the Grinch in it, sneering at everyone but his friends, well friends is the wrong word, when you intimidate people like that, you’ll never know if you have any real friends.
I leaned on the metal barricade. It wasn’t that cold. People behind me took photos, took photos of each other, without any political vibe to them. I didn’t want to take any photos.
Why wasn’t there a 24-7 vigil here, hoping and praying this guy would act like a responsible adult? For all our 24-7ness now, protests gather and swarm and then dry up.
I walked away, and all that money of that part of town was glaring harder. My rent check had bounced that day, I had money, just had moved it around before the check cleared, in one of my classic moves, it made me feel like an idiot, but it also made me feel good that I wasn’t indebted to, or entangled with, that garish volume of money and braggadocio. I loved the blue blouse I bought at the thrift store last weekend. It was $5. It is silk, with tiny white polka-dots.
So much money no one needs. When it makes beautiful things, I am grateful. Big money funds the Met, our grimy-pretty subway stations, and, unfortunately, the local police presence all around T Tower.
When it makes more ugliness, it’s so sad for everyone. It makes more want, and a world that looks like there’s some way to show off that will finally make you a person.
I found myself at the TKTS counter handing the woman my debit card for an $80 ticket. Oh shit.
I was going to see John Slattery, John Goodman, and, sure, him, too, Nathan Lane. I’ve had a thing for Slattery from way before “Mad Men,” and I love John Goodman’s work choices maybe as much as his work. He gave us the relief of seeing a family without enough money on “Roseanne,” and his work with the Coen Brothers, my spirit animals, he brought power in his body, and brittleness in his soul. Slattery is charming as the devil himself, moves like the sexiest gazelle on the savannah, first to tease you, then tickle you, then, well, then.
The play: I sat next to someone else at the theater alone, which is always nice, even if we don’t talk, it feels companionable. He laughed well, too. It took a while for Slattery to get onstage, once he was there, I (apologies to his wife) spent some time watching his hands move and think about what they would be good at, which distracted me from any dialogue. Happily the script called for him to change his clothes, too. I would guess the large contingent of gay couples in the front rows didn’t mind this, either, as Slattery surfs. I would say he surfs a lot.
Goodman I didn’t love his part, I didn’t love the play, but to be in the room, a rather self-referential room, where Slattery remarking, “I’ll go into advertising,” is met with a chuckle, as is a line about how to get out of politics “You should go to Washington, DC.”
A show including police brutality, political corruption, journalism, women discounted and shrugged off and insulted, and all of it played lightly, for laughs. Someone jumps out a window. There’s a sound effect of the police testing the gallows. “Crime’s up in Chicago!” It is.
It was strange, to be in the room with great comedians, Slattery, Goodman, and of course Nathan Lane, whom I had never seen on stage. He’s what they meant when they said, “chewing the scenery.” Is there a voice bigger? Is anyone else funnier just trying to push a desk? All excellent comedians, hams, able to play their faces and hold energy in their bodies different places, and move and swoop just as they intended, it was nothing like what I’d say I love at the theater, which is transcendence, being taken in and enlightened. This wasn’t that show.
It was a world we acknowledged was unreal, it was Brechtian that way, we acknowledged that John Slattery is famous for a TV show, he gets applause. We acknowledge this is all for laughs, no one’s going to leap up and say we should take capital punishment or gun laws seriously. These men with their brashness and their expertise were being clowns for us, and it felt like immediately behind their performance, they knew how much we needed it, and they needed it, too.
I didn’t cry. I did laugh, at some dumb things, and because I wanted to, and because I had been afraid if I went home I would spend the evening in bed, cursing our internet for being patchy and wondering what I ought to be doing instead of watching TV.
And when I left I didn’t feel healed, exactly, or calmed, I was still unnerved by the depression that I felt just above my shoulders, which might lower hard the way it did last week. At least I knew that we had tried, that they had tried. For more than a few minutes, I was free.
Image: “Pierrot Laughing,” Nadar, Adrien Tournachon, Metropolitan Museum of Art.