It was time. Every confession, a taunt, an effort
to denigrate, if not herself, then me.
Old age invites humiliation but being disgusting
is a choice. It’s a fashion statement; it’s a great way
to get back at a snotty son, prove him wrong.
He doesn’t come from a good family and there is not
a goddamned thing he can do about it. The little shit.
She’ll show him. He wants people to think well of him.
She’ll expose him as a fake. She’ll show everyone
his family is nothing more than trash.
He thinks he’s so refined with his fancy degrees.
She’ll get everyone to see him for what he really is,
the son of Catskill Mountain hillbillies, potato farmers,
depression-era desperados, the kind of people who pimp
their daughters to Brooks Brothers businessmen.
They were sent to the Big City to join typing pools,
spending ½ their time in the pool and ½ on their knees.
That’s the so-called middle-class from which he descends,
little clones of Clarice; yes, her! That lost girl with nightmares
who joined the FBI. She learned to hide behind shiny shoes.
College is America’s finishing school where we learn to talk sweet.
One learns to eat brie and drink white wine when what we crave is draft beer
and a basket of pretzels. We learn to wear slippers and don silk jackets.
This is how some people live, sure, but there are many more who’d prefer to loll about,
watching TV, half-naked, looking more like a stud in a wife-beater.
The veneer of respectability is thin, we see it now;
it’s out in the open. We got it with the Clintons, we see it in Trump.
It is easier to hate than to see ourselves.
The money doesn’t disguise who we really are.
Only the Kennedys had enough to hide their smell.
How much perfume can one wear? JFK knew what he wanted
from the WH typing pool; Jackie O called them the White House
dogs. Bill Clinton left the back door open. Arkansas state troopers
procured the typists. This is what made a man of Hillary.
Women learn to adapt. It’s the men who don’t understand.
David Lohrey was born on the Hudson River but grew up on the Mississippi in Memphis. He currently teaches in Tokyo. He has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register, has been a member of the Dramatists Guild in New York, and he is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. His latest book, The Other Is Oneself: Postcolonial Identity in a Century of War: 20th Century African and American Writers Respond to Survival and Genocide, is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing.