I should have been ready for it, but I wasn’t. My daughter’s sixteenth birthday couldn’t have come as a shock to me, and yet it did. I have had all these years to prepare for this day, but I am not sure there is any way that you can really prepare for it, that day when your child places one foot squarely into the swampy chaos of adulthood, with the other foot all too soon to follow. Because, brothers and sisters, once they get their driver’s license, it’s the beginning of the end.
A friend of mine is in line at the drive-thru of a local fast food restaurant, and a guy with Trump decals all over the back of his truck pulls into the wrong lane, facing those who are trying to “drive through,” realizes his error, lifts his middle finger to all of those waiting in line, and then races off shouting out his window, “Trump, Trump, Trump! Like it or get out of my country!”
When my wife brought up the possibility of camping at this year’s Merlefest — a four-day and three-night music festival in Wilkes County — naturally, we thought she had taken ill or had just awakened from a bad dream, which will sometimes cause her to say things like, “Did you put away the jar of spiders” or “No, you cannot borrow my helicopter.”
“What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”
— John “Bluto” Blutarsky, Animal House, 1978
“I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart …. People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?”
— Donald J. Trump, White House, 2017
As all successful couples understand, the key to happiness is mastering the art of communication. When facing a Big Decision — like whether or not to foster shelter dogs, for example — the successful couple will sit down with flexible minds and full hearts, outlining all of the issues in neat and revealing columns, so that each point can be thoughtfully and compassionately considered and, if necessary, debated until compromises can be forged and a decision is reached.
I was all set to write another column on Donald Trump, who somehow seems more unhinged with each passing week, but when I sat down to write it, I had an epiphany: it is opening day of baseball season, spring is the air, and the NCAA basketball championship is just hours away. Simply put, I am in too good a mood to write about Trumplethinskin. This week, I would rather eat a bowl of thumbtacks than spend one more minute thinking about him.
I found them in the corner of the basement, hidden like Easter Eggs underneath a blue tarp which was itself partially obscured by a couple of discarded boxes. Our basket of baseballs. I cannot recall exactly when or why we started keeping a dozen or more baseballs in an old Easter basket — most likely because it was handy and I couldn’t lay my hands on a bucket just then — but for the past several years, when spring rolls around and chases the frost out of the yard, I make my annual descent into the basement to fetch the baseball basket.
As near as I can tell, the readers of this newspaper are pretty evenly divided on whether I should continue writing columns about President Donald Trump. I get emails, letters, Facebook messages and comments from readers I bump into at church or in the grocery store who assure me that I am contributing something meaningful to our democracy and urge me on, as a member of the much-maligned free press doing my best to speak truth to power. At the very least, those of us in the media who are willing to take on Trump are providing some measure of relief or catharsis to those who feel threatened, disgusted or alienated by the president.
There has never been a president like Donald Trump. There has never been a campaign like the campaign that Trump waged to win the election. And there has never been a first month of a new administration like the first month of the Trump administration.
His detractors — and I am one of them — need to stop saying, “This is not normal.” Of course it is not normal. It was never supposed to be normal. The appeal of Trump was built upon that precipice. The American people were fed up with “normal” as it pertains to American politics, so to use that particular phrase as a rallying cry of the resistance is to miss the point entirely.
They were both quiet, their voices barely audible even during roll call, and absolutely silent otherwise. Even as a new teacher, I understood that freshman English was a class that most students simply endured, rather than enjoyed. I had not really enjoyed it that much myself when I had been a freshman, so what flint did I have that could generate a spark for writing narrative or comparison and contrast essays among my own students? Neither Steve nor David seemed to express any more interest than I had in the immense possibilities that writing an essay might contain.