In the few months since the elections, I’ve found myself uncharacteristically edgy. I managed the post-partum depression pretty well, but the residual effect kicked back in, especially in my left shoulder, my unfailing barometer of tension.
I tried a number of remedies:
- Reading more fiction, always my refuge, but some vindictive demon seemed to stalk me: Madame Bovary (will surely end badly); Oliver Twist (if Fagin had built a hotel empire …); Heart of Darkness (will surely end in horror).
- Watching more hockey on television, but my team, the Avalanche, were clearly in need of Federal Disaster Assistance, which I knew would not come.
- Marching with proud women. They lifted my spirits, and I especially loved the sign that read PUTIN: RELEASE TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS, but my left shoulder still told me I needed to find a more lasting remedy.
I plunged back into crosswords and cryptics, usually an ideal distraction for a word nerd. Nada. Perhaps I was imagining some grand puzzle-constructor conspiracy, but it seemed that things persistently pointed back to the source of the problem: 15 Across: Go one better (TRUMP); 41 Down: Huey’s uncle (DONALD); 55 Down: Id’s governor (EGO); 63 Across: Enormous, slangily (YUGE).
I found temporary distraction in numbers. Sudoku, especially, offered politics-free, total concentration, but how long can you live in a world bounded by 1 and 9?
I thought of board games, but Monopoly is the only one around the house, and it’s just too close to the bone. Besides, if he’s not going to Jail, why should I?
I knew I had to go back to words, on my own terms. I decided to try medication (Editor’s note: that should be meditation). I knew I’d need a mantra and decided, why not, I’ll face my demon head on — Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, DONALD TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP, DONALD FUCKING TRUMP, DONALD F …
No, that definitely wasn’t working. Perhaps, if I used his actual middle-name, it might work (in some cultures, evil spirits can only be conjured with their full name). I looked it up: Donald John Trump. OMG, his middle-name is my first name, and my Dad’s too, a good name, a name to trust — John the Baptist, Elton John, John Barleycorn, John Wilkes Booth … But, no, maybe that last one brings it too close to the edge.
Then I thought maybe the opposite tack would work — take Donald Trump and transform him, make an anagram of him, rearrange him like the Replicator in Star Wars or the Omega 13 in Galaxy Quest. OK, it’s just a diversion, but it gave me hours of exhausting pleasure:
DUMP OLD RANT … DAMP OLD RUNT
LOP DAMN TURD … MAD LORD, PUNT
PORN-MAD ‘DULT … DOLT AND RUMP
PRAT, DUN, MOLD … DONALD TRUMP
Try it. Start simple (MIKE PENCE = PEEK MINCE). It’s word therapy and it works. And let me know what you come up with. I’ve scarcely had a printable comment in years.