There’s a guy in a yoga class I like to go to who is, like me, a faithful practitioner.
Probably I’ve known him for ten years in the way one knows people at yoga. The eight years of Obama, the two years before that which in retrospect seems like a sylvan time (relatively).
Everything now for me, and for most everyone I know, is a matter of before and after. The word prelapsarian just about says it all.
Before the fall of man (and woman) though it doesn’t mention the woman part in any dictionary I can find.
This guy has a beautiful practice, one he obviously takes very seriously. He comes into the studio, nips into the men’s dressing area, takes off his jeans, coils his luxuriant chestnut hair that falls down his back into a ballerina bun on top of his head. He reappears in an outfit I can only describe as a sort of adult one-sie. Unlike a baby one-sie, the chest is bare (and hairy), it doesn’t fasten at the crotch, and there are little thin straps. It’s kind of a combination one-sie and over-all made of some knit material. He has them in blue, black, red and green. Out on the street in his jeans with his long hair and beard, he looks like your basic long-haired beefcake. In his one-sie, however, he looks truly strange. Once years ago, when I saw him outside of class, I told him I liked his yoga outfits (because I do). He smiled and told me, “I make them myself.”
Why do I like his odd get-ups? He and they symbolize everything I love about having gotten away from a small town upbringing where a guy with long hair and a beard to this day, wouldn’t be all that comfortable being seen in public with his hair in a ballerina bun, wearing a one-sie made by his own hand.
In my neck of the woods, he can come to class and nobody bats an eye, anymore than eyes are batted when celebrities walk down the streets, or occasionally come to class, it’s part of the culture, part of the scene, we’re all cool, we get it.
The world according to the new regime never will get it. Because they don’t want to get it. They don’t want to yield power they feel they have already lost. Why male power somehow must be linked to control over women is a major problem in my book. But that’s the bottom line: the men get to tell the women what to do, when to do it, and with whom. Men are men. They wear suits, (not one-sies) and women, nice women don’t sleep around, (only men get to do that) and should be punished for pleasure, should smile and always be pleasing to the eye—the male eye—that is beholding them.
Our president elect ran on just such a platform and won. Against a woman, of course.
I was talking about this the other night at a party with a female a little older than my son. I asked her how she supposed just such a man won the presidency.
“Were you surprised?”
“No, not really.”
“Neither was I,” I replied. “But I grew up in the south and I’m more than twenty years older than you.”
“A lot of my friends,” she said. “Read the fifty shades book. Did you?”
“No,” I replied again. “A good friend of mine almost dropped me on account of my sarcastic remarks about that book, this was way before Trump, tell me what’s the connection?”
“The guy in the book, I can’t remember his name, gets to dominate her completely. He’s super rich, he’s super controlling, he ties her up, she’s his special one—and she’s a virgin. It’s his way one hundred percent!”
“I didn’t know the heroine in the book was a virgin,” I replied softly, really in awe of what she said. “But it makes sense.”
Gentle reader, think about it. The fifty shades book explains the 51 percent of the women in this country who voted for Trump.
“Thank you!” I told my younger friend. “You made my day.”
And she did. And she didn’t.
R, who cleans my house once a week, is scared. I told her a couple of weeks ago that he wasn’t going to win and she looked relieved and told me that’s what everyone she works for had told her as well. Mes Patricia, Mes Jenny, Mes this one and that one. I’m sure she still refers to me as Mes Mary to other people even though I have tried to break her of this depressing habit. I remember when people who worked in the house had to call the white folk with the respectful Miz or Mr. before the name.
I don’t want that in my house.
Today, when R unlocked the door she was wide-eyed. I was gone last week right after the election, so it was the first time I’d seen her since the world fell apart for fortunate liberals like myself and less fortunate household workers like R and her family, who have lived here, worked here, paid their dues in every sense of the word and are now scared out of their minds that the wall is going up, and they are out on their butts.
Will this happen? I hope not. If it happens what are people like myself going to do? Will we just stand by and let this happen?
How do “they” plan to implement this? Myself, I am here in America because on my maternal Grandmother’s side, a kindly priest told my Great Grandfather who was a scholar and someone who corrected the Torah, that there was going to be a pogrom. He packed up his family and was gone in a week. All of them. I don’t know any other details other than this.
Yet I am curious about the details. I know, for instance, a little bit of how the Final Solution happened in Eastern Europe. Lists were obtained from (ugh) places like the Jewish Social Service agencies (we know this thanks to scholars like Lucy Davidawitz and Hannah Arendt). Names were turned over, doors were knocked on, people were rounded up. And 90 percent of Jews, gypsies and other undesirables in Europe went up in smoke.
I don’t think “they” are planning anything like a final solution to the immigration problem in this country. But “they” are planning something. We are watching it happen before our very eyes. And most of us, including myself, are doing nothing but wringing our hands.
People I know are marching on Washington. People I know are blabbing on Facebook. People I know are tweeting, going to demonstrations. But as far as I know, no one has come up with a solution from our end.
“They” meanwhile are planning on doing something. What that something is, I don’t rightly know.
R and I are standing in the small front hallway of my house. Henry is jumping up and down barking because he knows when R comes the vacuum cleaner will be on and he hates the sound of the vacuum cleaner more than he hates the sound of a skateboard. Usually we just flee for the morning, my fortunate dog and myself.
“I’m so scared, Mes Mary,” says R. “My daughter she say, what we going to do mommy?”
What are we going to do?
“I’ll help you,” I say, and as we stand there with Henry barking, I realize I will help her. But how much will I help her? I honestly do not know.
Will I hide her and her family? Yes, I decide on the spot, though I don’t say anything. I imagine her moving in my tiny little casa. They can stay in the two rooms downstairs, and we’ll stay upstairs. Henry will learn not to bark at them so much. And we’ll just deal with it. We’ll just deal with it because we have to.
I’ll also, I decide, give her money. But how much money? Like my house, my bank account is small. I can just hear my husband saying, “Marcus, for the love of God—“
I look her in the eye. Henry has calmed down by this point. I take this as a good sign. The front hall is as quiet as a church when no one is praying.
“I’ll help you. We’ll figure it out! I promise!”
R puts one hand on her heart. I clasp the other one.
Our eyes lock, our hands squeeze each other.
I think of the famous lines from The Ethics of the Fathers:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I
And, if not now, when?
I received this email from my friend in England. Diana Francis an international Mediator for Peace and author of the book, People Peace and Power. If all of us were more like Diana, not only would the world be a better place, we would be surely happier, healthier and more sane. And we’d have a different leader of the free world. Read Diana’s book—essential for this crazy time! In fact, let’s all read more, and watch TV less. Our frenzy for the screen got us into this mess in the first place. At least that’s my small opinion.
I wrote more of Diana’s wisdom into a blog post about Memorial Day this year. Find it here, “Memorial Day.”
Just to say that we are thinking of you, Mary. It must feel as if the sky has fallen. It feels pretty awful here, so it’s hard to imagine how terrible it is for you.
However, more of you didn’t want this outcome, so all is not lost. I hope it will augment the energy to take things in a more humane direction.
With love from Nico and me,