It’s Cold Out There

It’s really cold out there.

Maybe not if you live in Chicago, Omaha or Missoula. When I lived in Chicago’s Albany Park, I thought that temperatures hovering around freezing were normal. That changed when we moved to the Golden State where any temperature under 72 brings out my thermals, gloves and stocking hats. You adapt to your surroundings.

My established routine changed when Covid-19 became an entrenched intruder on my otherwise happy life. In addition to altered eating, shopping and travel habits, I was forced to change my scheduled visits to the gym. To accommodate my trainer, Robert, 8am sessions were moved to 7am. An early riser anyway, it was no big deal in the summer…until the days grew shorter and walking to the gym in bright sunshine gave way to utter darkness.

It was like that this December morning. Up before six, dressed in an overpriced Patagonia jacket, head covered with my favorite pulldown cap, and with Apple Air Pods protruding from my prominent ears, I began my twenty-minute slog in inky blackness.

Spotify’s music from my iPhone cascades brilliantly through the Air Pods and obliterates most of the ambient noise. I can still hear the rare oncoming car as I walk against the traffic but I continually wonder if I can be seen by the random driver who may not be fully awake. Even at 20 miles per hour, the passing car reminds me that I am no competition for a two-ton block of oncoming metal.

The 42-degree walk accompanied by songs that have weathered the years is delightful. The still dark homes along my route have become familiar. The same cars with familiar license plates are parked at the curb. Little along the way draws my interest…except for the house on Fox Street.

I am nearing my destination when the house appears on my left. It’s like many homes on the street; old, clad in clapboard, needing some paint, with cars and other discarded memorabilia strewn about in its grassless yard.

A ten-foot-long banner is nailed on the front of the house above the door. “God Bless President Trump” fills the entire banner. American flags festoon much of the rest of the wall; they have, like other violations committed by our current president, hung unlit through the night. I’m sure the banner has been displayed with pride since Trump’s 2016 election. 

The 2020 election threatened the future of the Fox Street banner. During the first two weeks after the election, I expected to see a blank space where the garish banner had hung so long. It is now four weeks after the election and it is still there; I believe it will remain as a stark reminder until well after Covid-19 has departed.

The porch over which the banner hangs is populated with a few weathered chairs, a wicker table on which I imagined a half-empty can of Budweiser, a cigarette stub filled ashtray and the remains of yesterday’s half-eaten tuna sandwich.

I saw the homeowner only once as I walked past his home a month before the election. He was a bit younger than me, robust and seemingly in good health. He took the initiative by offering me a sincere “Good morning” and, other than the Trumpian banner overhead, showed no evidence of political bias.  I was surprised by his welcoming demeanor and a bit chagrined by my unsupportable vision of his wicker tabletop.

I wondered why this amiable guy would choose to display the outsized Trumpian banner for years, while the rest of us were satisfied with much smaller curbside pronouncements of our political bias, and then only for a month or so.

Why was his banner still staring at me when my political buddies had already junked theirs?

The answer was revealed to me this morning as I read Mark Danner’s article in the New York Review of Books. It chronicles Mark’s attendance at Trump’s September 10 campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan. Trump launched into his speech before thousands by claiming, “We brought you a lot of car plants, Michigan! We brought you a lot of car plants. You know that, right?”

This was followed by an earsplitting roar of affirmation: Yes, Mr. President, we know that!

But what was true, and perhaps unknown to those at the rally, was that no new car plants had been built in Michigan since Trump began his presidency. What was true was that three thousand Michiganders have lost their jobs in the auto industry. What was true was that it didn’t matter what was true. What was true was, if Trump says it, it must be true.

And so, if Trump says the election was rigged, it must be true. Even when he leaves the White House on January 20, there will be millions of Americans who will believe he was cheated by the elites, the dark side, paper ballots, immigrants, and people who are not like them.

And that’s why that banner will hang on that nice man’s porch, in the cold, forever.

4 Responses to “It’s Cold Out There”


  1. 1 jackielakshmi December 6, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    You are so talented !
    You can make the most appalling situation funny and interesting !
    What a wonderful description of the small house on Fox St!
    Love you❤️

    Like

  2. 2 Leila Kleiman December 7, 2020 at 10:35 am

    and I thought my neighbor down the street was the only one. how foolish of me.

    Like

  3. 3 David Rothenberg December 8, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    sung to the tune of 3 blind mice:

    Trump, trump, trump.

    Trump, trump, trump.

    He’s quite a deranged egotist.

    I hope he gets a cancerous cyst.

    For most of us he won’t be missed.

    Trump, Trump, Trump.

    Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




Pages

Archives

Recent Comments


%d bloggers like this: