Monday, April 2, 2018

I'm a Lot Like Donald Trump

3 Quarks Daily  by Akim Reinhardt April 02, 2018


There are, of course, many ways in which I am nothing like Donald Trump. I do not publicly berate subordinates. I never drink Diet Coke. I am not a piece of human filth. I have not run for president, especially in a state of gross unpreparedness and unqualification.

But it should go without saying that any decent human being is, in many ways, not much like Donald Trump. Indeed, it is so obvious, that to even mention one's dissimilarities from The Donald is not only unenlightening but likely self-serving.

Much more interesting, I believe, is to consider the ways in which you really are quite similar to someone you find repugnant, to someone who is broken beyond repair, to someone you have absolutely no respect for whatsoever. Because when you acknowledge those features you hold in common with a disgusting, heinous wretch who fouls the earth with his very existence, then you can begin to penetrate your most obscure attributes, peel back your complex layers, and really learn something about yourself.

A well examined life cannot be lived amid self-congratulation or comfort. We can only discover our true selves by embarking upon difficult journeys to our inner souls and by confronting our deepest unpleasantries. Be happy and modest about any common ground you may stand upon with the hero. But know thyself when you turn to the mirror and chance upon fleeting glimpses of the villain. It is in that spirit of deep self-scrutiny that I must confess: I'm a lot like Donald Trump. Let me count the ways.

Like Donald Trump, I too have small hands. This has at times affected my self-esteem and created practical problems. I cannot palm a basketball. I cannot play a 10th on a piano. When I flip someone the bird, it lacks a certain flash and menace. At one point I tried to convince myself that my palms were average size, and it was merely my fingers that were short. The same, I thought, was true of my feet and toes (size 8.5 US). It was difficult, but I've since moved on and accepted that my hands and feet are simply small for a grown man of European descent. I'm over it. And so while I share with Trump the plague of diminutive appendages, I am different from him in that I no longer let it define me or diminish my self worth. That, and I do not have a ridiculously small penis.

Like Donald Trump, I am a New Yorker, born and bred in the outer boroughs. The Bronx, not Queens, but from a native Manhattanite's point of view, it's all the same. We are urban but not urbane. 

We are metropolitan but not cosmopolitan. We have no access to yellow cabs. We ride the subway longer. We do not live amid world class museums or concert halls. We had our 212 area code ruthlessly stripped from us. No one moves, pie eyed, to New York City with our neighborhoods in mind. But unlike Donald Trump, this has not saddled me with insecurities. I've never striven to live in Manhattan. The closest I ever came was in my early twenties when I considered moving into a Chelsea flophouse. It was all I could afford, but I turned it down. I decided that at the age of 25, with a $10/hour job (off the books), I'd rather not share a bathroom with a dozen other residents. So instead I just remained in the Bronx.

I moved around the country afterwards and have been in Baltimore since 2001. I now find the thought of living in Manhattan to be a bit silly; from where I stand, that borough is being gutted of its charm. The working classes have been completely banished from living below 125th Street. The tenements and railroad flats once occupied by regular working folk, like the Hell's Kitchen apartment my great grandparents used to live in, have been repackaged as absurdly overpriced co-ops and luxury rentals. The small businesses that made the place truly special are evaporating as more and more storefronts are gobbled up by banks, chain drug stores, fast food, and corporate syndicates pretending to offer local fare. And for many actual New Yorkers, such as many of my family and friends, not the rich kids and financiers who now largely populate Manhattan, the island is increasingly nothing more than a place to commute to or catch a show. There are no more $10/hour nooks in most of Manhattan, even with a shared bathroom; one would have to be far wealthier than I to live there now, or sacrifice far too much to hunker down in that noisy, congested place. And even if I had the money, I can't imagine anything more boring or pointless than settling there. It's done.

Unless you're Donald Trump. In which case it shall forever be the holy grail of elite salvation from which you must continually drink, the divine realm of status that you are compelled to invade and crassly conquer in order to salvage what's left of your mouldering self-worth.

Like Donald Trump, I too occasionally enjoy some pornography. I'm not going to justify it. Stating so publicly is a confession, not a boast. I sometimes like to watch people do stuff, either to themselves or each other. I don't watch it often, but that's rather besides the point. Simply put, there is something buried within me that likes it, and that would not change even if I never watched any of it again. It is simply part of my sexuality, and in that sense is beyond my control.

However, unlike Donald Trump, I'm not trying to fuck actual porn stars so that I can alternately brag/lie about it. And that's not in anyway to cast shade on porn actors. Perfectly fine people, I suppose. But I don't move in their circles and have never met one, so it stands to reason that I've never had sex with one. So be it. I've also never met, much less had sex with a brain surgeon, a crane operator, or a sorghum farmer. You can add them, and porn actors, to the long list of professionals I've never encountered or had sex with. And I'm okay with that. Nothing against any of those folks, but you can't fuck everyone, now can you? And I have no cause to fetishize the idea of having sex with any of them, so that's that. More generally though, I really don't want to brag about having fucked anyone, and absolutely don't want to lie about it. However, if there were ever one person who, after having sex with, I would pay six figures in hush money, and then sue for $20,000,000 for going public, it wouldn't be a porn actor. It would be Donald Trump. I really wouldn't want anyone to know I had sex with him.

Fortunately, I have not yet had sex with Donald Trump. Little fingers crossed.

Like Donald Trump, I am a property owner. I even have a marble tiled bathroom floor; I got the tiles for free when my father's landlord had some leftover after renovating his own home some years back. There weren't a lot of them, but then again my water closet is quite small. So The Donald and I both own property that features at least some marble. However, I have not named my property, a modest brick/stucco row home built in 1900, after myself. I do not refer to it as Reinhardt Tower, and I certainly haven't splashed my name across the front in enormous gold letters because, after all, that's just about the silliest thing a person can do. And I don't mean silly as in some old Monty Python skit about cheese or funny walks, but silly as in, you're a silly little man, pathetic, really, and your actions reflect the work of vicious, ravenous demons that are eating away at your soul.

The truth is, I don't actually have anything golden in my house at all, although I did used to paint the steam pipes and leg bracings of a small kitchen table in my immigrant grandmother's Bronx apartment gold, at her request. Working with gold paint is difficult because it's very thin and watery. You have to use fine brush technique and control. Don't overload the bristles with paint, and rigorously stay on top of your drips, because they will run like inspired voters to the polls in 2018, desperately seeking to halt your agenda.

Like Donald Trump, I have a university affiliation. Fortunately for me, however, it is not with a for-profit sham school called Reinhardt University. Because if it were, I would probably find myself in the same circumstances as many of those associated with Trump University: out of a job, losing court battles, and facing the wrath of ripped off students demanding refunds. Which is not to say none of my students at the modest state college where I teach did not also wish they were entitled to a refund after enduring one of my more somnolent lectures. But alas, if they were able to stay awake, they might have actually learned something other than not to trust ugly, orange charlatans from the outer boroughs.

Like Donald Trump, I too dream of Donald Trump. Just the other night, a vision emerged during my sleeping hours. I worked for Donald Trump. Like all of his employees, I was something of a lackey. "Secretary," I believe, is the word he used. But of course, taking notes and tending to his schedule were only the most cursory parts of the job. In truth, my real task was to prop up flagging his self-esteem. To affirm his goofy self-pronouncements, or at least to standby silently and not challenge them. To be an audience that, during any dispute, would take his side, even if only by implication. This is what he was paying me for.

And so I dutifully caddied his umbrella and kept his appointments as he trundled from one garish, old person hangout to the next, everywhere vacillating between wild braggadocio and morbid brooding, a man who used all his fuel to convince others, and most importantly himself, of his unparalleled greatness and his irrefutable right to stand shoulder to shoulder among the New Gilded Age elite, until he was spent and had nothing left but the horrible truth, which dampened his voice, like a man whose wailing is drowned out by a thunderous storm and he finally surrenders to drenched silence.

My dreams of Donald Trump, I suspect, are very much like his own. Close your eyes, and in the darkness be revealed.

Like Donald Trump, Akim Reinhardt has a website and a Twitter handle. Unlike Donald Trump, his website will not try to sell you MAGA hats, and he never, ever uses Twitter to fire cabinet members.

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