When she wakes up most afternoons these days, Peggy Noonan finds herself drowning in a demitasse of her own malaise. Nay, it’s not simply that her houseboy Manuel keeps teasing her by hiding the sort of pills that turn her frown upside down on the top shelf in the butler’s pantry — “uppers,” she’s pretty sure Schoolchildren These Days call them. Manuel will be fired for this, of course. Except … He’s been with her all these years, and who among us can’t benefit from a pinch of mirth, a childlike prank, in these dark days?
The presidential election has gotteneth her down in the dumps. “Margaret Ellen!” she says, for she uses her first and middle name when she’s scolding herself. “Get it together! You are a Republican, and you will vote for the Republican, like you always do, and the Grande Olde Party will recover from this … unsavory … Donald Trump!” But lo, she did not believe the voices in her head. Her therapist said it wasn’t the best idea to do that. So she grabbed her quill pen, dipped it into an open bottle of Sazerac and chewed on it while she brainstormed her latest column for the Wall Street Journal news-paper.
“Look, he’s a nut,” she typed, “and you know he’s a nut.” She could hear that still small voice, chiding her for committing the sin of name-calling. Why, she was behaving like a common townspeople! As she worried about what a “nut” that terrible Trump boy is, Peggy remembered how much she likes nuts, especially the foreign exotic nuts Manuel brings her from the bodega, where the precious and whimsical immigrants work. She reminded herself to fill her Thermos with gin so she could carry her cheque-book down to that bodega on her own later that day, to buy some of those nuts. Manuel deserves the day off every now and then, does he not?
Peggy continued writing:
[H]e’s not a grizzled general who bears on his face the scars of a British sword, and not a shining citizen-patriot. He’s a screwball. Do you need examples? You do not, because you’re already thinking of them. For a year you’ve been observing the TV funhouse that is his brain.
What filth was emanating from Peggy’s fingers, what insults! Was the boorish Donald Trump rubbing off on her genteel spirit? Had she been reading too much of that adorably naughty Wonkette website that teases her so? Whither this vulgarity seeping into her soul?
Sudden onset vapors didst overcome Peggy, so she retired to the floor of her parlor, where, teetering between her normal waking state of semi-consciousness and sleep, she began to have Imagination Time:
What if there had been a Sane Donald Trump?
Oh my God, Sane Trump would have won in a landslide.
“Lose yourself in the comforting, beautiful pictures in your mind,” her therapist would say. “Lose yourself!” So she did. Peggy imagined a Donald Trump who smiles a little bit more, who speaks in elegant, flowery sentences, and who whispers sweet nothings into the ears of Dignified Republicans such as herself:
[He] would have said, “Come into my tent. It’s a new one, I admit, but it’s yuge and has gold faucets and there’s a place just for you. What do you need? That I be less excitable and dramatic? Done. That I not act, toward women, like a pig? Done, and I accept your critique. That I explain the moral and practical underpinnings of my stand on refugees from terror nations? I’d be happy to. My well-hidden secret is that I love everyone and hear the common rhythm of their beating hearts.”
Swirling ’round and ’round in Imagination Land, the hologram of Donald Trump merged with Jesus Christ and also Tony from West Side Story, and Peggy didn’t know where this hallucination was taking her, but she liked it. My father’s house has many rooms! There’s a place for us! Somewhere! Someday! WE’LL FIND A NEW WAY OF LIVING! WE’LL FIND A WAY OF FORGIVING! SOME-WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE!
Peggy realized she was no longer lying on the floor. She was DANCING! Up and down her gallery she went, her toes light as a ballerina … but who was this dashing man twirling her? Had the charming, elegant Sane Jesus Trump Christ of her imagination come to life to sweep her away forever?
Sane Donald Trump for president.
First I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes!
Something jabbed Peggy in the eye, jarring her into sobriety. “Where am I? Who am I? Have I eaten anything this week?” She stumbled to her typewriter to put the finishing touch on her column:
Too bad he doesn’t exist.
Peggy Noonan had been waltzing with her coat rack. Again.