“…but will the morning headlines even say that it’s a shame?”
They’re all liars, she told me, all of them. While we had spoken a few times, only through text, in the years since things had come apart violently, I finally chipped away at Jennifer enough for a phone call. Years had passed, and maybe the resulting body image issues- collateral damage from getting off on calling her fat- had faded enough for the sound of my voice to be somewhat less nauseating. Or maybe it was the mid-August blues; five months into quarantine and just about any option seems great- a fact that I greatly benefitted from over the summer- but even if I had been excited to catch up with Jennifer formally, this wasn’t what I was expecting.
It was only a few years prior, the summer of 2018, where she had told me to “fuck off” on account of how she could “fuck anyone she wanted” and wouldn’t consider wasting her time “fucking me”- a point I half-heartedly attempted contesting but would ultimately concede. If I could fuck anyone, I wouldn’t be spending time doing any of this shit- dear reader, you’d be the one “fucking off.”
But, luckily for us all, I need this and I need you- desperately– so here we are together. I never flew too close to the sun because I never had the option- eternally shackled to hell’s version of Marley’s chains: the curse of the average man. But the average single woman in her thirties won’t feel the swirled cocktail of gift and curse that sexual restrictions bring and will typically indulge in ways that’d make her bright-eyed twenty-four year old self blush like she’s at Plato’s Retreat.
Jennifer was at the end of this ride- spent all her tickets on the log flume at Adventureland, and even if she had a great time, now she had to sit in her wet jeans on the ride home- they’re all liars.
The election didn’t come up this time around. Four years prior it may as well have been foreplay. Deliberate triggering and antagonization. The last time a presidential election will feel significant; subversive; defining. What we had before us was space to make our own. Space for like-minded people to feel less lonely; less disconnected. There were people like us all around, quietly noticing things about the broken modern world- buzz like a Bethesda message board on the first day of release. Coming together and creating energy that was impossible to ignore; madness in every direction: blogs and memes, even better than our wildest dreams. A decentralized, meritocratic culture war was one we could win. This was our time and we weren’t going to let it get away. Our time, where fucking Jennifer while wearing a Trump hat felt significant- subversive and defining.
There was a definite thrill to having sex in a Trump hat- of conquering and winning. Part of the energy wave that we created together- each contributing a fraction-of-a-fraction until it took on its own electro-magnetic momentum; one that we were able to tap into on the back end like a perpetual motion machine- bumps of highly potent, 140-character at-a-time good shit.
We had won the election- we beat the establishment; David kicking Goliath in the balls; Little Mac knocking Super Macho Man the fuck out. We were all Ricky Vaughn and Ricky Vaughn was emblematic of us all. We could fuck anyone we wanted, at least spiritually; symbolically.
The crest of a high and beautiful wave.
They’re all liars is probably what she wasn’t expecting- but like the song quote Ellis used to set up Less Than Zero (1985), “this is the game that moves as you play,” and, more often than not, faster than you’re able to notice. While she’s screwing Mr. Exciting- the guy she knows will never commit- she’s betting the house on the idea that those who are less exciting will be there for her when she’s done sowing the last bits of her post-divorce wild oats. The real shock hits when Mr. Dependable starts playing games too, and the only way he knows how- the long con- pedal boats and wineries; boring, limp-dick sex that she has to grit her teeth through just to say she has a boyfriend- and then he treats her like shit all the same.
The election didn’t come up this time with Jennifer because the energy had already dissipated. The game’s been rigged with the conclusion forgone- this wasn’t what we were expecting. Biden will stand as a puppet for the neo-liberal world order; Ricky Vaughn in hand-cuffs. This was the end of the beginning- a comfort to Jennifer who was someone outside of Internet culture; who liked Marvel movies and sharing memes about Mondays; who had thought that as long as there was a woman present in places where decisions were being made, all was right in the world. That as long as we send the orange man packing, we can resume a life of corporate approved consumer experiences- and with our pictures on all the requisite dating apps, we can become the product- for all the liars to consume.