What I Learned At My First Trump Rally
The first thing you notice is the smell. It hits you like a slap. An olfactory cocktail so note-perfect similar to, of all things, a waffle house, that the smell–the smells, coffee, sugar, grease, people who have been sitting too long in trucks–makes you shield your eyes, as if there was too much sun in the room.
As quickly as I could I tried to face-hustle back into something I felt best resembled the kind of people amongst whom I hoped to spend the evening. The kind of people that show up at 7 o’clock on a Tuesday in Pennsawtuckett, Carolina, to handle the invisible snakes of the right’s cresting authoritarian wave: taxes are illegal, Mexico is illegal, everyone now legally has to make a duck kissy face all the time. Trump people. Toilet people. I made a shitty duck face, said, “I’m a big boy, OK? I know what to do”, and sat down.
No one paid me the least bit’s notice. I’d driven down in my very not Trump car, wearing my very not Trump clothes, but I’d parked behind a WalMart and rolled around quietly in a gully with a tire in it on the long walk over.
I was holding a red toy plastic sand shovel. I showed it moronically to anyone with a catchable eye.
“This is the shovel Donald will bury liberals with,” I said. “I’m rich.”
“I hear that” murmured a dimwit in agreement, turning back around.
“I want to spray foreigners with caustic liquid,” I whispered. “Because of the economy.”
A stupid woman, trim, snapping gum, looking for all the world like a Waffle House waitress–straight out of central casting–swam into sight. “How are you, sugar?” she asked.
“I’m pissed off.” I said, tapping the shovel on my thigh. “I’m pissed the eff off.”
“OK darlin’,” she said, “you go right on ahead bein’ pissed off.”
Anger lingered on the air. I could smell it, like a rabbit smelling hounds. I soaked in it. Every idiotic conversation revolved around it like planets orbiting a star.
To my left a dull-looking man in his 60s spoke to his wife as she sipped and blew on her coffee. “Barb, I knew better’n to try’n install the fuckin’ dim switch without flipping the breaker first. Damn near melted my god damn hand to the shitter wall.”
I leaned across and affected my best idiotic drawl. “Electricity is from when Eve fucked a snake.”
The waitress-looking woman came back. “Sure I can’t get you anything?”
“I was just talking about God fucked a snake,” I whispered, “and now we are atomized wanderers who must resist the urge to commune with anything except the Absent Father.”
“Coffee? Water?” she persisted.
“I want to hit things. I hate people.” I pointed to the giant waffle on the plate of the man in the booth across the aisle from me. “I’m the same as that. I’m here to chant slogans. We must destroy weakness.”
Stillness, eyes on me.
“I’m racist. The more dark a person’s skin is the worse they are. I believe this.”
The waitress put a cup of coffee into my hand. Barb picked a leaf out of my hair and patted me on the shoulder.
“Thank you,” I said, standing. “I left my wallet in my car. I’ll be right back. Jewish people are secretly reptiles.”
I ran out into the morning air, heaving breath. I’d left my shovel. It was a long, cold walk back to the gulley, and even further to my car. I shrieked the whole way insanely loudly. I gesticulated wildly and made sounds I’d last heard cruel teens make as they mocked a peer.
“Duh, buh buhhh, me like Trump, buh bbbuh.” I shouted. I found my hatchback.
As I climbed in, I realized I was still holding that cup of coffee. A thick white porcelain anachronism with a waffle house logo on the side.
I threw it at WalMart and pointed my car north.