October drapes gauzy cobwebs, witches’ broomsticks through well-groomed trees. Pumpkin lanterns bob along fencetops. Children in “go go” boots prance in costumes, gleaming “tattoo” stickers pasted on arms. Gargoyles, ghosts, and scarecrows are out of closets longing to be the scariest, wildest one of all.
That role is filled. I need no eerie celebration of suspense. I tap the nightmare apps, go to sleep. Last night’s opener had a chilly voice saying, “There won’t be Thanksgiving this year.” The voice of a school monitor: “Thanksgiving is over.” October used to be the quiet month, the time to stay inside and read by the fireplace. Thanksgiving was the savory, gentle non-denominational holiday, where the East Coast family would come to celebrate Harvest, the idea of gratitude for the land. However, this November guarantees no visions of peace and gathering together.
Haunted now by the No on Thanksgiving proposition, the next nightmare sent me shopping for flowers to bring my son’s family. Of course, they would still have Thanksgiving. I’d bring burgundy sienna and gold chrysanthemums. The dream’s barren unsteady street was made of curious tracks. The flower shop at the end, next to a shuttered bookshop, had no branches of autumn leaves, no chrysanthemums, no golden lilies. But there were hampers of long-stemmed sweet peas. “These are spring flowers,” I tell the longhaired blonde girl in the shop. “They won’t do for Thanksgiving.”
“Thanksgiving’s dust,” she says with a smile.
“The flowers don’t smell sweet—or at all!”
“No. They don’t need to. Smell is so last year.”
I turned away. The bookstore was being pulled out by its roots on an iron hoist. I woke up.
Like the ghosts drifting above suburban front yards (does anyone see front yards behind the security gates?) there’s been a pall throughout the Land—we have created a Monster to take the stage—as the Kardashians and so forth have taken over the TV. Is this some mode the Networks have created? A ratings war, a circus, a floor show, a bullring? The Hard Right declares it wants America back as it was. Really? Then get rid of the techno-robots which have taken away the jobs. That is what no one talks about. There could be lots of jobs. But everyone wants the big jobs. The Lives of TV families: funny, wild scenes with okay endings every night. And the house you live in is always there.
But now the sun is rising. It has been Halloween forever. The Hoaxster promises treats, bagsful of jobs. The tricks will come. You’ll see; he dangles whimsies and promises of jobs—but we need no more hotels and casinos. The clever billionaires have designed a program of extinction, just as the auto industry and oil companies created the End of the World for the Horses, who once held proud positions on the planet. As did the elephant (which was why the Republicans chose it.) Now, in Thailand, where elephants, thousands of them, worked the deforestation program, the elephants are out of work. Instead of going with a where-do-we-go-from-here depression like some horses I’ve seen, the elephants, I learned, from a brilliant documentary, have gone mad; they’re violent, raging, raging “against the dying of the light.” Every kid learned to care for these family animals once.
However, the Technopolies will not inherit the Earth. They are killing it, even as they design the space pods where they’ll exist in their rabid disconnection. Like the Americans who believe in this creature who defines their rage with every expression. He is the face of terror, the face of the bitter victim, the feudal mode of a Fifties brute, the garish bully stamping on the cafeteria tables. He clenches the empty clamshells of his hands. Offers plenty—but cannot give us chowder.
Fear drapes me in ghost cloak. I am powerless over the media’s grim show. No measured voices. As archaic bullies watched boxers, so I watch CNN’s dreadful little blonde Trumpette, to raise my indignation to the perfect level of confidence required to slice and tailor her costume of fearless hostility dumbed up with just a frill of lissom insecurity. Exactly the look.
Tonight will be a feast of terror. I hunger for the balance of our once-honored system. I heard it in Hillary’s speech at the end of the Al Smith Dinner and every word the Obamas say. Let’s pretend Halloween’s over. Yeah. And agree to have a real Thanksgiving: Let’s say this was all a sort of Game of Thrones and we’re giving Barak and Michelle a third term with an open-minded Congress. And Hillary will be on the Supreme Court. Yeah. I knew it was only a Nightmare.