Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Can Make You Happy

A short story by Jan Alexander

An undisclosed location in New Mexico, 2027

Welcome to New Pathways.  My name is Sonia Delarosa. I’m the founder of this workshop.   I’m 43 years old, and I’m a happy person.  Stroll around here and you’ll see lots of others who are happy.  You can identify our graduates by their “Trump Pride” buttons and their smiles. You’re here because you’re liberals and you think you can’t bear another day of President Trump’s reign. But you’ll learn that even you can re-educate yourself, with some help from me.
Ten years ago, I was miserable too. In fact, I wept uncontrollably on the New York subway that day in January, 2017 when President Trump was inaugurated.  I thought this can’t really be happening.  No doubt you all felt the same way—otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
That’s right, I was one of the last of the working people living in New York and burrowing underground like a gopher every day, before the city became the first Trumpistan, Inc.  Real Estate Investment Zone for global billionaires looking to diversify their holdings and was closed off to fulltime residents.  Back when I lived in New York I was an aspiring writer making what we used to call a creative salary—that’s a joke, I see you get it. I worked at a magazine and in my spare time I was writing the novel that was going save humanity.
So that day of the inauguration, I was on the subway and all around me were other young liberals on their way home to Brooklyn—and I wasn’t the only one sobbing.  There we were, a subway car full of people with advanced degrees in literature, sociology and history making less money than the managers at our neighborhood Starbucks. We started talking. We all thought President Trump was going to mow down the crumbling brick walkups where we lived.  We feared he was going to deport people because of their religion and get the country into a war we could never win. And we dreaded, absolutely dreaded, having to look at his disgusting face everywhere. The sneer.  The peroxided- balding-Elvis hairdo, the albino rhinoceros-in-pancake-makeup face.   Someone drew a cartoon of his sneer and passed it around. 
Now, though, when I see my President sneering I feel nothing but pride.  All of my early predictions came true, but I’ve stopped blaming Trump and learned to love him.  You’re going to love him too, by the time you graduate from my workshop.  
I see from your applications that a lot of you came here from Detroit.  I lived there too—it seemed like the only place to go after a bomb demolished my apartment building. At the time I thought my life was over;  I was one of the many poor but hip New Yorkers who was sure it was a Trump conspiracy when the bombs went off in the New York Times building, and then in the old residential buildings all over Manhattan and Brooklyn.  I believed, sincerely believed, that the bombers were just hired thugs disguised in kuffiyehs so they’d look like Muslims.  Remember the rumors that it was all a master plan to get the war started and incidentally wipe out the affordable housing?  I was furious—I walked around gnashing my teeth and sobbing and wishing I had a gun so I could destroy the guilty parties—when luxury towers rose up, with armed guards around Manhattan and Brooklyn, and there was nowhere to live in the outer boroughs because they were all combat zones.     I heard that the whole Muslim family who’d run a store on my corner back in Brooklyn had disappeared, and I blamed Trump. Just as  I blamed him when Shiites and Sunnis, jihadists and moderates from all over the world managed to find a united cause, attacking our country.
I was still screaming about conspiracy in 2020—I was convinced it was yet more hired thugs who planted the bomb that killed Elizabeth Warren after she won the election that year. Especially when President Trump made his big announcement and said, “This is war, my friends. Have you noticed the enemy has invaded and no one is safe? Until we kill off every single one of the enemy, democracy takes a back seat.  I’m going to remain the President and the Commander in Chief. Because no one else is tough enough.”  
By then, I’d settled in Detroit, and things started to get worse for me. There weren’t many jobs for writers unless you were willing to work for the Trump and Adelson-owned media, which I wasn’t. So I got a job making lattes for minimum wage—and you remember how all the minimum wage earners started disappearing after Trump created the private-sector Trumpistan Police, Inc.  in 2021? They didn’t publicize their new laws at first, and there were all kinds of offenses that no one knew were crimes until they were charged.  
I was a week late with my rent, and the Trumpistan Police came after me. So there I was in a place they called a reform camp. But that awful place was where I saw the light.
Everybody in the camp was poor.  All their crimes were failure to pay some bill or another. We didn’t have showers or plumbing and it stank of filthy bodies and stale urine.  We got watered-down macaroni and cheese once a day,  and a lot of inmates were so hungry they stole food from the officers’ mess hall—we’d hear shots in the night and figure someone else had been caught trying to steal food.  We also had these daily intake sessions with police social workers.  My social worker said to me, kind of shouting and sneering, like they’d all been trained to do, “Oh, so you have a masters of fine arts?” By then, of course, MFA programs had been banned on the evidence that they caused poverty.
The social worker asked me, “What do you think of your bunkmates?”
One of my bunkmates was a woman who weighed 280 pounds and had snake tattoos that undulated when she moved because there was so much loose flesh on her arms.  She’d voted for Trump in 2016 because he wasn’t afraid of speaking out about what everyone around her was really thinking.  Another bunkmate was a born-again Christian who’d voted for Trump too, and in the camp she was ranting that the worst thing about the place was that people were going to form homosexual bonds and never go to heaven.  She told me that if I had any perverted ideas I should know she kept a pistol under her pillow. That was one thing they let everyone have in the camp; they had a canteen where they sold guns on easy credit terms.  
So when the social worker asked me what I thought of the bunkmates it didn’t take me long to concede, “They’re riffraff.”
“You see?” the social worker said. “If they weren’t so ugly they wouldn’t be poor. What’s wrong with you? ”  
 You don’t hear much about the disappeared.  My tattooed bunkmate got a bullet in the head because she had diabetes and she couldn’t afford the insulin they sold at the camp canteen. The police came and got her and told her they were going to put her out of her misery.  But I turned out to be someone they could re-educate. I started wandering around in this trancelike state, talking to myself and all I remember saying was, “It’s my fault I’m poor.”
That’s when I got the idea to start a company of my own, offering workshops and a safe space for the remaining liberals, or at least those who, like you, could afford to come.  Because I had a business plan, they let me out to pull myself up by my bootstraps.  They warned me that if I failed I’d be back, so I had a big incentive. I came out here to New Mexico and I hid in the guard’s cottage in someone’s vacation ranch. That’s how I survived for six months. Then slowly, I began to make it.
I’ve grown to love it out here and I think you’ll love it too. The Muslim armies haven’t invaded lately, and you have a lot of space before you get to that half-an-acre point where it’s legal for a homeowner to shoot you.  The 20 kids who were shot at the amusement park last week, and that guy who shot all the inhabitants of the senior citizens’ home, well, you know, stuff happens. But mostly it’s peaceful here.
You’re going to feel immortal when you get out of my training class. You probably saw in the literature that the $10,000 you paid for the week includes a fully registered AK-47 of your own. We’ll issue it when you complete the course.  I know, you’re the kind of people who don’t believe in having guns.  But you’re going to walk out of here re-educated and re-born, and you’ll be happier for it.
I’ve been doing this a few years now, and I know a few things about you. The clients who’ve  come to me always hanker for the good lives they used to have.  You used to be executives or tenured professors in San Francisco, or non-profit lawyers in New York, or TV producers in L.A., before all those cities became Trumpistan Real Estate Investment Zones.  You’ve managed to keep going and keep on as affluent liberals in the heartland, but you’re miserable, right?
Yes, I figured that. For 10 years now you’ve been waking up every morning in a shivery sweat. You’ve been thinking you can’t bear to look at that sneer again. Maybe you had Muslim friends who didn’t want to go to war and no one knows where they are now. Or you employed a sweet-tempered nanny who taught your children mariachi tunes and wanted to become a music teacher—and then she disappeared. And we’ve all lost people we loved in bombings.  I’ve been there too.
Well, here’s what we’re going to do this week. We’re going to talk about rewiring your sense of logic. Nearly all suicide bomb terrorists on our soil are Muslims. Therefore all Muslims are terrorists.
I see some hands up. Yes, you in the third row? Of course, you say but what about all the mass shootings by Americans who aren’t Muslim? We’ll rewire you for that too. You’re going to feel a lot less worried when you have your own automatic rifle.  
And that brings us to the part of your brain that all of you turn to pretty much every time you hear the news or see people getting herded out of their slum neighborhoods. The over-developed empathy part.  Do you know what it’s really like in a ghetto? Did you know that every single low-income person in this country started smoking crack at the age of 12? Then they start making meth and selling heroin to pay for their crack habit. If you give them welfare they’re just going to have more money to spend on drugs. We have statistics to prove that there’s plenty of drug money circulating in the poor parts of town. They’re just hiding their cash under the mattress. You’ll believe our statistics by the end of this week.
More questions, comments? Yes, hand up in the back. . I’ve heard that one lots of times. You feel like you’ve spent ten years in a country ruled by a big bullying jerk. You feel that he’s such a larger- than-life narcissist that he had to run for president and pillage the world instead of just taking Viagra.
You’re quite right, our beloved president has psychological problems.  Trust me, this week you’re going to learn to love him for his flaws. For him, money and power fill an emotional  gap the size of Las Vegas; underneath it all he’s afraid of being worthless as a human being. You’ll come out of this workshop feeling good about yourselves because you’re helping him feel deserving. The way I look at it, I’m here talking to you as an altruist who’s made a lot of money helping others become altruists.  
And here’s a question for all of you: Do you why President Trump feels so entitled? Tell me what your gut feeling says.  Don’t think about the answer too much. Remember, thinking is what’s made you miserable. You’re here to break your thinking habit. 
Yes? You say he feels deserving because he’s decided he is and once he decides something is so, he doesn’t ever question himself. You’re absolutely right. And all of you, you’re going to love how easy life is when you stop asking questions. Especially when you stop asking yourself questions.
Now I think this is a good time to rise and stretch. We have a mantra that will help relax you. Everyone stand. Raise your arms, bend side to side. Now repeat after me, “I love helping Donald Trump.”