The impossible happened a year ago Tuesday.
The T-man cometh to bully the world.
Who among us is the same?
Perhaps you too need a night guard to keep from grinding your teeth to dust.
Perhaps you too have developed a slight nervous twitch.
And perhaps you wake up feeling low-level dread, trapped, fearing the next T-pocalypse.
It’s Post Traumatic T-man Disorder, my therapist says. It’s been spreading for months, like bubonic plague.
The American Psychological Association reports that Americans are more stressed than ever about the nation’s future (63 percent), beating our usual stressors, money (62 percent) and work (61 percent). More than half think we’re at the lowest point ever — lower than World War II, Vietnam, Sept. 11, or the Cuban Missile Crisis, when millions of school kids practiced hiding under their desks.
We just can’t escape the stressor in chief, who sucks us down the widening gyre.
I see the T-man on the kitchen TV. At the podium. He’s making that circle with his right thumb and index finger, jutting it at us in hostile little bursts. He’s calling something “a total disaster” or somebody a “total loser.” What he’s doing himself? That’s “Yuge,” “bigly,” “epic,” “historic,” “the best and biggest ever, believe me!”
And there I stand, dish towel in one hand, sponge in the other, pathetically paralyzed, unable to turn away from those so-white teeth, the most powerful Chiclets on earth.
So the once-mild-mannered Josh confessed this summer to a Canadian newspaper, proving that T-obsession knows no geographic bounds. Josh said he “used to be a normal person.”
Now? He “shoots up” T-tales like an addict with a needle. He’s ever alert for the errant T-tweet that ends it all.
12:14 a.m. “Take out Korea!”
12:21 a.m. “Whoops! I meant get Korean takeout!”
I used to be a more or less normal person too.
Belonged to a book club. Walked the dog. Talked to my neighbors. One of my children would call from o’er the miles. I’d drop everything to chat.
That’s all over now.
If the phone rings when my two favorite Davids, Axelrod and Gergen, appear with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, forget the kid, I hate to say it. I need my two Davids — sane, soothing, so firmly grounded on planet earth — to talk me down.
The book club fizzled because, well, really, who has time when one must obsessively swipe smart phone or iPad for T-updates, T-poll numbers, and Matt Kiser’s newsletter, “WTF Just Happened Today?”
Now I walk the dog wearing headphones, listening for podcast reassurance: This can’t go on. The closest I’ve come is “Pod Save America” by the cocky ex-Obama whiz kids. Unfortunately, they’re the same cocky whiz kids who promised this could never happen at all.
I know. We’re supposed to get out of our bubbles. I try hard to listen to relatives. I read “Hillbilly Elegy” and “Strangers in Their Own Land.” I’ve watched Sean Hannity, read Breitbart, even Alex Jones’s Info Wars, where 2 million to 5 million heard that kidnapped children are sex slaves on Mars.
Jones deserves a Pulitzer, the T-man has said.
But I’m done now. Enough already. Sex slaves on Mars? Are you kidding me?
I know some of you are thinking: Stop whining. You’re just a privileged, hysterical snowflake.
Maybe I am.
But here’s the thing: I’d long believed Churchill’s line that American politicians, facing the abyss, will exhaust every ridiculous possibility but eventually do the right thing.
Well, the abyss is here and deepening, and I just don’t know anymore.Margery Eagan is cohost of WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio.”