by Barry Friedman
With their many tentacles, they remind me of a man I lusted after once—a dark, ink-stained man who left me, incidentally, for the wilds of Borneo—who had the touch of a hundred ravenous men, like sexually-starved squids going after plankton and smaller squid did he touch my soul and aureolas.
Why do I bring up squids? Why, indeed? A good writer asks herself questions before she asks her faithful followers questions that on the surface seem pointless and self-indulgent. It is because—and this is so tough to say—I really believe that ACA did more harm to the health of Americans than the Horizon blowout did to the health of the Gulf. You can still get shrimp from the gulf; you cannot keep your insurance policy.
And squids, like shrimp, live near water. (See what I did there?)
This man, this Obama, this one who honors Jane Fonda but not Jane Wyman, what did he want to do … to take our pain away from us? To make us catalog each jolt of discomfort? But I quote from William Shattner in Star Trek who said, “I like my pain.”
Obama as Spock.
Well, I don’t want this man—Obama, not Shattner—to take away my pain. I write through it, I speak on Sunday mornings, clutching my malady firmly in my hand, through it, as I talk of the revolution’s aftermath to elderly white men who once wanted to bed me. I WANT my pain. I was pained when Ronald Reagan died. I grieved, a grief that smacked me just right—sometimes on the face, sometimes on the bottom. I lay around the house all day in my oversized Molson t-shirt and thought about his greatness and his sinews and I could feel his touch (it was a metaphorical touch, not like … well, never mind), see his smile, look longingly at his legs and calves, and I would clutch myself and gasp. My pain defied complexity and description. I DID NOT want it removed from the bosom of my memory. Why would I go to a doctor for that? And would I be fined for not going? It was like wrestling with myself—the clutching of limbs and flesh only temporarily satiating. If only, like that squid, I had more hands to use on myself. Perhaps.
Oh, the screaming joy …
Sorry. Where was I?
Oh, yes, healthcare. This program, his program, this Obamacare (proud owner he says he is. Ha. I laugh!) whose complexity is so—how do I say—complex, whose comprehension is so—again how to put this into words—tough to comprehend. He has made us a country afraid to make our own health decisions, he has made us afraid to grieve silently in stoicism while others have access (how petty the poor can be) to endocrinologists without immediately whining about our own wait at an overcrowded clinic, he has made it impossible to clutch oneself and wait for that wonderful moment when shame and excitement embrace and then conclude as the body goes limp and the breathing slows ... and do it without telling anyone on a website.
If only this program were truly like wrestling a many-armed squid, a squid I would welcome, a squid who knows his way around my body, as I lie on a living room floor, beer t-shirt slightly hiked up, with the soundtrack of Ghost playing softly, thinking of a time when there were no individual mandates, no 26-year-olds living at home, no pre-existing conditions, but plenty of new mornings in America and one president who had defined, not blurred, lines.