As many of us know, a dentist or oral surgeon applies Novocain before the real work begins. This is done to induce a numbing sensation so that we, the patient, will be buffered so as not to feel the oncoming pain as they drill. And drill. And drill.
Any dentist or oral surgeon worth their salt does the least amount of drilling necessary — or applies an adequate amount of Novocain — to spare the patient pain. The idea is to spare the patient pain. And then to do the necessary work. In life we also want to spare those around us any pain as we all go about our necessary work. There are times, however, where we go through periods of pain while work is being done no matter how prepared we are. Going through that pain sometimes allows us to be more fully aware and to more fully appreciate the joys in life.
So yes, we realize there is a certain amount of pain and discomfort associated with going to the dentist. But we also trust that attempts will be made to limit the pain so that the needed work can be done. My attitude is generally a loving, positive and trusting one.
Right now though, I’m a bit numb. I’m slowly, methodically, painstakingly, beginning to come out of it. But, like Al Pacino in “Godfather 3,” just when I think I’m out … it pulls me back in.
I’ve been numb for a good portion of the week. Number than numb.
I’ve yet to personally feel the pain brought on by Tuesday’s election results even though I know some people felt it right away. I went back and forth, riding a roller-coaster of emotion that day. I was confident and cheery as I jogged to my polling place just before sunrise to cast my vote, encouraged by the many who joined me at that hour. I anxiously awaited the beginning of returns later in the day hoping and, yes, confidently expecting a firm victory for my candidates. A landslide would have been nice but certainly too much to expect. Each poll I heard and each political analysis I half paid attention to were doing their best to convince me of a firm victory.
Alas, as Election Night wore on, my confidence became disbelief, bewilderment, astonishment, and — ultimately — sheer exhaustion. I went to bed hoping for better results to appear later in the morning as some states were still too close to call. Double alas — as I crawled into bed, I had already begun my stages of grief, highlighted in the book, “On Death and Dying,” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a noted Swiss-American psychiatrist. For those unfamiliar with her work, Dr. Kubler-Ross broke down these stages of grief into 5 categories: Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
As Election Week has worn on, I’ve been reading news reports and Facebook feeds with various Hillary supporters grappling with what stage they found themselves in. Many were depressed or sad, some in denial, seeking some possibility of a way to overturn results. Some way(s) to finally break that glass ceiling to allow a first female President. Some were angry, no, livid at how this could happen after so much investment of time and energy … and hope. Many are also fearful for what this meant for — at the very least — the next two years until mid-term elections. That fear just made them livid again. Some were resolute in their anger, living only to remain livid.
Side Note: These stages of grief are also highlighted in an all-time favorite film. Director and choreographer Bob Fosse presented his personal experience with near-death by way of a fictional twin and highlighted with humor, music, dance, sexuality, show biz and “All That Jazz” (1979). If you haven’t seen this, I highly recommend a visit — or repeated visits — with this entertaining, drinking, smoking, womanizing anti-hero.
On the other side of the coin, there has also been joy in Mudville. Acceptance, too, with happier than happy Trump supporters reveling in victory until the wee hours on Election Night. Probably wee wee-ing on into daylight, dancing, drinking and pissing away their joy. Seeming innocent joy wasn’t so bad to see. While I have misgivings about their candidate, the joy seemed pure, even if somewhat misguided in my opinion.
Nobody likes a sore winner though. Since Election Night, my news feed has been overflowing with links to reports of arrogant and violent revelers spray painting swastikas and racist threats on doors, windows and buildings; taunts and threats to women, gays, Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, and people of the Muslim faith. It wasn’t enough for their candidate to win, some felt they had to drive home some aggression. It doesn’t take long for stupidity to ruin the party.
And is it any wonder that there might now be some reactionary violence as well? Peaceful protests soon weren’t so peaceful, thus bringing more fear. While I’m not wishing it, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some civil unrest akin to what was experienced in the 1960s. And more widely documented now since everyone seems to have a camera on them to record events. Pro or con, I’ll take you more seriously if you aren’t taking a smiling selfie with a bloody protest march going on behind you.
I was not prepared to gloat had my team won. Not my style. I would have been happy, but not to gloat. Still, I will do my best not to despair. I’ll get through this numb feeling. And the sad or depressed feelings. I went to bed on Election Night saying, “Wow.” I woke up with a silent (but soon to be written, it seems) astonishment.
As the dust clears, I will find my hope. I will find my humor. I will find my seond job. I will embrace my friends. I will care for my parents. And move on as we figure it out day by day.
The Trump victory was surprising for some, including (I think) Trump himself, assuming he is at all self-aware. I was recently reminded of the opening scene from the film “In & Out” (1997). At a fictional Academy Awards, Glenn Close lists off nominees for the Best Actor Oscar. In the list of nominees, she includes respected actors Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, and Michael Douglas but also finishes off with Steven Seagal for the movie, “Snowball in Hell.” That is a pretty good description of how I felt about the thought of a President Trump. Snowball in hell. It couldn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen.
But it did.
There is a part of America that is simply in love with celebrity, regardless of what they do. That may be part of why Trump was able to get away with brazenly insulting and demeaning so many.
These past few weeks have been emotionally draining for me with the passing of my brother Bobby — my on-going stages of grief for him — and the passing of what I feel is the collective sanity of half of the country. It has put me in a state of numbnity, to freely make up a word. But I’m also expecting this numbness to wear off. And I then expect some pain.
I’m numb. I feel a bit powerless. This will pass. I just don’t know when.
I am shocked and aghast that what I feel to be an inexperienced, racist, misogynist, buffoon who has fooled half the country into believing him without any plan of action. He’s a charlatan. He’s Harold Hill convincing the easily duped people of River City that they’ve got trouble that starts with T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Polls.
And in some ways, he was right. The polls were trouble and they told us nothing.
The title of “Numb” came to me for no particular reason. What I found more than slightly amusing were related words as I searched for rhymes and off shoots of the sound. A good portion of them have or can have a negative context: Bum, Chum, Crumb, Dumb, Glum, Scum, Slum, Crumble, Grumble, Fumble, Rumble, Jumble, Mumble, Stumble, Tumble, Feeble, Foible, Gamble, Garble, Scramble, Shamble, Libel.
Huh. Libel. Something Mr President-Elect had some opinions on this past February when he said he was going to open up the libel laws so that when the New York Times or the Washington Post writes something he disagrees with, he could sue. He does that, if you haven’t heard. He owes you money? Go on, sue. He reneged on an agreement? Go on, sue. You accuse him of sexual assault? He’ll sue you, whether he did it or not. It’s reflexive. He seems most at ease in the midst of a lawsuit, biding his time against his accusers. The man, as I see it, is lawsuit happy, keeping people in litigation purgatory.
In some ways, I feel that we as a country — or at least half of the country — may have jumped the shark. I don’t write that to be glib. I shared this thought with a few friends and one I’ve known since college didn’t appreciate the reference. But, again, I’m not trying to be funny or lessen the significance of this moment in history.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, to “jump the shark” is an informal term used in relation to television or film when a series reaches a point at which far-fetched events are included merely for the sake of novelty, indicating decline in quality. It stems from an episode of Happy Days when Fonzie was water skiing and jumped over a shark. Jumping the shark and kill the quality or popularity of a TV series, sure. But it’s a dangerous thing for a country.
When he first entered the race, many of us thought and truly believed that Trump was in it only for the novelty. But now half the country voted him in. Seems these voters were interested in the novelty as well, seeing too much of a decline in quality, whether or not that decline was only their perception. Just for the sake of shaking things up, no matter the cost of having inexperience up top and giving it a shot. “Why not?” they say, “what have we got to lose?”
At present — for the moment at least — I am sad. For what it means for us — and more specifically, my friends. For women in general. For the general populace. For us — the US us — as a country.
So yes, we realize there is a certain amount of pain and discomfort associated with going to the dentist. But we also trust that attempts will be made to limit the pain so that the needed work can be done. My attitude is generally a loving, positive and trusting one. I’m not trusting right now and I need to get over that. There is an amount of danger when those in charge don’t know how to — or simply don’t care to — limit the pain.
I’m just not trusting as I usually trust.
And right now, I am numb and sad. I am in continued mourning.
Sorry, Bobby. Too many of us could not see the forest for the trees of Trump support.
I suppose Mr. Trump could just sue me. But he won’t win much more than a mountain of debt. He could win more just by proving me wrong. Wouldn’t that be something? He wakes up on January 21, steps into the Oval Office and has an epiphany, realizing he has to work for all of us.
Prove me wrong, Mr. President-Elect. Prove me wrong.
Gary Trahan of Manchester, NH, has written and performed throughout New England, Colorado, Florida and New York City. Gary has written plays, sketches, screenplays and humor columns, including for almost three years as part of a rotating team of humor columnists submitting for the Encore section of The Nashua Telegraph. “Gare” received his BA from UMass/Amherst another lifetime ago, and has been learning lessons ever since. Writing and other forms of creativity help to keep him sane, uh, sanER. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.