I have a friend who lives in Sweden. She is American, has a great job and is upbeat, kind and just really nice – someone you could ask to collect your grandma’s pension and also stop by the pharmacy on the way for incontinence pants size XL. I like her a lot. She is also sporty and lives an admirably healthy lifestyle, so it came as something of a surprise when she announced to her Facebook community that after the election, for the first time since college, she had been consuming alcohol for five days straight. Not that I would hold that against anyone, it’s just more the kind of thing I would do. But that only shows how much the world has tilted off its axis. The most stable, grounded people on the planet are needing to drink to cope with reality.
At around 9 on the morning of 11 November 2016 I had a friend call and ask if she should come over with a bottle of Pinot Grigio. It was a tempting prospect. Then another suggesting we all convene at our favourite bar at lunchtime and get straight into the vodka. And while I didn’t do either of those things, I was pretty unrestrained around the number of G&Ts I allowed myself before, during and after dinner. And it hasn’t really stopped since. As anyone who knows me knows I’m unabashedly enthusiastic about a cold glass of Chardonnay (or Chenin or Sauv Blanc if you have nothing else), but I’m not a particularly big drinker, and almost never drink alone. That was, however, before an orange madman became the leader of the free world. Since then, the staff at Ultra Liquors in Green Point have become ever more pushy about my getting an Ultra card so I can score points for the large purchases of booze I’ve been making of late.
Come 6pm (and sometimes 5:30. Okay, 5) it’s balls to the wall at our house. We pour ourselves tall glasses of whatever’s going and gaze at our sliver of ocean and proceed to get pretty blotto. And it’s jolly and, frankly, the only way we know how to deal with what has happened. Because anyone who is not a complete idiot knows it isn’t good. A lot of brilliant and insightful things have been written about Trump’s win and I don’t presume to have anything of significance to add, but I am chastened by how divisive this election has been, even personally. I generally try hard to understand other people’s views, but when it comes to supporting this man’s take on the world, I have had to take a long and unpleasant look at who I’ve been calling ‘friends’. Because through his politics runs a strain of indecency which is so intrinsic to his character it is beyond rehabilitation, and it runs counter to all the values I nurture and hold dear. I simply cannot respect anybody who supports him.
And while I have no doubt Hillary is capable of ruthless ambition and behaving every bit as unscrupulously as her male predecessors, she still inhabits the world as a woman which means she has a certain sensibility and whatever she would have done in her presidency would not have involved screwing the girls of the world over. Unfortunately we can’t say the same thing for the apricot hell beast (a description I stole from Twitter and hold dear). Yesterday I collected my daughter from soccer practice and we found ourselves behind a bakkie where a man sat holding onto some garden furniture so that it didn’t fall into the road. First I felt sorry for him – what a stupendously kak job – but when he stopped at a stop street we pulled up close and he looked straight at me and proceeded to do lewd things with his tongue. As I sat there in my car with my daughter right beside me. Not even vaguely embarrassed. And sadly, this is the world we live in, and this is the kind of behaviour Trump thinks is cool. It happens so often when you’re a girl you reach a point where you don’t even tell anyone anymore.
And I won’t go into how genuinely frightened my friends in same-sex relationships are and the immigrant thing and the Muslim thing which makes my blood boil and also makes me realise that I’ve been living in a bubble where I thought the world was an okay place and that, give or take the Middle East and Putin and Syria and Zuma, we were pretty much on the right track. But I hate that I have to look at this leering, ominous dinosaur of a creature and know that he has just been given huge amounts of power to make decisions that, one way or another, will affect every human on the planet, especially minorities like my daughters and I. It’s all just a bit barking.
Some years ago I sat at the bar (surprise, surprise) at Trump Towers in New York and the Donald himself came down and scanned the room with his small, watery eyes no doubt looking for a girl to ogle. In those days he was just a rich, hairy joke. The thought of him running for president, never mind winning, was ludicrous. His eyes fell on me and he did one of those up-and-down look things reserved for men who are so arrogant and smug it’s rendered them impervious to the feelings of those around them. I wasn’t pretty enough to hold his gaze for long, but it was enough to make me feel uncomfortable and diminished. I realise that my value, in Trump’s world, will be even more negligible than it was before. And so we sit here asking ourselves how this crazy thing could have happened. Anyhow. What’s done is done and clearly the world is not what I understood it to be. I don’t know whose fault this is, nor on what spectacular level we messed up. But I find, reaching answers to these complex and troubling questions is made easier by leaps and bounds when you’re completely schnockered. So till we can find a better solution I say, bottoms up.