Across the Way
I live across the street from our local newspaper's building. On the first floor, the antique printing presses are shipwrecks. On the second floor, the sportswriters' desks are messy and unoccupied. On the third floor works the editorial department. It's a conservative paper that pretends to be neutral. The editors are mostly Republicans who enjoy liberal and secular urban social lives while espousing small-town Christian politics.
One of the editors, a fiftysomething who wears only primary-colored Condoleezza Rice straitjacket suits, works at the window directly opposite mine. In this cluttered, crowded city, she and I are only 50 feet apart. I often stand at my window and watch her. She sees me watching her, I suppose, but has long since stopped caring. And it's not like I get naked or make obscene gestures or lick the glass.
I'm your standard hypocritical liberal. My friends are vegans who smoke, gay men who dislike drag queens, former Catholics who pretend yoga is the Eucharist, and social workers who grew up in huge houses with impressionistic art on the walls. So maybe it's natural that a guilty liberal like me would fall in love with a middle-aged reactionary journalist, a woman who is outmoded in three different ways. Call it nostalgia, call it mother issues, call it a political form of S&M.
Call it shame. I carry a protest sign against my own testosterone. I feel terrible that I sometimes behave so terribly masculine. So maybe I want a woman who wants me to be a colonial shithead, a powerful thief.
Of course, I've never talked to her in person, though I have called her a few times to argue about her op-ed pieces. She once wrote that every woman should carry a gun. She wondered if armed women should wear a button that declares "I have a concealed weapons permit."
During my long, sleepless nights, I think about her at the shooting range. I imagine her teaching me how to shoot. She presses her chest against my back, wraps her arms around me, and holds my hands that hold the pistol. Keep both eyes open, she says. And don't pull the trigger. You have to squeeze it.
My love, I want to say to her, I don't want to kill anybody, but I want you to teach me how.