A Yankee Notebook, Columns

What Will Karma Have in Store?

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EAST MONTPELIER – Many of us are familiar with  archy and mehitabel  (more of us ought to be), a collection of essays, stories, and poetry written by archy, a cockroach with literary instincts and talents who’s been condemned to a life as a cockroach for the crime of having been a  vers libre  poet in his most recent past one. He lives, appropriately, in a newspaper office and writes each night on a sheet of paper left in the typewriter of the “Boss,” a friendly columnist who publishes archy’s output.

Listening each day, as I do (it’s impossible to avoid it), to the unnervingly breathless depictions by the eager young reporters covering the so-called Manhattan “hush money” criminal trial of Donald Trump, I think often of archy and wonder what a future life may hold for Mr. Trump, in the event that those who believe in such things are right. What will karma have in store for the former president? Hint: It likely will have nothing to do with literature, art, music, the outdoors, or pets.

You probably can tell by now that I think Mr. Trump is guilty as hell, if not by law, then at least in his own mind. There’s no way to know how many millions he’s spent on attorneys whose main job seems to be to delay indefinitely, and when that runs out, obfuscate, quibble, and gaslight. That by itself isn’t enough evidence for a conviction in court; but if you come home from several hours away and find the living room strewn with the fragments of a pillow, and your dog not running joyfully to meet you, what’s the obvious conclusion? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist.

Millions of Americans, hard as it may be to believe, are so steeped in the notion that their government is corrupt and evil that the multiple indictments seem indeed the “witch hunts” that the defendant has declared them. The fact that he has been further enjoined from commenting on the character and identity of the witnesses, jurors, court officers, and family members of any of them is further proof, if any were needed, of the nefarious nature of the prosecution. He’s obviously being railroaded.

On the other hand, more millions of Americans have succumbed to one of humanity’s basest emotions,  Schadenfreude, which has been observed occurring in children as young as two. The English word for it is epicaricacy (you don’t have to memorize that one; it won’t be on the quiz). Briefly, it’s a feeling of pleasure, accompanied often by smugness and self-righteousness, at the sufferings of another who we deem has it coming.

My particular beef with the indictee Trump has less to do with sexual adventurism and fraudulent property evaluation than with stiffing contractors. As a former small contractor without the means, in the event of a dispute, to hire a lawyer, I’ve experienced the so-sue-me gambit and detest it. Mr. Trump’s business career seems to have been littered with the wrecks of little businesses with no option but to suck it up. You don’t want me on that jury.

I know no more about the man, his associates, his family, or his business than any of you. I know enough, however, not to trust any of the comments, friendly or otherwise, which show up daily on the internet. As Will Rogers once said, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” I trust only what I can see and hear clearly, and draw conclusions from that. And like you, I filter that through my own experience to draw my conclusions.

For example, his trademark glower. I guess his mother never told him that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile; further, that if you make a certain face all the time, your features will freeze in that expression. I’ve watched that glower. It’s gone from an attempt to look serious, to registering extreme disgust, to an attempt to intimidate. But it’s lost its punch. It’s now a caricature, possibly a rictus, and more than slightly risible.

My good friend Bea and I disagree about his true nature and what should be done about him. She’s originally from Manhattan, so knows more about his reputation than I, and feels he’s a crook, and should be in durance vile with a stainless steel toilet instead of gold-plated. I’ve read books about him, and have come to believe that he’s a sociopath, but given his situation, attention-deficit disorder, family expectations, flexible ethics, modest intellect, probable amphetamine addiction, and lots of money,  likely could not have turned out differently.

So I feel sorry for the guy in a way. Conditioned to respond volubly to events around him, he’s now compelled to show up, and admonished to, in effect, sit down and shut up. That, for the monarch of all he surveys, has got to be tough. Plus he’s probably enjoying a better market share than he did on “The Apprentice.” And he’s not getting a penny for it!

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