After a year of quarantine, I receive my second dose of vaccine.
My husband and I watch a Mae West marathon, counting down the days until we’ll reach maximum immunity. The world we see on the screen, as portrayed by the luscious, idiosyncratic sex icon, is riddled with casual sexism, blatant racism, even animal abuse, always dismissed with a languid puff on a cigarette, more dramatic if held in a holder.
The costumes are elaborate, fur and feathers, long and revealing.
Baby doll, I know what you need.
When I’m good I’m good. When I’m bad I’m better.
On the evening news, maskless naysayers crowd Florida’s beaches in a drunken frenzy, defying the evening curfew.
The Governor says: “you can’t tell people what to do. We’re not going to have the government dictate everyday life. If you want to come, come; if you don’t, don’t come.”
Mae West resembles a cat, a calico with a black eye. Full-figured and fluffy, she leads her admirers on, always on her own terms. She struts with a lumbering gait, tickles them with a flirtatious wiggle of her tail. Her deep-throated purr evokes her leonine origins.
The numbers of new cases of virus go up, fueled by the variants. The number of deaths plateau, thanks to the vaccines. By April, by May, maybe by September, we will return to some sense of normalcy. The Nationals prepare to throw out the first pitch, but opening day is cancelled due to Covid protocol.
All those wide-eyed men can’t get enough. Any one of them would lose their senate seat the minute the camera turned on. Mae cracks her whip and puts her head in the lion’s mouth. Governor Cuomo insists he is just a touchy guy.
The black maids giggle at her audacity. Don’t cut my nails too short, Mae says, they’ll think I bite them.
And the mass shootings begin again, to a backdrop of a trial of the policeman with his knee on the throat of a dying black man.
This is my country. ‘Tis of thee.
Mae West wrote, produced, and starred in her films. Was married but never shared her husband’s bedroom, was not married, lied about her marriages while screwing other men. Played a male impersonator. Was infertile after her abortion. Didn’t let the censors stop her for a minute.
A supreme court judge in Minnesota rules a rapist is not guilty because his victim willingly drank alcohol.
The movie always ends with the lovers in an embrace. Cary Grant is such a nice guy; you know he’ll never hurt her.
I lay in bed waiting for the side effects to kick in. They say its hits you like a truck.
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