I maintain there is always hope if you look around for it. I read the first few paragraphs of a story in the Times about fungi and how they absorb carbon that might otherwise be airborne and aggravate global warming and they enable plants to survive drought and serve as fertilizers. The headline was Unearthing the Secret Superpowers of Fungus and right there was my source of happiness for the day and I read no farther lest I come across the inevitable Buts and Howevers. My podiatrist says I have fungus under my toenails. This tells me that I shall be able to dance again and maybe run the low hurdles.
It’s good of the Times to offer hope. Usually it’s a downer. You read it and learn that the seas are full of plastic, a carbon cloud is making the glaciers melt, whole species are dying out, and half of our Republican friends believe that Joe and Jill are occupying the White House illegally, so we’re not the United States, we’re the banana republic of Ameragua and bands of revolutionaries will come down from the Sierras to overthrow the tyrants. I’d rather believe in the power of fungus.
I must say I feel terrific and here I am, turning 80, waking up cheerful in the morning. When I was 17, I had uncles who sincerely believed I’d wind up friendless and threadbare, living in a shack with raccoons, feeding on boiled acorns, but it didn’t happen, and thanks to a love of moldy old jokes and my mother’s cream of mushroom soup, I am in pretty good shape. In a couple weeks, a professional anesthesiologist will suppress my faculties and a gentleman with a scalpel will open my chest, exposing my heart, and will excise the leaky mitral valve and replace it with one from an American hog.
I feel I should go to Iowa this week and meet the donor and express my gratitude. Surely this was not the fate the creature had in mind for himself. I’d like to pat his belly and scratch the top of his head and show him some love.
Recommended for You
But why do I assume the valve comes from a male pig? I have no objection to receiving a female mitral and if this requires some transitioning on my part and identifying as a more sensitive and caring person and learning to wear pearls, then so be it. Male or female, boar or sow, pigs are known to burrow for provisions and eat a good deal of fungi that you and I pass up, so I am getting a new valve imbued with superpowers. This is my hope, as encouraged by the Times. Not some small-town Times but the New Flashing Lights York Times and my hopes are pinned on the prospect of pig power. I am going to emerge from that procedure more coherent, more considerate, more connected than ever before.
I’m thinking I may announce my candidacy for the presidency before November.
Joe’s problem isn’t his age, it’s his experience. He spent his adult life in the U.S. Senate, which is less educational than working in a restaurant or teaching third grade. It’s like being a professional Shriner or Odd Fellow. You spend hours being amiable with people you feel superior to and then you stand up and give a speech written by someone else to a chamber that’s empty except for some clerks and a bunch of grade school kids up in the balcony. This is a poor excuse of a career, compared to serving on a town zoning commission where real passions are aroused whereas in the Senate you’re simply showing off for people who agree with you. After all those years, it’s a wonder Joe speaks as well as he does.
My background, on the other hand, is fiction. I invented a town and populated it and told stories about the people in it and this, I maintain, is excellent preparation for the White House. Fiction is only persuasive if it’s based on truth. Politicians obscure, storytellers clarify. If elected, I am going to cut way back on fossil fuel and invest in fungi and hit the tycoons hard who are sponging off the rest of us. The nation cries out for a man with a piece of a beast in his heart and that man is me. I will not bore, I will sow harmony, I will be ferocious.