After years of tortured searching, I have finally found a use for Western literature. I merely select pieces from the dead-white-men canon and revise them, in a way that we can better understand contemporary politics! For instance, the perplexing realpolitik of a certain U.S. Senator, and possible Presidential candidate, suddenly becomes clear, as we reconfigure a classic story by Franz Kafka. “The Metamorphosis” begins: “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. . . .”
Now, on to our improved, updated version:
One morning, as Hillary Rodham Clinton was waking up from anxious dreams, she discovered that she had been changed into a monstrous verminous Republican.
She lay on her armor-hard back and saw, as she lifted her head up a little, her brown, arched abdomen divided into rigid bow-like sections. Her numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of her circumference, flickered helplessly before her eyes.
“Oh, great,” she muttered. “I am 100% enjoying this. In fact, I’d really like to french kiss whoever did this to me.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton was no stranger to sarcasm. Sarcasm had gotten her out of the house — where she had once loved to bake cookies in the shape of Tammy Wynette — and into the public fray, to fight the rightwing plots that assailed her and her husband.
There, in order to survive, she had learned to “triangulate.” She had become highly skilled in moving to the center, between two opposing sides, ignoring the liberal losers and placating the neoconservative ascendancy — all the while remaining staunch and true to whatever it was she stood for that day. She was proud of her record in the Senate, proud that Pete Seeger had never written a song about voting for her.
Who could have done this? Was her loathsome new form the work of another rightwing conspiracy? But why would the Right do this to her now? Hadn’t she just complimented the President on his “charm and charisma”? Hadn’t she supported capital punishment and welfare reform? Sponsored anti-flag-burning legislation? Asked for 80,000 more troops in the army? Pounced on photo-ops with the likes of Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, and Bill Frist, and planned a fundraiser hosted by Rupert Murdoch? Hmm. . . . Maybe FBI higher-ups, seeking to upgrade surveillance, had told one of their inept agents to “bug” her room. Those imbeciles screwed up so much; no telling what they might do to a figure of speech. Or maybe. . . .
Hillary tried to rock her hardened exterior onto her right side, where she usually thought better. From her new angle, she was just able to see her framed, autographed picture of the Dalai Lama. What had he written in the corner? Oh yes: “Change comes from within!”
But that was blaming the victim. Jesus, what a happy, robe-wearing idiot that Lama had turned out to be, reflected Hillary. She was glad he would never know the joys of marriage —
Marriage! She had it! It was those awful gay people! They wanted to get her back for saying that legal marriage should only take place “between a man and a woman.” Hillary hated how smarmy and vindictive gay people could be, with their nasty drag shows and hateful, bitch-slap columns. Still, she couldn’t help wondering if all her new, vibrantly hairy legs wouldn’t attract more lesbian voters. . . .
Yes! It had to be the queers. And after all she’d done to get them into the army, the ingrates. Hillary shuddered with rage, then tried to roll out of bed. She pitched back and forth, waving her blackened, lesbian-alluring legs wildly, then stopped. No. It was too late to set the record straight. How would she look to people now? A Republican!
She pictured herself on a presidential campaign junket, crawling down a street blaring with patriotic music. Her quivering antennae bedecked with red, white and blue streamers. Her black, empty, doll-like eyes never moving, never seeing. Her mandible scraping the gutters for edible filth, as homeless men fainted, women with no health plans screamed, and children abused in underfunded public schools hurled rocks at her disgusting carapace.
She wondered if the queers had also turned the entire Democratic Leadership Council into monstrous verminous Republicans. Probably. What if, in their new vermin-incarnations, the DLC membership tried to mate with her? She began to think of possible places around the Senate chamber where she might deposit her egg sacs. . . .
Eggs. All this conjecture was making her hungry. Time for breakfast! Maybe something putrid for a change, like a decaying fish bladder —
Then she smelled it. A sweetish, sickening odor. She couldn’t place it. An exploding sewer pipe? No. RAID? No. . . .
Ssss, szzzzth, hissed the fragrance, as it wafted under the door and into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nasal parts. All at once, Hillary recognized the odor.
It was death. The deaths were here.
Finally, the useless, soul-breaking, smelly deaths of over 100,000 Iraqis and 2,500 Americans had found their way to someone who had voted for the war. To someone in power who continued do nothing to stop the killing. To one more politician, who, with vision, backbone, and triangulation, had stood for nothing except her own career. It was the stench that had made her this way.
“This is truly Kafkaesque,” Hillary Rodham Clinton struggled to say. But all that came out were frantic clicks and insectoid rustlings. . . .
Susie Day lives in New York City where she writes a humor column for feminist and gay publications. She has also written on U.S. political prisoners and labor issues and thinks her girlfriend, Laura Whitehorn, is hot stuff.