Naked Liberalism

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It begins in the morning, my desire to be more conservative. Not because I admire conservative ideology, I do not. But merely for the convenience of it. Being a liberal is just so much harder.

In the morning shower there is always a spider awaiting me. I don’t know why my shower has so damned many spiders and I want to ask everyone I know if there’s a spider in their shower every morning but you don’t dare ask people about their showers nowadays. My first instinct, although I’m a liberal, is always quite conservative; KILL IT. It’s an instinct clearly born out of fear of things that are different than me. A liberal form of insect racism. Even before I turn the water on it to wash it down the drain, my liberal moral dilemma has already begun.

Any conservative in my spider-shower would’ve already washed it down the drain and finished his shower by now, while the liberal stands frozen in a naked tableau wondering if the spider has any children. And if so, are they waiting back in the nest or web or wherever baby spiders wait for mom to bring them food, if it even works that way for spiders. Maybe it’s only birds. Who knows? Not a liberal. But still we worry about these things.

The conservative is out of the shower by now and is enjoying toweling off a little too much, while the liberal has realized that he’s late for work and capitulates to the Darwinian pressures of the real world and while saying aloud “I am a terrible person” he turns the water on the spider. But the struggle of that little thing as it fights for its life is too much and the liberal burns his hand on the hot shower nozzle as he turns it away to save the spider. Is it a she, like Charlotte, in Charlotte’s Web? The liberal stands with his red ankles, red because they are being scalded as he tries to shield the spider from the hot water while using the shampoo bottle as a medi-vac flight, to hoist the half-smashed little guy up and take it to safety. The liberal is admitting to himself that he has a shameful killer instinct, probably stemming from his ancestors in Arkansas, but by trying to rescue the spider he is proving to himself that he can overcome it and be a better human.

The Conservative is by now ordering steak and eggs, because that is the kind of heart-attack food conservatives eat for breakfast, and why not since you can’t hurt what you don’t have. He is on his third cup of joe with breakfast at his favorite coffee shop where in 2019 they still call the waitresses Hon and tip them with coins.

The red-ankled liberal is now talking aloud to God, if only there were one, saying things like, Who am I to decide that another living thing doesn’t matter? and How arrogant am I? And by the time the liberal accidentally squashes the already dead spider by trying to use the conditioner bottle to scoop it onto the shampoo bottle in order to save it, the liberal has assigned it a personal gender pronoun and is giving Them (that the spider’s pgp) a eulogy.

The conservative is driving alongside the crystal blue ocean in a red convertible now, his hair blowing in the wind. The liberal in the shower faces the truth, swallows hard, and washes the dead bug down the drain, with the heaviest of hearts. He tries to wash his hair but can’t bear to pick up that shampoo bottle again, the one that tore the spider in half during the botched rescue. He thinks how Jimmy Carter must’ve felt.

The conservative now lies in a hammock looking out at the green Caribbean Sea over his bare feet while he sells stocks on his cell phone worth two point five zillion dollars. The liberal stands numb, choking on the water running into his nose and mouth, struggling to breathe and to get that violent image out of his head of the innocent spider kicking all its little legs trying to save herself from certain death. Why did he decide to wipe out all that that spider had learned in its short life, like how to spin webs and hunt flies and write Some Pig in its web?

The conservative is now running the world and dismantling democracy while the liberal has managed to get himself out of the shower, away from the scene of the crime. He wonders if there is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for spider murderers like him. There should be, he thinks. There should be. He wipes the steam off the mirror with his shriveled hand only to see the guilty face of a killer who is no better than a chanting Republican. A water-wasting murderer no less, who has just wasted enough water to fill Lake Tahoe. He stares at himself in the foggy mirror and then splashes cold water on his face to wash that violent image of the poor struggling spider out of his mind. Another liberal with PTSD, and he hasn’t even had his coffee yet.

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