I think most people knew President Reagan had Alzheimer’s as early as his first term. He couldn’t remember anything, couldn’t string two words together without a script, and couldn’t distinguish between fantasy and reality. Yet in 1984, the Democrats never made an issue of his mental fitness, thus helping him win reelection that year in a landslide. My mother, a lifelong liberal, compared him that year to a community crafts project: an ugly, garish, Popsicle-stick-and-Elmer’s-glue ashtray everyone—Democrat and Republican, male and female, rich and poor (well, mostly rich)—had helped build and had to pretend represented something worthwhile, otherwise someone’s self-esteem would suffer. My mother died of a heart attack in 1987 at age fifty-eight; I still miss her, but I particularly miss the political talks we’d have at her apartment, during which I’d feel a little guilty about knowing I’d use her observations, often word-for-word, for the comic strip (think Doonesbury meets Cabaret) I drew for the local weekly queer paper, a pretty radical rag, complete with socialist politics and gay porn reviews. I never told her about the comic strip, nor did I ever tell her my sexual orientation, though she had probably inferred the latter due to my lifelong bachelorhood; most of my male classmates from high school (class of ’70) had already married, divorced, and remarried. After her death, I abandoned cartooning and went into real estate. I haven’t drawn since, not that I’ve denied the world much in the way of artistic talent, though I suppose flipping houses in this economy takes talent of a sort.
(Fiction written on the spot this afternoon)
Copyright © 2015 by David V. Matthews