The Spy Who Flunked Me
About a month ago, I received an invitation the Chappiqaw Creek High School’s annual history department get-together, which they hold sometime around the start of every school year. I was flabbergasted for several reasons:
1) That my spineless (former) colleagues would have the nerve to defy lockdown protocol.
2) That they would invite me.
3) That they would invite me.
Honestly, I thought there was some mix-up at the post office. Even before my sudden (and forced) retirement from that particular department, it was a frequent occurrence that my invitation was conveniently lost and never heard from again. Surely, this was some mistake, I thought. Surely, they didn’t intend for me to actually appear. Surely, I wouldn’t have the faintest desire to actually appear… Or would I?
It turns out that I did.
Moreover, I decided it’d be something of a lark to go incognito, as it were. So, I affixed a homemade “BLM” pin to my felt jacket, mumbled a few words about “Isn’t it awful about RBG?” and “Trump can’t leave office soon enough” and wouldn’t you know it? I was in like Flynn.
Nobody suspected a thing. Well, maybe a few of the older teachers did – I was never exactly shy about expressing my views on diverse matters – but most of the younger teachers (and spouses of teachers) nodded along in agreement. I decided to do a little snooping, to see if I could flush out what the other side thought about this past summer’s wild events. Here is my full report:
I’d describe the majority of my former colleagues as solid Democrats. They don’t always love what certain Democrats say or do, but they’ve identified themselves with the party for so long, that to consider voting Republican is nigh unthinkable. A phrase I heard repeated again and again was some variety of “We need to get Biden in, so everything calms down”.
I found this highly amusing – but also interesting. What exactly needed to calm down? In subsequent conversations, I probed a little further. What most meant, in the end, is that the drawn-out CHINESE VIRUS debacle, the uproar in towns and cities across the land, scenes of fiery buildings, fiery cars, et cetera – all this has taken its toll. Perfectly understandable, although my colleagues were more than a little predictable about who's to blame.
More than once, I laid a cunning trap. “Yes, but uproars over police violence occurred long before Trump,” I said (accurately), “I don’t see what difference Biden will make when another video surfaces. And believe me, another one will surface.”
To which, most people fell over themselves to affirm their woke credentials, to say they were all in favor of fighting for racial justice, and that something must be done about the police, and so forth – maybe defund some (but not all), or dismantle this (but not that), or do something else entirely (so long as there’s still a number they can call whenever they get a teensy bit spooked).
Yet while they all said something along these lines, they also mentioned (in hushed tones) that they weren’t terribly in favor of… ahem… some of the protest “tactics”.
“You mean rioting and looting?” I asked. Many seemed visibly uncomfortable with this choice of words, yet whispered their assent nonetheless. All in all, their attitudes could be summarized by one lady teacher, whom I always liked even if we differed on politics. She had this to say: “I just think with Biden in office, things are less likely to get out of hand.” She offered no further justification for this belief and I – perhaps to my discredit – declined to press her on it.
There was one notable exception to this assembly of murmurers and whisperers; a certain colleague who had always been far more open about his opinions. This person – let us call him Adam – subscribes to the Charles Beard, Howard Zinn school of American history. He is, in other words, an avowed socialist who used to keep pictures of Che and Lenin in his office. He still might, for all I know.
To give you a sense of his views, I have overheard him describe the New York Times as “conservative propaganda”. Let that sink in. He is youngish, not much over 40 I'd say, and sometimes wore an Antifa pin on the side of his trilby – and of course he wore a trilby.
As you can imagine, this Adam fellow wasn't terribly pleased to see me. Still, I managed to corner him, and after exchanging pleasantries, I asked him his thoughts on the upcoming election. “It doesn’t matter, Biden’s just a cypher,” he answered, clearly still stung about Bernie.
“But at least, he’s better than the alternative, right?” I said. In reply, Adam came up with this little doozy:
“Right now, I’d rather have Trump. He’s completely open and honest. He draws out who his supporters really are. Now we know half the country is openly racist and proto-fascist. Biden will just try to cover-up all that. Pretend like it doesn’t exist. People are like ‘but the supreme court’. Whatever, balancing out the court won’t change anything.”
So, four more years then?
“It’s risky, but we might force a showdown. Or four years from now, we’ll get someone better. " At this point, Adam made it clear he had no further desire to speak with me and moved towards the snack table, whereupon he appropriated several rice-krispee squares from the communal supply. Quite uncomradely behavior, I thought.
But I wasn’t finished with our friend Adam. Being a suave and sophisticated gadabout, I sidled up to him again, made a pretense of taking one smallish rice-krispee square, and asked him if he had participated in any of the protests. I made an effort to display my BLM pin more prominently.
Much to my surprise, he made a face that suggested he was annoyed by the question. Moreover, he seemed annoyed with Black Lives Matter itself. I can only speculate that since BLM has become a fashionable cause, he has lost all interested in it.
“It’s just something white people say to feel better about themselves,” he told me, “They put signs on their lawns… whatever… How many of them will do the work that needs to be done?”
“What work is that?” I asked him. “You know, ending structural oppression, ending fascism, all that stuff,” he replied sullenly. He moved to the other end of the room and I left him to his mood.
Now, while tormenting people like “Adam” is one of the few pleasures left to me at my advanced age, I strongly discourage any of you in internet-land form exposing him or harassing him in any way. To be honest, the man has enough problems as it is.
It wasn’t exactly a secret in the department that Adam had, shall we say, issues. He was awkward, rude, and disliked. The other socialist teacher – yes, we had two – couldn’t stand him. It seems that is still the case. For myself, I always felt a little sorry for the guy.
It was plain to me that here was a man all but crippled by self-loathing. For example, he once mentioned to me how he enjoyed smoking meats in his spare time, only for a gloomy expression to overcome his face. “It’s a stupid hobby…” he muttered, “Stupid… wasteful…” He seemed earnestly depressed at himself. I tried to cheer him up, but to no avail.
So, let this be a lesson to you youngsters about the dangers of toying around with socialism. Oh, sure. It might bring you a few friends. Sure, it might give your life a bit more meaning than it had before. But once you’re hooked, it will consume all that is best about you. Until you don’t know up from down, and your own family can’t stand to have you around anymore, and you’re left to wallow in a pool of self-hatred (and probably other substances).
Friends don’t let friends become socialists. This concludes my secret report.
P.S. This letter will self-destruct in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…