This is what’s gotten the most attention in last week’s Vice Presidential debate, though you already know because, well, it’s gotten the most attention.
It was the moment when that fly landed on Mike Pence’s head and stayed there for a full TWO MINUTES, during which time he did absolutely NOTHING.
Like, he didn’t even flinch. Could you imagine doing that? What a circus trick.
I kept thinking of that scene in the movie Ordinary People where Conrad, the emotionally repressed, suicidal teen played by Timothy Hutton, bemoaned in therapy how much effort it takes for him to actually feel something.
To which his spirited Jewish psychiatrist, played by Judd Hirsch, replies, and I’m paraphrasing:
Do you know how much effort it takes NOT to feel something?
This seemed the perfect analysis to me of Pence, the religious conservative former governor of Indiana and current Vice President. The man who is said to not eat alone with another woman or be in a place that serves alcohol unless his wife is present.
The man who, for decades, has also been simultaneously dogged by rumors that he’s a repressed homosexual, with stories from the past claiming that as a kid even his own father once gave him the nickname of Bubbles on a car ride with the family because he was so, um, effervescent.
Well, all I can say is I would’ve preferred Bubbles compared to the things said about my own queer self at various times growing up.
Though never by my father. At least to my face.
That, in itself, could explain a lot about the differences between us. I watch the debate alone with my husband of 32 years (Note: Well, technically only 5 years of marriage but 32 years together. We weren’t able to legally marry for the other 27 and, if Pence had his way, we never have been able to) and together we root for the woman of color positioned 12 feet away from him beside that thick shield of Plexiglas.
Meanwhile, Pence sits up on the stage purposefully and unapologetically interrupting her as the running mate and chief cheerleader of the first openly white supremacist POTUS in modern times.
Pence and I may be close to the same age but as far as I know, that’s where the similarities end. Unless you believe the now disavowed comments a college roommate of his once made that Pence used to like looking at muscle magazines back in the day.
Okay yes, I will admit to occasionally being tempted by a publication or two like that in my youth. But I got over that phase once I realized that revering a man who appears muscular on the outside is not necessarily as desirable as it seems.
Though it can be.
Nor is it a representation of who he is on the inside. Though certainly it could be.
But you never learn any of that stuff when you stiffly refuse to feel the various stimulations on and in your head that almost everyone else watching you can so easily see.
When you are so pursed and controlled that you can’t even admit there’s a fly on your head, or perhaps worse yet, can’t even feel it, God knows what else you’re missing. Or choosing to miss.
Or, well, allowing to happen so as not to face the reality of who you are, what you’ve become and, most importantly, what you now represent.
And what people are truly seeing when they look at you.