Problematic

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I’m seated hunched over in the corner between the fifth and sixth round of what has been a relentless back and forth battle. I’ve thrown so many punches that my gloves are now compressed in. At some point the weight of my blows started being borne by the tiny bones in my hands and wrists that are so full of pain now they shiver. They feel held together with old frayed string and sharp ice. I’m propping the entire weight of my heaving dead meat torso on my elbows dug into the soft cup where thigh kisses knee. I’m exhaling lung after ballooned lung of hot wind gusts at the canvas even as it feels like I’m inhaling through a straw.

The sold out and packed event crowd, featuring prominent thinkers, celebrities, and even politicians side by side with the merely megaphone-less frantic passionates, has been roaring somethings that I didn’t even know I had tuned out long ago. I pull up the weight of my head to look across from me with one eye open, the other squinted to into a sideways keyhole due to my grotesquely contused lateral and inferior rectus.

And I’m looking at him. Donald Fucking Trump. He’s been beat pretty bad, too, but he’s too dumb to know it. Still smugly smirking. He’s making kissing sounds at the ring girl, looking her up and down like she’s a peck of apples to inspect for flaws. He’s telling her she’s not bad but he likes the blonde better as rubs his cock at her with a gloved fist in an ape’s show of dominance. He and the other men in his corner laugh as she exits the ring.

Gasoline surges back into all of me as he tries to smooth the wrinkles on his American flag shorts. He farts. I’m staring at him now like the sun through a magnifying glass. I'm ready to stand up and cross the ring prematurely. My hands, still burning, pull the pieces of themselves back together and coalesce into the stones of war I need them to be. My breath eases into a mind settled into the strategies honed toward his fall. I stand and approach my opponent, focused as the bell rings promises of pain yet to come.

My left arm detaches itself, wriggles out of the ring, and jumps into the third row to punch Tina Fey.


Hours later I’m at my apartment. One arm is holding a bag of frozen peas over my contused eye, the other sits across from me on the ottoman as crossed as it can be, half, in defiance.

“Arm... why did you punch Tina Fey?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Is there a problem? Did you hear what she said?”

“I know, I know. You already told me. It’s just that...”

“Yeah, well. Saying that we should just sit down and not fight him at all is offensive.”

“I think it was a joke?”

“Well, it was not funny.”

“Okay, well regardless, she has seemed firmly in our corner for a quite a long time now. Punching people on our side seems... ill advised? Besides, I seriously doubt that she meant…”

“Oh you’re going to tell me what she meant now? Like I don’t know what a joke is? That’s nice.”

“Arm…” I sigh, “I’m just saying, based on her past statements...”

“Did you just sigh at me?”

“No,” I lie to avoid escalation. At this point I’m accustomed to navigating the eggshells laid down in front of me like traps by my left arm. “I’m merely suggesting that it wasn’t helpful, and perhaps... even detrimental.”

“Wow. I’m being condescended by a white guy again. Big surprise.”

“Arm, you are also white, I think we’re on equal footing, privilege wise, here.”

“I find the most reasonable position is usually in the middle!” My dick interjects in its smurf-like voice.

Arm and I shout at dick to shut up. Dick and balls start their own shouting match about where on the spectrum from left to right is most correct. The sound of their high pitched little voices begin a run of squeaks over the argument happening between myself and my arm.

“You obviously don’t care about these issues at all. You’re basically the person who lamented the inclusion of black people in boxing. That’s you.”*

“Arm... what?! This isn’t some all or nothing, black and white thing!”

“A what?!”

“I didn’t mean... Look, I care very, very much about these issues you’re bringing up. Really. But this just wasn’t an example of that. And even if it was, I just don't think it's as consequential as you're suggesting."

“Yes it was. You just don’t get it. Oh my god with the privilege.”

“You’re white too!”

Dick and balls have concluded their discussion, finally agreeing that while both sides are important and deserve attention, it is usually the middle that wins out.

“Okay,” says arm, “Look. Even if you’re right, it is totally possible to care about the issues I’m raising, and other issues. Why does it have to be some all or nothing black and white thing. I have every right.”

I barely dodge the tangent, “Okay, nobody is questioning your rights, just if it is in fact right. And besides, I swear that is what I’m trying to do here. The fight we were already in, together, that is also that fight you are describing plus a lot of other stuff. I don’t have to be offended by a joke in order to prove that.”

“Oh. Okay, white man.”

“What does that even have to do with what anything?! I'm talking about strategy. Also, arm, again, you are also a white man!

“Not without me!” Peeps dick in his baby bird whine.

My arm and I pivot to common ground and forgo our discussion for a few minutes so we can explain to my stupid dick that sex is what’s in between your legs while gender is what’s in between your ears. Arm and I agree and suggest my penis read Judith Butler. Speaking on the same side for those few minutes feels refreshing and I feel like we're comfortably on the same page again.

“Oh. Sorry,” dick says afterwards, his descending apologetic tone like a dog’s chew toy refilling with air.

“Dick jokes are easy,” says arm.

“I know. But hey, look at that! Gender identity and dick jokes! That’s two things in a row that we agree on! See? We agree so much more than we disagree! And come on, even in the worst interpretation, do you really think a joke going to make me or anybody else stop fighting and not care? So maybe don't attack me over a joke I liked and let's just drop this?”

“It is not just a joke, and you don’t care about social justice,” arm snaps at me as he throws a solid left (obviously) hook to my jaw.

The back of the proverbial camel broken in the proverbial proverb in which my story takes place, I throw down the peas and pick up my arm by the wrist off the ottoman and hold it in air, shaking it and hissing a controlled shout right into its hand, which I’ve always assumed was its equivalent face because that’s the part that controls muppets.

“That is fucking it. Listen up you whining, distracted little jeweled goblet of feelings. Stop attacking me as if I’m the enemy. I am on your side. I give a shit. I give a huge shit about all the same things you do, and every bit as much as you do. Identity politics are important. Yes, I am a privileged white man and that is unfair. LGBTQ citizens deserve the same rights as everyone else and to live in a world without judgement or oppression. Representation in media is vital. Women face an uphill battle in almost every aspect of life in a way that is appalling. The patriarchy needs to be smashed. Black lives fucking matter. These are issues of literal life and death. We. Agree. All of these things are part and parcel of everything I am fighting against.

"You do not hold the keys to the morally superior club of the true progressive just because you happen to find more things to get upset by. And at a certain point, it’s just stupid. Yes, stupid. Time and again you chase after some inconsequential shiny object like some ADHD child chasing a Pokemon card into traffic. Seriously, how am I supposed to mock people who bitch about red Starbucks cups and the phrase ‘happy holidays’ when the only difference between them and my friends is their browser history?  

"Every single time you stir another shitstorm over the innocuous, all you ever manage to accomplish is a fight amongst ourselves and justifiable mockery because now we all look like some thin skinned screaming Baby Huey having a fit over every little triviality. Gee, does that remind you of anyone? Perhaps, I don’t know, the vomit inducing nightmare that is our, god this hurts to say, commander in chief? Could you perhaps show a little more spine than that weak, insecure monster and slow your roll a bit before lashing out at every famous person isn't actively patting your head as they speak?

"Christ, you’ve been doing this for years and we told you, we told you, that if you didn’t stop this nobody would take those complaints seriously when a something or someone of actual consequences came along. Well someone did, and look what happened. Outside our bubble, as certainly correct as our bubble is, nobody cared one whit about our complaints. We told them he was a racist, misogynist, dangerous fool.  We said it because he was and is. And they said to themselves, 'Well maybe, but hey, wait a minute, didn’t these people say the same thing about an X-Men poster?"

"But she said..."

"Shu shush! I don't care what she said! I mean, yeah, criticize it! Fine! Great! Just quit picturing me goosestepping in brown when I don't agree! Because yeah, it hurts alright? I realize I'm being callous and angry right now. Sorry. But my point is it hurts. It hurts to be punched by your friend over a joke when all I want in the world is to see empowerment for the all same people as you do. Okay? So get your head in the game, reattach yourself, and commit to the fight that, again, we all want to win, for all the same reasons. Got it?”

Arm says nothing. I feel bad for yelling.

"Okay?"

I let us sit in the ensuing silence I'm interpreting as thoughtful consideration. Hope raises my cockles by a handful of comfortable degrees.

Finally arm replies. 

“Problematic," says arm. 

And will likely continue to say far past 2018.


*Meanwhile in reality, I was literally told this weekend that defending Tina Fey’s cake bit made me the modern equivalent of those who lamented the end of minstrel shows.