When your partner comes home with you for the first time, try to prepare her. Explain how they still see you as a child: cake and candles, streamers and balloons, bubblegum and colored pencils as parting gifts. Though you’re twenty-three, your father insists, “You won’t be grown up in my book until I’ve walked you down the aisle.” Expect jokes about Clinton’s impeachment and Hillary’s headbands. Anticipate talk of bootstraps—how “some people” have never learned to pull themselves up. On the refrigerator, George and Laura Bush grin inside a heart-shaped magnet. The radio plays Rush Limbaugh all afternoon.
11 Warnings: How to Avoid Talking Politics at Parties
My friend with the brain tumor—a grisly glioma
Surgeons can’t get to the bottom of—that on one side
Of his head presses transmitters on the other, hears
A constant, streaming waterwheel of voices and music,
Slopping pails drawn up from who knows where
Each of us has reservoired it all—the dreamhorde,
The broadcasts, bunny hops, back seat schmoozing,
Nixon’s re-election bid, Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,”
Cheap café tunes with dummy lyrics, traffic reports,
Translated by OSTAP KIN
—Tell me about your new girlfriend, about the one
you’re living with now. What’s between you two?
—The air is between us. I just live with her
the way small children live with their fear.