Over the summer I read a story by a young writer named Matthew Bruner called "The Abortion". I was retreating in the Adirondack Mountains at the time, and the story was from Bruner's recently completed studies in the writing program at Bard College. Bruner writes tiny pearls with twists at the end. They are some of the shortest, and best, stories I have ever read.
In The Abortion, a young couple are cavorting on a chair inherited from the protagonist's's family. The young lady in question gets up casually to go to the bathroom. She then miscarries in the toilet, and with a directness that is somehow not distasteful, Bruner depicts the couple's progeny as a kind of primordial oozing black sludge. Stillborn. The couple embraces and loves the sludge, which has a personality. They name it Charlie.
That is the end of the story.
It came back to me yesterday when I was discussing the Republican aspiree for President Rick Santorum, who has hyper-kinetically catapulted himself into my consciousness due to his impressive run in the Iowa Caucuses. I had never even heard of him until two days ago. Same with the lives and minds of many Americans, no matter where We Stand.
Santorum is, well, weird and creepy. Its not just his V-Neck sweater, which reminds me of something Eddy Haskell would wear on one of his invasions of The Cleaver Household. Its not just the reality that Santorum is borrowing, without knowing it, many of the techniques and lifestyles of independent rockers and alternative voices and heretics like Henry Rollins, who described the surreptitious, mllitary-like operation of Being a Band On The Run in his "Boys On The Bus". This is the post Major Label World.
Santorum is so weird and plastic, a living Tussaud's model of Himself. Brilliant gay counter-bloogers were able to inject into Wikpedia a scientific definition of a "Santorum" as the slimy aftermath of anal sex. Really. I think the definition has since remorphed, but this was actually accomplished by the modern day equivalent of revolutionary War Broadsiders and Muckrakers railing against the British, or Ed Sanders of Fugs fame Mimeographing Egyptian and Mayan glyphs and counterculture messages from The Peace Eye Bookstore in the 60s off New York City's Tompkins Square Park while cavorting with writers and editors from Dorothy Day's The Catholic Worker.
Strange bedfellows? Santorum, Sanders and Henry Rollins? Not really. This is America. Incidentally, Sanders' brilliant cries in the day and night, rendered from a Mimeograph press perched atop his bathtub in his Lower East Side apartment publicly revealed as "an undisclosed location", landed him on the cover of Life Magazine at the time, somewhere Santorum would love to be were there still a Life Magazine.
But there is still the Internet and other and there are still other magazines.
Still weirder, and still creepier, was Santorum's reaction to the stillbirth of his Son Gabriel back in 2005, as chronicled by folks like Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post. Of course, there is no greater tragedy to fathom than the Loss of a Child, and the grieving process is to be respected, and even encouraged by counselors.
Santorum delayed the burial of his stillborn child to take the time to introduce it to family members and pose with it and family members for photographs.
Sad but true.
I, and many others like me, would not be invited to table with Rick Santorum. But we cry for his child.