Still can’t get my bearings in this alternative universe

It has been a few weeks now since the election, and I feel like someone who just came out of a coma and woke up in the hospital after suffering a traumatic injury. I am surrounded by dozens of cards and letters from friends assuring me that I am going to be OK and that “everything is going to be fine.”

A couple of friends are by my side, trying to explain what happened, but I gradually realize they are speaking another language and I have no idea what they are saying. I tell them that I do not feel fine, but they just smile and nod. My head hurts and my toes are burning like French fries in hot grease. On a little table next to my bed, there is a half-eaten container of blue Jello, and next to that, my heart, slimy and still beating, as if the doctor — perhaps a graduate of Trump University — forgot to put it back in before sewing me back up.

I am going to be OK. This is nothing really, just a minor mix up, probably happens all the time. A nurse appears, blonde and chipper as a real estate agent. She doesn’t seem to notice that my heart has been removed and left there on the table.

“Nurse, am I dying?” I say, trying to reach out to her but unable to move my arm.

“Would you like some more Jello?” she chirps. “The orange is quite refreshing.”

“May I see the doctor?” I beg her. “I think there has been some mistake and no one seems to notice.”

Then I see the doctor on the television above my bed, but he is a soap opera doctor. I see that some of my friends are also on the show, while others are not, and I can no longer tell which is real, the show or the hospital I am in now. Now I am wondering if those of us who are not on the show are still real. Because at some point, we are all going to need this doctor, regardless of whether he knows anything at all about medicine.

In a nutshell, that is how I have been feeling since Election Day. Every day since then, there is some fresh horror, some incredible new absurdity to behold. One day, there is a room full of neo-Nazis gathering in Washington, D.C., celebrating Trump’s victory with choruses of “Sieg Heil,” and the next he is appointing as our new Secretary of Education a woman who has not only never taught or worked in public education for one moment of her life, but instead has spent her life working to dismantle public education.

In the meantime, the President-elect has already made it a practice to turn down daily briefings that might just help him get up to speed on any number of significant issues he will be facing in a few short weeks after the inauguration. Instead, he stays up late at night pitching hissy fits on Twitter like a particularly immature high school sophomore.

The latest, which just happened a few days ago, was sparked by his irritation that he won the election but actually received about two million votes less than Hillary Clinton.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” tweeted Trump.

There is absolutely no factual basis for this claim whatsoever, but now that we live in a “post-truth” world, it no longer seems to make any difference what the president-elect says or does. Many of his supporters will believe anything he says, regardless of how ridiculous or patently false it is, while many others simply shrug off his bizarre behavior as the harmless antics of a man who says what he thinks, even if what he thinks cannot be supported by any available evidence.

At some point, I would imagine that these episodes will become less charming to the more intelligent and well-meaning Trump voters, but I must also admit that I have been wrong over and over again when making predictions about Trump. I never thought he would win a primary. Then, when he did win one, I figured he would drop out because he didn’t really want to be the president. Then when he didn’t drop out, I thought the Republican Party would circle the wagons and get behind someone who would finally deliver a knockout blow. When that didn’t happen and he actually got the nomination, I thought Hillary Clinton would destroy him in the debates and win the election by a fairly comfortable margin. You know the rest.

My son says it feels like this is a big prank, and I admit that I often feel that way myself. The other day, I saw someone — a self-proclaimed Christian — from my hometown post a message on Facebook that said it would be such a relief to finally restore some dignity to the White House, referring to President Obama and the First Lady as a “stupid big-eared baboon and his silver back gorilla wife.”

I will not go so far as to say that this kind of overt racism — not to mention the utter detachment from reality her comment represents — is typical of Trump voters, but I would say that Trump’s relationship with the “alt right” has emboldened those confused souls who somehow have come to believe that the bitter hatred in their hearts is actually a burning and purifying righteousness, and that Trump is the oxygen.

So, no thanks, I don’t think I will be heeding the call to unify, or to join the president-elect’s new reality show, or to “agree to disagree,” or to try the orange Jello. It has been three weeks, and so far I’m not OK with any of this. It’s not going to be all right. I’m afraid that we’re going to end up having some quarrels — probably quite a few — but that doesn’t mean I love you any less. OK?

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Haywood County. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)                 

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