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My hairdresser, Lena from South Philly, all 104 pounds of her —
whose nickname is “Moonstruck” at her night job because she talks real
loud, and direct, like she stepped out of John Patrick Shanley’s noisy
valentine of a movie of that name — comes to my house now and then to
make me look as Italian as possible.
Looking Italian is a minor affectation of mine going back to
childhood. Maybe it began with my best friend Mary or my first love
Lenny both being Italian. Or maybe it began after hearing people say
“The Jews” once too much. Anyways, Lena and I have spirited discussions
about the Meaning of Life and such.
Lena’s no dummy. Proof of that is, one, Lena isn’t her real name, and
two, she finally broke up with Richie the Tick. Anyway, this most recent
visit begins with her admission she drinks food-grade peroxide daily to
clean her insides up, a habit she got into from her old boss Jules at
the health food store in my old neighborhood on the Square, where I
first met her.
It progresses to her authentic wonderment at the possible legitimacy
of Juanita Broaddrick’s rape allegations
against the President, fueled by
her hearing a radio talk show with Susan Bray, a local personality known
as “The Saucy Aussie,” grilling Broaddrick’s lawyer son, who Lena thinks
lives here in Philadelphia.
“This sounds serious, Mar. Rape is one of the ugliest things that can
happen to a woman. Where’s NOW,
where’s all the
Feminists?” asks an aggrieved Lena. “Where?” she continues rhetorically,
answering her own question: “He gives them what they want.”
“Yo, Leen,” I remind her, “this alleged incident happened like 21
years ago. Something’s not right. Could be a
‘bombshell’ carefully timed to explode after the impeachment failed to dislodge
Clinton from office. Could be they were even consenting adults. Look,
they met at some political event. She expressed interest in working for
his campaign, and they discussed that possibility. Give me a call, he
says. So she does, she called him. He’s pleased to hear from her and
tells her he’s not working that particular day. Meanwhile Broaddrick’s
married to one man and having an affair with another man, whom she
eventually married. Is that relevant? You tell me. Bill mentions the
coffee shop is crawling with reporters. So she invites him back to her
HOTEL ROOM. Duh. Questionable judgment on her part. Ambivalent, to say
the least. Gives out mixed signals, hard for a man to read.
One foot on the gas, one
foot on the brakes. Your own paisanne, Camille Paglia, has had a lot to
say about that kind of thing in the past. And now they’re making him
into some kind of vampire because he bit her lip. Haven’t any of these
people ever had, er, strenuous sex? Even beard-burn can draw blood. Far
be it from me to extend excuses for any guy on the make, let alone the
President, but. …”
“But she had to get stitches,” Lena seethes. Really? She didn’t even
see a doctor, so there was no medical report. First I heard mention of
stitches. “Yeah, I think her son said so on the radio,” Lena replies.
What I read was about swelling, bad swelling. Put some ice on that,
Juanita said Bill said as he was leaving after 30 minutes. Saying it in
his typical I feel your pain/No personal boundaries way of his.
“Listen, our President is a sleaze,” Lena declares, “And guess what, I
can’t stand the Democrats OR the Republicans.”
All this is before Lena even unpacks her hair paraphernalia. Good
thing Lena’s scissors fell out of her ditty-bag on the way over to my
house or I’d probably be bald by now. “So Clinton’s pro-abortion. That’s
what he gives Feminists. Have we heard a peep out of them about any of
this? And those partial-birth abortions,” she shudders, “How can he NOT
condemn them? All for a vote.”
Well, Lena and I agree anyone in favor of partial-birth abortions
can’t be all good. They put a DOG to sleep more humanely than these poor
unwanted later-term fetuses. What is that about, Lena wants to know,
tucking a dry towel around my neck before lathering up my tangly
To be fair, I don’t think the Feminists are thrilled about this
latest “revelation” in “As the President Turns.” Apparently, NOW head
Broaddrick’s tearful NBC “Dateline” performance and pronounced it
“credible,” “devastating,” but probably impossible to prove or defend
against because of the two-decade time lag.
“Yeah, alright,” Lena goes on, “and how come animal rights activists,
if they’re so sensitive, are usually pro-abortion?” Maybe they have
difficulty relating to human suffering, so they fight for the rights of
animals? I suggest. Or they see one as a moral issue, and the other as a
legal issue? “Could be,” Lena shrugs, sticking my head under the faucet
to wash out the conditioner before I can either reply, or express my own
bewilderment at infamous arch-Conservative intrigue
impresario-cum-literary agent Lucianne Goldberg receiving her own
national radio talk show.
“America,” Lena shakes her head. “We’re in a bad way. People have
lost their spirituality. And I’m not talking about religion. I’m not
saying this because I’m Catholic. So what if I’m Catholic. Is that a
problem? Not to me. My manager asks me, ‘Lena, you still go to church?’
Yeah, I say, what about it? He wouldn’t let up. ‘Lena,’ he says, ‘you
still worship that commie hippie faggot sandal-wearing Jesus?’ Like it’s
a crime. Listen, we need to look at ourselves. Or it is OVER for this
country, mark my words!”
Pass the peroxide.
**Nationwide Rape Crisis Center, with Live Counselors, 1-800-656-HOPE.