At 6:22 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, a 1-year-old black cat named Barnaby leaped off the top of a dresser and onto my chest, waking me, as he does virtually every morning at virtually the same time in virtually the same way. As always, he was hungry and wanted breakfast. As always, I got up, trudged into the kitchen and fed him.
In Barnaby’s world, all was fine. Barnaby’s world is simpler than yours or mine: Bellies get empty, and then get filled. Repeat as needed.
In your world and mine, however, this particular morning was very bad. People were waking up to a shocking new reality: that we had just actually elected an ignorant, racist, con-man vulgarian to lead us for the next four years. We had made this man the most powerful person on the planet, which was an error of breathtaking proportions rooted in some of our basest and most selfish impulses. There was no silver lining. There will be no lemonade.
Meow, said Barnaby. Me want eat.
Barnaby was a stray. He has been living with me since last Christmas, when I spotted him darting between two cars, and my son-in-law spent an hour in 35-degree weather rescuing him from beneath the chassis of a third car. At the time, the kitten was six weeks old and weighed one pound. He certainly would have died that night. Rescuing him was the right thing to do, an act of charity that he has repaid with an ugly, nearly ceaseless campaign of wanton destruction. He has single-handedly demolished every single Venetian blind in the house. He has on eight different occasions knocked a roll of toilet paper into the toilet, where he toys with it as it bloats to the size of a bed pillow, then drags it around the house. He has mastered the art of biting just hard enough to hurt, but not hard enough to scar. He is the most proficient pooper the world has ever known, requiring the purchase of litter in industrial quantities. In terms of obnoxiousness, Barnaby is Trumpian.
The column in the magazine, which went to press a week ago, is entirely different. It is written in the form of an obituary, celebrating the death of a certain kind of man, a man I called “The Boys-Will-Be-Boys Guy.” I wrote this column in anticipation of a solid defeat of Donald Trump — supplying a long-overdue repudiation of the type of man who regards women as playthings to be pawed at his pleasure.
You see the problem. None of us at The Washington Post thought we were taking any sort of real risk here, for obvious reasons.
I am writing this on deadline, the day after the election. I am, like many people, more than a little stunned. You don’t need any more hair-pulling or teeth-gnashing from journalists like me, morons who spectacularly failed in the role of pundits and can’t seem to believe they were so stupid. So I’m just going to leave you with an image.
Meet Barnaby. When I took this photo he had just finished breakfast on this dreadful morning. He was happy. He had somehow managed to leap up between two kitchen shelves that are six feet off the floor and only five inches deep, without upending or breaking any crockery.
I literally don’t know how he got there. It doesn’t seem possible. But he got there, and I’ll just let my jaw drop, and try to move on.
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