AUGUST 4, 1998
Mom was no saint. She was much like you and me. She cared more about how others saw her than she should have, or than was healthy. A martyr to three very selfish children, she lived in denial. And, the black spot on her lower right calf, to a daughter’s more carnal visual sensibilities, was definitely malignant.
But, no cause for acknowledgement, oh no; there were the more important things to do, like cleaning the house and keeping up all sincere appearances of pure intent and aspiring godliness. If there was a cancer, it most certainly would not appear on her body and disrupt all her determined efforts to keep the house, the peace, and everybody in the family from succumbing to the onslaught of the enemy and their own, inner corruptions.
The spot persisted, though, as cankers do, and grew, and finally met the resident’s awkward knife and the pathologist’s grim telephone call two days after Christmas. And, Mom met her own mortality as seen through the eyes of her desperate daughter, eyes that would learn to stare down an unforgiving world and develop a canniness for cancers of all kinds.
I am that daughter. In defiance of all previous announcements to the contrary, I am you. Voyeur to The Play of Fools, peering nose-pressed-to-the-looking-glass at a drama not of my own design but double-exposing what binds me to every player-as-archetype in the theater of human absolution. I am Matt Drudge, Voice of Dripping Honey in the Wilderness; President Bill Clinton, the Alleged; Lucianne Goldberg, Mouthpiece of Moral Authority; Monica Lewinsky, Dorothy on the Yello-Brick Path of Least Resistance; Linda Tripp, Recorder of All Deeds Other Than Her Own; and, Kenneth Starr, Public Accountant and Pre-Destined Confessor. Covetousness, greed, lust, slander, back-biting, busy-bodying, face-lifting…an agenda run rampant, germ war already fully precipitating. A twisted evangelism has set up its outdoor tent and all are drawn inside. Current polls indicate that 49% have joined the tour, but feel nothing; 27% don’t care; and, 24% remain unrepentant. But none are immune, and there is no vaccine.
The issue, in subtext, is a feast of moral schism, a feud at the American family reunion. We haven’t a clue what to do about it because it exploits not just the President’s seminal fluid, but all that is seminal to our social consciousness in the face of what is flawed within the system designed to deal with it. Our jargon is rife with the roots of Christian notions long since discreetly discarded: “corruption” (sin); “dishonesty” (broken commandment); “accountability” (confession); “immunity” (absolution). Is it any wonder that Christians are having a prayer fest on the one hand, and a field day on the other? Why?
Because every system (political/social/judicial – let alone religious) is forced, into the spotlight, half-dressed, to face accountability. And, the gavel is passed like a hot potato.
My seeking eye reflects relentlessly on the seemingly-expanding black spot, just beneath Mr. Starr’s left temple, as he smiles ingratiatingly into a world-wide lens. (is it my retina, or can you see it, too?) “it’s just a birthmark; I’ve always had it, ” he might contend. I wonder if, when the final act is selected from among a jury of three scenarios in a test-audience, and the show runs to mixed reviews, and the last print closes at the dollar house, Director Starr, most Independent of All Counselors, might quietly search out his own pathologies. Maybe denial is the best panacea for deadly ills; maybe one martyr is required to save what remains of the day, this protracted, post-adolescent society from its moral maelstrom.
When Mom died, the family cell gave up its nucleus to a virus, and fragmented. Which of us would step up to the bar, swear on a stack of Drudge reports, and likely volunteer?
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo
August 4, 1998
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