What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been
The Stiletto comes from a broken home. Not broken in the commonly understood sense, but broken in the red state-blue state sense. Certain relatives (you’ll get to meet them later) drive The Stiletto to apoplexy some - okay, most - of the time in the summer and autumn months of even-numbered years, and are best avoided during this period.
Like many Americans, The Stiletto’s family is a mixed bag: Multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic, multinational, ecumenical, and includes several members who are gay (in-laws, but still). The Stiletto loves them all – albeit, at a distance in election years – so anyone who disagrees with her opinions had better refrain from recklessly lobbing accusations of racism, homophobia, jingoism or imperialism.
The Stiletto’s parents are both immigrants – legal, by the way - to the US and were already fluent in English when they got here. They raised The Stiletto with the vaguely socialistic values (aka “idealism”) common among European intelligenzia. Once upon a time, they believed Fidel Castro was a hero, Yasser Arafat was a freedom fighter, and Ramsey Clark (who couldn’t get on a plane fast enough to represent Saddam at the Iraqi Special Tribunal) should occupy the White House.
They both worked in inner city schools and belonged to the teachers’ union. Neither one kicked up a fuss when, at the tender age of 10, The Stiletto was forced to take three city buses (a 45-minute trip each way) to a newly-built middle school far, far from home in distance and in socioeconomic circumstance.
As was fashionable in those days, the school looked like a concrete high-security prison. Half the students lived in middle class neighborhoods, the other half lived within a mile of the foreboding structure. One half of the student body continually preyed upon the other half. It was like shooting fish in a barrel, since those being beaten up for their lunch money, their leather jackets or their jewelry had been socialized by their parents (that is to say, one mother and one father married to each other) never to get into fights.
The Stiletto never quite figured out how she and the other students from her neighborhood benefited educationally by spending most of the school day avoiding getting their butts kicked or their faces slashed with razor blades, but the students wielding the fists and the blades apparently found the experience financially lucrative.
Having barely survived middle school, The Stiletto was looking forward to attending the stately, ‘50s art deco-ish high school in her neighborhood. Then The Stiletto’s parents were informed by a mimeographed form letter that her nightmare was going to be perpetuated at a new prison-like high school far, far from home. The Stiletto threw a conniption fit and pleaded with Papa to pull whatever strings he could within the educational bureaucracy for which he worked so that she could avoid this bitter fate.
By then, Papa had soured on busing students – particularly those in his own family - from friendly, familiar surroundings to bleak, trash-strewn neighborhoods in which one instinctively locked one’s car doors and drove through as fast as possible. He did what he had to do, and The Stiletto miraculously got the benefit of school choice.
Looking back, it was then that the thought first occurred to The Stiletto’s parents that liberals, though well-meaning, were not living in the real world and that the road to Hell for everyone else was paved with their good intentions. But being instinctively liberal themselves it was, alas, just a fleeting thought. It took many more years and many more examples of utopian ideals gone horribly wrong before they realized that on just about any issue, liberals could be counted on to advocate a position or a course of action that was impractical, injurious or immoral. Sometimes they’d hit the trifecta – and the entire nation would lose.
Having read Animal Farm, Atlas Shrugged and Harrison Bergeron in rapid succession on her own initiative – The Stiletto’s teachers preferred to assign Johnny Got His Gun and a passel of deservedly obscure works notable only for not having been written by dead white European males – The Stiletto was in the throes of an identity crisis.
Though ready to leave the reflexive, unthinking liberalism of a misspent childhood behind, The Stiletto inexplicably registered as a Democrat as soon as she was old enough to get a voting card – along with everyone else she knew. Having grown up in the bluest city of one of the bluest states, The Stiletto never met a Republican or a conservative until entering the workforce after college. Not parents, not friends’ parents, not classmates, not teachers, not professors. No one who could be a role model, or who could refute all the sinister fables The Stiletto had been told about Republicans and conservatives.
The Stiletto was living a lie, and found it increasingly uncomfortable to listen to the incoherent invective, wild accusations and shopworn rhetoric that passed for political discourse among the Dems and liberals with whom she shared her life and her downtime. But The Stiletto was not yet ready to embrace the politics that dared not speak its name, fearing the opprobrium that would surely rain down from all sides.
The Stiletto remembers attending a nuclear disarmament rally during this period of psychic Angst – naturally, only the US would disarm – shouting out some ridiculous rhyming slogan while pumping her fist in the air, hoping to fool those around her that she was just like them so they wouldn’t suspect the unholy yearnings stirring within her heart.
The Stiletto dealt with the disconnect by becoming intensely apolitical, which was a 180-degree personality change. One of The Stiletto’s earliest memories was staying up all night watching the Democratic National Convention with her parents (nobody we knew ever paid the slightest attention to the Republican National Convention). All atwitter, we would all wait with bated breath to see whether our preferred candidate that year would get enough votes from the delegates to win the nomination - and which state would put him over the top. Happy days are here, again!
Dazed and confused, The Stiletto sat out a slew of national, state and local elections. The Stiletto ought to be ashamed for not voting, especially when all those purple fingers come to mind, but she might well have voted Democrat out cowardice so it’s just as well.
The transformation of the Party of Nixon to the Party of Reagan emboldened The Stiletto to shake off her self-imposed torpor and effect a “reverse-Arianna.” Happily, having embarked on their own journey to sanity during the years spanning Jimmy Carter’s disastrous presidency and Bill Clinton’s dishonorable presidency, The Stiletto’s parents eventually met her at the finish line.
[Note: The Stiletto’s mother is still a registered Democrat, and always assures the party hacks who make the get-out-the-vote phone calls on Election Day (union members getting paid with her dues, by the way) that she will vote for whatever miscreant they’ve put on the ballot, though she always votes straight down the Republican line. You could say she relishes her role as a saboteur.]
Unfortunately, the rest of the family was left behind (in the political sense; The Stiletto is unqualified to predict how any of us will be judged in the afterlife).
[Disclosure: The ages, genders, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations of these kinfolk, as well as their relationships to The Stiletto, are deliberately unspecified so as to protect the criminally inane.]
Let’s start with the relative who is against the War on Terror, against the war in Iraq, decries Israel's all-out war against Hezbollah and Hamas as a "disproportionate" response to the kidnapping and killing of its citizens and soldiers, and thinks Israel should be “given back” to the Palestinians.
Then there’s an entire branch of The Stiletto’s family who live in Canada. They believe that America is an imperialist bully. If only the US were as reasonable and polite as Canada in its dealings with the rest of the world, then 9/11 would not have happened, eh? The Stiletto should mention that these relatives have no moral qualms about vacationing in Cuba every winter, supporting Castro’s murderous totalitarian regime with their disposable income.
And finally, several members of The Stiletto’s family reside in France. They pretty much believe the same things about Les Etats-Unis as the Canadians do, and want the US to take the cheese-eating surrender monkey route and pull all its troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else they are deployed.
Sheesh! It’s a wonder The Stiletto turned out right. Leaving aside The Stiletto’s relatives by marriage, perhaps the rest were all adopted …
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