In the weeks leading up to the election of Zaphod “Biff Tanner” Beeblebrox as president of the United States, I grew secretly more worried that Clinton wouldn’t get her campaign over the line. I kept hearing reports from friends who traveled the USA that they saw a ton of Trump signs in the midwest but never a single Hillary sign. So, in the last month of the campaign, as the polls tightened even after revelations that Trump bragged about sexual assault, I resigned myself to the inevitable: Trump was going to win.
My logic was simplistic: the polls were wrong. I thought there were a number of people in places like Pennsylvania who, when polled, didn’t want to admit to another human that they were voting for the racist candidate. So, they simply said “undecided”. It doesn’t take a lot of people like that to win a close election.
I steeled myself against the inevitable. I admitted to myself that Trump was going to win. And when election night came, I didn’t need to grieve, I had already done that.
What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was the fact that the Republicans might win it all and what that means for the future. Over the last week what I’ve seen is Trump and the Republicans gleefully lay out their plan to gut the social safety net, slash environmental protections, give away trillions in tax cuts for the wealthy, raise taxes on single mothers (and fathers like me) and the poor, and do all of the unrealistic things Trump proposed like building a wall and deporting 3 million humans.
So, now, every time I open my news feed I literally just say “ugh” and close the app. Similarly, I will switch on NPR, get two stories in, and then there will be some story about Rudy Giuliani being the next Secretary of State and I have to switch it off. Why were people paying Rudy millions of dollars for speeches? How could he possibly consult Qatar on security? Who wants to hear Giuliani speak about anything? I hear stuff like that and I get an overwhelming urge to just flee the news.
I have the exact same reaction, by the way, every time Arsene Wenger loses to Jose Mourinho. There have been so many losses, and the losses have come in such a predictable fashion; Mourinho’s men sit deep and kick Arsenal all over the pitch, then hit Arsenal with a counter attack, and win the game without really breaking a sweat. It’s formulaic now.
I’m pretty sure Wenger’s 1000th game was the breaking point for me not wanting to write about Arsenal every day. I can’t just write about something without doing research, and research meant that I had to read all the papers, and listen to people talk about Arsenal. That meant wallowing in the mire of that loss. And it was such a heartbreaking loss that I couldn’t bring myself to face it. I fled and to a certain degree I’m still running.
This time I’m prepared. Arsenal are going to lose this game. Mourinho’s authoritarianism is going to trump Wenger’s anarchic artistry once again.
And yes, I know that this is the worst Man United team in my lifetime. They are missing Zlatan, who would have been a huge bully against Arsenal’s aerially weak back line. I’m also aware that Mourinho is already imploding, he seems to be accelerating his “third year” syndrome. Teams get sick of Mourinho blaming them for every fault while bloviating endlessly about how great he is and how well he prepares the players. That process used to take three years. But with Chelsea it only took two and now with United, he hasn’t even made it a full season and already the cracks are starting to show. United also seem to have huge problems integrating world-record-fee Paul Pogba into the game and their inspirational leader Wayne Rooney was recently captured at a friend’s wedding drunk.
But Arsenal have bad news of their own. Santi Cazorla is Arsenal’s only needle player and he will be out for an undetermined amount of time. Arsenal’s inspirational right back, the player whose runs up and down the right boh inspire attack and recover for defense, is finally injured (it was inevitable) and will be out for four weeks. In his place is almost certainly going to be Carl Jenkinson, a player whose memories of playing against Man U include Arsenal’s 8-2 loss — a game in which he was sent off in the 77th minute, much to his relief I’m sure. And Arsenal’s most valuable player, Alexis Sanchez, apparently texted Arsene Wenger to say that he’s OK but just played 84 minutes of a grueling international match, with a bandaged leg, after having to sit out of the match prior due to injury.
So, yeah, I’m just going to go ahead and call this one: it will be close but Mourinho will win.
Unlike with the Trump victory, however, I think I’m prepared for fallout of the Arsenal loss. We’ve already started in with the handshake thing, Wenger has agreed to shake hands. That’s a dog whistle that the press like to sound about Wenger. Let’s see, I suspect that when we lose there will be renewed calls for Wenger to resign. That’s a no-brainer. Oh! Yes! One of Alexis or Özil will get injured and thus ruin the rest of the month’s matches. What else could go wrong… Red card for Xhaka. There will be the inevitable articles with titles like “what does Ramsey actually do” and “what is the point of Theo Walcott?” Oh yeah, the “Arsenal TV” post-match interviews with fans should be a lot of fun, and provide us all with a real-life glimpse at the metaphor “gnashing of teeth.” And there will be organized protests, by which I mean someone will suggest something real meaningful, like a march to the stadium to go watch the game they are already going to watch, while holding some A3 paper with something witty written on it like “Thanks for the memories Arsene! Time to go!”.
Or Arsenal could win.
But I’m not counting on it.