Here is my confession: Donald Trump is imprisoned in my closet.
He’s been there for months; I haven’t dared let him out, for fear that his presence might be discovered. My treatment of Trump does not conform with the Geneva Conventions. He’s spent all this time in a dark space, without ventilation, food or water.
My only defense is puzzlement: Like most people in California, I badly want to get rid of Donald Trump. I just can’t figure out how.
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To be clear: My Donald Trump looks like the new president of the United States. My Trump also hasn’t released any tax returns. But my Trump is not that Trump.
How do I know? The Trump in my closet has never insulted Mexicans, threatened Muslims, boasted about assaulting women or cozied up to Vladimir Putin.
My Trump is a piñata. He is about half the size of President Trump. Unfortunately, he has become, like the human Trump, inescapable.
I never thought my Trump would hang around this long. I bought him online in 2015 – as a 50th birthday gift for a journalist friend in Sweden. I thought a Trump piñata might offer an opportunity for amusing intercultural exchange at his party. So I paid to have Trump shipped direct.
But Swedish officials, for reasons I don’t understand, wouldn’t let him into their country, deporting him back to me in Southern California. Trump sat in a box among kids’ toys until the kids opened the box and started asking questions about his lack of private parts.
So, early in 2016, I relocated Trump to the closet. I figured, like other Americans, that the non-piñata Trump wouldn’t last. But as he kept winning primaries, I felt unsettled about the unhinged white nationalist in my closet.
I tried to give him away. No one would take him. My Trump experienced bipartisan rejection – more liberally minded people didn’t want to be near the piñata. And more conservative minded people didn’t want any association that would force them to explain to friends why they might support or oppose him.
Desperate, I repurposed Trump. Noisy birds had taken up residency in our yard, so I attached him to our grapefruit tree – my very own Trumpian scarecrow. Unfortunately, he scared the neighbors more than the birds. One asked me how I could be a Trump supporter. Another asked me if my suspending Trump from the tree was a form of lynching.
Trump went back in the closet. But I didn’t give up. After his frightening convention speech, I put him out with the trash. But Trump was too large to fit in one trash can, and the company that handles our city’s trash won’t pick up oversize items.
After his victory in November, I asked my family if we could seize the opportunity of a December birthday party to let the piñata fulfill its intended destiny. But my wife, who stays out of politics, didn’t think it was a good idea.
So I remain stuck with Trump, just like my fellow Californians. We can’t support him – more than two-thirds of us voted against him. But we can’t fight him at every single turn – he’s the federal government and we still need our Social Security, Medicare and military.
There is, of course, the lingering temptation to stuff him with candy and beat him until he breaks into pieces. But, now that he’s president, would someone call the cops or the Secret Service?
So I’ve reconciled myself to keeping him in the closet for the foreseeable future. I won’t ever be comfortable with Trump, but we can coexist. At least the piñata version of our president hasn’t told me any lies.
Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.