The Breakfast Table

Miss America for Senate

Dear Bill,

Gosh, I thought you were the serious one in our relationship.

As for disturbing images, the front-page photo of Rick Lazio and Hillary in the New York Times was more gripping to me, and hinted at far more troubling obscenity. They are standing very close to each other wearing identical gray suits and identical giant open-mouth fab-fake toothy guffaws. It’s a picture of their first public “introduction,” and their hands, while they are shaking, look rubberized. Like Miss America contestants, they’ve got these big satin sashes across their chests, and now that I think about it, that’s pretty much how I feel about everybody left running for political office–now that anybody with genuine decency and subtlety has been drummed out–it’s just more Miss Americas. For the talent segment, can we get W. to sing “Nessun dorma” and Al Gore to sing “Send in the Clowns”?

Liam woke up at 8:45 (thank God he’s a log like us) and said, “I want to see the giant squid again.”

I guess we all have squid on the mind. It was a haunting show–those marine biologists or whoever they were, diving down in that ridiculous Captain Nemo vessel to the dark depths of the ocean to catch a never-seen-before glimpse of the mysterious creature alive in its habitat. They were unsuccessful, which was a letdown. But then, later, a fisherman sends the scientists a dead squid–caught in his fishing nets. It’s an enormous male, nearly 20 feet long not counting his tentacles. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the thing, the way it was stretched out on that metal lab table and subjected to all manner of lunatic probing. Yes, the squid was “humble and ugly and just pathetic” but how could you dare describe it as starting to look like “rotting calamari”? There it was, in all its silent hugeness, as the marine scientist told us that the giant sea creature was snagged while it was apparently mating. What a fate! To show us the proof of this, the scientist delicately lifts up a long white slippery tentacle that turns out not to be a tentacle at all, but a penis. And when he pulls on it, pints of stringy white sperm ooze out.

It was so utterly sad, so poignant. The indignity of his end … No trumpets. No fanfare. Not even the comfort of the sea. And I guess that’s how I saw the photograph of the nudes, too. Rather than 150 artist’s models lying face-down and naked on Delancey Street before Spencer Tunick’s camera, imagine if there were 150 giant sea squids there instead. The point of the image, I think, isn’t about sexuality or desire or whether nudity is arousing en masse. It’s about death and sameness and the great undignified and unspecial final surrender.

In any case, I’d rather be among them, face-down, than wearing a suit and a sash.

Enjoy your breakfast.