By A. I. Freeman
At this year’s annual physical, the doctor entered the examination room with a grim expression. He said, “Tests confirm you have the onset of Trump Derangement Syndrome.”
I was shaken. “My gosh, I have T.D.S.! How serious is it?”
He replied, “Only Stage One. I’ll share a patient’s history: He was a retired Navy SEAL, a burly rugby prop with Stage Three T.D.S. After taping hours of Fox News, his goal was to eliminate the illness by going cold turkey. He chained himself tightly in to a barber’s chair. He managed to view Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson but then, when Lou Dobbs boasted, ‘Trump is more popular and more productive than F.D.R.,’ hot blood poured out of his eyes and ears like boiling lava.”
“That’s horrible,” I said. “Did he survive?”
“He did, after being rushed to a special clinic in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. There, the media use the Uzbek language, rendering all Trump references on television or in print unintelligible. After a month’s deprivation therapy, he returned to Manhattan. The ailment is in full remission. He is T.D.S. free.”
I pleaded, “What can I do, Doctor? Trump is taking over my life. I’m desperate to get clean.”
He handed me a paper. “These are the official suggestions from the A.M.A. that will lessen your unhealthy obsession with all things Trump.”
I started a comprehensive T.D.S. reduction regimen by scanning headlines about Trump in the Times but never reading the articles. I also stopped perusing the newspaper’s editorials or following its progressive columnists. I accessed the Huffington Post and Politico only once a week, decreasing my online news addiction. I discontinued viewing MSNBC’s programs that derided Trump’s cruelties and his offensive tweets. This total television denial represented the most difficult struggle of my T.D.S. withdrawal. I recognized that a possible relapse—just one-minute watching any of the cable station’s shows—would set back my recovery.
After six weeks, I reached a recuperative stage to confront my most troubling Trumpian fear: when he boasted he could murder someone with impunity, I assumed that I was the target. This created a recurring nightmare of standing outside Trump Tower while he descended the lobby’s escalator, gripping an ancient arquebus. He would exit the building and propel a fatal lead ball into my chest. Onlookers shrieked in terror, but some red-capped Republicans from Iowa cheered, “See how Trump is making America great again.”
To gauge my improved state of wellness, I headed uptown to the ‘killing’ ground at Trump Tower at the southeast corner of East 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. I spotted a college-aged girl carrying a large sign that featured an imitation Disney-style cartoon in full color. It displayed a right profile drawing of the president’s face with a long, tubular nose. Underneath, was printed, “TrumPinnochio—6,500 Lies and Counting.”
She sold postcards of the cartoon for five-dollars each. “I’ll take four,” I said.
She asked in sotto voce, “Are you in the Resistance?”
“No, because I’m reducing my T.D.S.” I answered.
“No. No,” she implored. “Use the T.D.S. like the Force to channel your outrage into acts of defiance.”
I returned home, conflicted by polarizing options: Should I continue to curb my T.D.S. and remain politically passive? Or, should I allow the disorder to flower and realize itself and then start a spirited act of protest?
I gazed again at the faux-Disney image on the postcard. At that moment, I experienced an epiphany as an innovative idea formed in my mind. The animation could be transformed and enlarged to become the TrumPinnochio Transcontinental Billboard. The first outdoor display showing Trump’s cartoon head would be posted in downtown San Francisco. Then, the nose, and only the nose, would travel on billboards parallel to I-80, continuously lengthening, and moving state-by-state eastward. An updated total of Trump’s lies would be written on each new sign. The day before the 2020 presidential election, the cross-country shnozzola trip would end in Manhattan opposite Trump Tower, listing the four-year total of his falsehoods.
I needed to write an actionable plan for the billboard concept and I knew exactly where to find the provocation to begin the project. I turned on MSNBC.
“Trump Derangement Syndrome be damned! Rachel Maddow Show, I’m back!”