On November 15, when the Giants lost to the undefeated Patriots in the waning seconds of the game, I slammed my hand down so hard on my coffee table that knick-knacks went flying.
That was the moment I knew how much pent-up anger I had about the terrorist attacks in Paris just 48 hours before. I’m not typically one to beat up my body or my treasured possessions.
Three days later, I saw that it was author Margaret Atwood’s birthday and I thought about how disturbing her dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, was when I read it back in the late 1980s. I started fantasizing about writing my own piece about an alternate world, a place where I could make anything happen. Then I let myself riff on the idea in my journal.
I was surprised by what came pouring off my pen. While I am not a pacifist, I’m also not fond of guns and am in fact ashamed of how we’ve glorified firearms in American society and let the National Rifle Association run roughshod over our politicians.
And yet … this came from brain.
I have a fantasy. We arm every woman in the Middle East. Magically. They wake up one morning and they have weapons. And just as magically, they know how to use them. The guns are hidden from view. Men don’t know they’re there.
They’re eerily calm, the women. They have no desire to use the guns. They’ll only use them when they feel danger, threat, invasion, crossed boundaries.
“Bam!” The only language some of these brainwashed jihadist men know.
Let every vicious, violent, raping, power-hungry prick stare down the barrel of a gun when he crosses the line of some woman who’s just trying to live her life.
“Step back, I’ll drive wherever the hell I want.”
“Back up, wipe the lascivious grin off your face, and pull up your pants or I will send you to your maker.”
“Touch my daughter or try to recruit my son and I’ll mow you down so quick your head will spin.”
“I’m going to school. Get out of my way.”
“I cheated on you with a humane, loving man who was actually here and not out killing people. Deal with it or eat bullets for breakfast. Stone me? Please. I’ll execute you where you stand.”
“I’m 14 and I don’t want to get married to a violent, horny, insecure man. Try to make me and you’ll leave me no choice but to shoot.”
“I’m converting. How do you like them apples, you psycho freak?”
“I’m going out for a walk. Alone. I need some time for myself. Step aside or, you know, breathe no more.”
From one to the next, the women are even-keeled. They don’t overreact. They simply don’t want trouble. No strong-arming. No verbal abuse. No crossing of the threshold that is their safe space. On some level, they hate having to speak this language of guns and stooping to the level of men hell-bent on destroying human life.
The women know there are good, peace-loving, confident men among them who will never need to know they possess weapons. Husbands, brothers, fathers, sons who are kind and soulful and don’t feel threatened by smart, strong women.
But those others, and the ones from all over the world traveling untold miles to join the bloodthirsty bunch, they’re all fair game. The women are fine with a Darwinian outcome. They’ll take their chances in the name of honor, independence and courage. That’s freedom to them.
I almost wish I dreamt all of this while in a deep sleep. It’s such an angry, bitter vision. It needed to come out of me. What is dystopian when awake is utopian while in a sweet slumber. Yes, it would be nice to put my head on the pillow and pick up the fantasy where I left off, envisioning my sister women in a place of power instead of fear for their lives.
Fleeting anger finding its way to expression through a healthy creative impulse.
This way, at least, my furniture stays intact.