Hello! My name’s David Schmader.
I’m a writer and solo performer, and there’s a thing that happens to performers that I imagine every performing artist will recognize, and it involves the five minutes right before you go onstage, when there’s no more time to prep or practice and you’re just … waiting.
I imagine people in bands or full plays fill this time with in-jokes and rituals or at least group commiseration. But as a solo performer, I’m alone, trapped with my mind racing about “Do I know my lines?” and “Is this even a good idea?” and on one extreme night, I was driven to steer all this angst and mental stress into a prayer.
And I hate God. But I’m not an atheist. For me, God is like Aerosmith: Just because I’m not into them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Anyway, my backstage prayer was a ridiculous affair, with me on my knees literally begging God for mercy: PLEEEASE GOD SAAAAVE MEEEEE! And it worked, by which I mean it ate up the minutes and dispelled my neurosis and allowed me to get on with things. That’s the thing about prayer: It’s so effective you don’t even have to believe in it for work. And so now I will again set my sights on a divine entity I don’t believe in, with a most heartfelt prayer.
Editor's note: Salty language and adult themes ahead.
Grant me the strength to withstand the daily tornados of dangerous Trump lunacy that come so fast they defy processing. Give me the strength to remain outraged without killing myself or anyone else.
Beyond that, dear God, grant me patience, grant me patience, and fucking hurry up about it.
First, grant me patience with all the well-meaning, good-hearted people posting stuff to Facebook, about how those of us in the Trump resistance need to find methods of communication that don’t make those on the other side feel judged or mocked or spoken down to.
Forgive me, but fuck you. I do not negotiate with terrorists, and I do not develop alternative communication strategies to assuage the feelings of bigots. But I understand other people have larger hearts than mine, so please stop me from hitting post on bitchy Facebook comments I will immediately regret.
I will also need patience with those members of society who insist on noting how times of oppression lead to vital art. While this may be true, fuck you for saying it now. Acknowledging great art made under traumatic oppression is something to be done after the fact, when the oppression has been survived and we’re soothing ourselves with the consolation-prize moral of “At least we got great art of it.” But whetting our lips over all the hot new oppression art coming down the pipe is gross and makes me want to shove, and I count on you, God, to stay my shoving arms.
And I know I just said I don’t care about building bridges to the enemy, but dear God, please help me try to empathize. Right now, when I try to empathize with the type of person who cares so much about strong borders and illegal immigration and “shaking up Washington” that they’re willing to vote for a racist sexual predator who never stops lying, the most fitting comparison I can make is porn.
Dear God, as you know, I occasionally enjoy pornography, and thank you for making people so sexy. Despite being gay, I occasionally watch straight porn, because gay porn is filled with manicured male sex objects and I like shlubs—average guys who look like maintenance workers and divorced dads, who are unaware of themselves as sex objects in a way that is so distinctly masculine.
So I watch straight porn, to get my shlub fix, and of course this requires ignoring all sorts of horrors. I am not talking about labias, which are great. For me, labias are like Radiohead—mysterious and beautiful, just not my thing. The horrors I must look past to enjoy straight-porn shlubs involve things like the female partner’s glassy heroin eyes and scenes of sexist degradation and alleged mothers teaching daughters to suck [bleep]. Still, I ignore all this revolting stuff to focus on my beloved shlub … and that is the closest I can get to empathizing with a Trump voter.
Dear God, please send me a better metaphor for this.
Also, I will not wish injury on another person, but please see that Ivanka Trump lives the rest of her life in a financial state that necessitates off-brand, black-market plastic surgery. We as a nation deserve to see her amoral vanity carved into her ever-more dessicated head, preferably on the covers of magazines next to gum in the checkout aisle. I need this, O Lord.
Finally, please take extra care of those people who, unlike me, can’t hide their minority status behind white male skin and a Ned Flanders costume. The visible minorities. The Muslims. The recent immigrants. The transgender. The differently abled. If you help us keep these people safe, I might even start believing in you.
David Schmader performed this piece as part of OUTRAGE ONSTAGE, held at the Sanctuary in West Seattle in honor of #NotMyPresidentsDay on Feb. 20.
The Seattle Story Project is an ongoing compilation of first-person reflections published at KUOW.org. To submit a story or note one you've seen that deserves more notice, contact Isolde Raftery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.616.2035.