Image by the White House
Late one afternoon, on the Saturday between the end of the Republican convention and the start of the Democratic convention, I was out in the garden sadly cutting down the last stalks of day lilies and deadheading Shasta daisies. The day had been dry, hot, and still, but thick clouds and a light breeze promised some cooling shadows and perhaps a needed shower.
It is the third year of the garden and in its junior year the plants are established, lush, and tall. People walking by stop and tell me they have the same yellow coneflower in their gardens at home, but theirs are nowhere near as tall. Sometimes, I hypothesize with them that perhaps my garden sits on a nuclear outflow pipe.
The foliage almost hides the blue Hillary Clinton campaign sign that we put up in the beginning of the summer. We poked the banner’s wire posts into the cracks of our crumbling front brick stoop.
Our front sidewalk becomes a conveyor belt of pedestrian traffic in July and August. Since we put the sign up, I have been able to conduct a study of Hillary support. It is a random anecdotal sample, not the artificial intelligence that is polling.
Gay men shout “Hillary!” as they slalom their bikes through stalled traffic on the way to the beach. Russian tourists stop and take pictures. It could be surveillance. Several times I’ve seen women admire the garden, notice the Hillary sign, then look back to their men, as if dreading their response. When their men start shaking their heads and mumbling, the women seem to take them by the arm to steady them and move along.
As I carried a bundle of cuttings out the front gate, I noticed a small, white piece of paper stuck to the upper right corner of the sign. The six-by-two-inch paper was attached to the sign with three small bits of masking tape. On the paper, in all caps, someone had scratched with a black ballpoint pen the word CRUCKET.
I stood looking at the crabbed font like a Will Shortz puzzler in a timed event. Crucket? Cricket? A variation on f**kit? Croquet? I used my inside voice to sound it out. Was that “crucket” with a long U? Or a short U? I tried it with Hillary. Hillary Crucket? Crucket Hillary. Mystery solved. Crooked Hillary.
People, right now I’d like to tell you something very, very important. It was not me who did it. Not me trying to make an ironic point about the illiteracy, cowardice, cheesiness, and danger of Trump supporters. Believe me, people. Not me. When a man who is a joke insists on being taken seriously, there is no irony.
I showed my partner the small slip of anonymous protest signage. We both went into high-alert CSI mode. Why would someone take the time to find paper, tape, and pen to do that? When did they do it? Where were we at the time? Who were the barbarians at the gate?
Our reaction might seem disproportionately paranoiac. It was a yard invasion, not a home invasion. It was a form of civic engagement. But it felt as if the army of Internet trolls incarnated as delegates and howling, “Lock her up!” in Cleveland had been let loose and were now embedded in garden gnomes in Provincetown. We were unwitting players in a sinister real-life version of Pokémon GO.
I have trimmed back the phlox in front of our Hillary sign. We’re locking the doors. w
Kate “The Hannah Arendt of Humor” Clinton is a humorist.