I tried to be Donald Trump for a day.
Without the bank account or the properties or the advisors or the retinue or the ex-wives or the $3 billion name. But with the vocabulary.
So, when I left the dog park, at 7 in the morning, I turned to the women (and men) who were assembled there with their grazing pets, and said, amiably, “Later, fat cows.”
When I ran into a fellow writer at a local coffee bar, I greeted her in great solidarity: “Hello, disgusting animal.”
Walking back home, I saluted another woman I knew: “Good morning, dog.”
And I discovered that I couldn’t be Donald Trump for even ten minutes. It’s hard to talk this way. From the start, the phrases just wouldn’t come off my tongue the right way – the commonplace insulting way that Trump uses them. “Dog,” which I say to my dog all the time, came off like “dawg” or, more accurately, like the old-school “dou-awg” -- just the way my old Bronx-born buddy Connie Flynn used to say it (she also called me “Rou-awb”). “Disgusting animal,” when I voiced it at a person, felt like a serious epithet – much worse than ‘fucking asshole.’ And I uttered “fat cows” so tentatively I’m sure it sounded like I was clearing my throat.
Now, I curse just as much as anyone else. I believe in curse words. I value them. I think pronouncing them is healthy. I like cursing in English and every other language I have ever tried to learn (‘yarak,’ for instance, means ‘dick’ in Turkish -- and is a far more forbidden and vulgar and absolutely awful expression than it is in English, so don’t trying saying it to a Turk.) Curses are useful and expressive and, often, incredibly apt. Indeed, I swear, I can curse with such liberality that at times I wonder if I have Tourette’s.
Which is to say, I can be a very vulgar human being. But I couldn’t begin to say the things Donald Trump seems to say every day and not feel like a disgusting animal.
Try it. And then be prepared to acknowledge that there’s only one word that can describe someone who talks this way in public on a regular basis as a matter of principle and as an honest expression of who they are and then doubles down on it when called to account: “Yarak.”
update half a day later:
When I wrote the first part of this post perhaps 12 hours ago, I let something interesting sputter out in a feeble ending.
For sure, Trump is yarak. But that's not a particularly revelatory conclusion. And, of course, in saying he's yarak, I am doing to Trump what he is doing to others.
What stands out to me now is one line in the middle of my rant: that it’s hard to say the things Trump is saying.
This is true. It's very hard. When you call someone a disgusting animal, or a fat cow, or a pig, or a dog, there’s no way you don’t know exactly what you’re saying.
Of course, @realDonaldTrump wrote some of these things on twitter – and it’s far easier to be nasty in 140 characters than in person. Flaming was a thing back when email started, and it remains a thing on social media today.
But try it and you’ll see. Try really saying these things to people. When you do that, the meaning gets heightened. There's no playing around. No wiggle room. No chance for interpretation.
You have to mean what you say.