The Secret Life of Kitty Lyons: John McCain

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The Secret Life of Kitty Lyons by Maggie Cutler  


McCain Is Able

All presidential candidates turn me on, in that casual way any powerful stranger can. But if my husband Max knew how I feel about Senator John McCain, he might not spend so many hours a day editing that no-doubt-brilliant documentary of his about a bunch of people who aren’t me.


My attraction to McCain is partly a dad thing, obviously. Hearing him go on about his Navy pilot experience reminds me of the years before my parents’ divorce when Dad used to fly me around the room going, “Rum-rumm, kheeeoooo” like a jet. I yearn to do that with John, and with a six year-old’s unguarded heart.


But the clincher is his “American Maverick” campaign poster. You can order it off his website for fifteen dollars American, and I’m awfully tempted. It shows him as a scrappy warrior of thirty, all butched out in his flight suit with his parachute harness framing his crotch. You can practically smell the musk of his groin. No wonder the Log Cabin Republicans are supporting him — there hasn’t been a candidate that humpy since JFK.


Just knowing that McCain’s campaign is deliberately coming on to me sexually gets me wiggly inside. If he was an Internet stock I’d stay at my computer and research him all day, but as it is, I have to take a break from tweaking my portfolio and sprawl on the couch to tweak myself instead.


Come to Kitty, Lt. Commander John Sidney McC! I want him young, cocky and on the eve of his twenty-third sortie. When he parachutes into my jungle we both feel that wicked thrill you get when you’re about to rewrite the rules. If you’ve never kissed someone your pinko mother describes as a war criminal you’ve no idea what Romeo and Juliet died for.
Are his allies corrupt? Are mine tyrannical? When we kiss I don’t
care. I can smell Tiger Beer on his breath.


At dawn, his small, tough hands gripping the controls, my lover and foe swoops his powerful craft across my delta, buzzing my interior.


“I’m going to make you safe for democracy,” he vows.


“Go ahead and try, air pirate!” I defy him.


We couple in short violent bursts of rolling thunder, the way we mavericks like it, penetrating each other’s airspace, fighting to win or die, and to hell with politics. He’s on target, dodging my guns…


When, pow! I’ve got him. Ejecting into space, he falls from the sky, spiralling, receding, splashing down into my waiting lake, and there, in one paroxysm of history, he is reborn — a mythic war hero!


Five minutes later, John and I have put the entire Vietnam era conveniently behind us. Now he’s the presidential challenger — the old-fashioned higher-purpose and family honor type with added interpersonal skills that everyone from Susan Faludi to Michael Isikoff has been craving, a terrifying species, like the rhino, that becomes beautiful only once endangered. And I, Kitty, am now a pretty, blond Republican heiress with a prescription drug habit, a species on the rise.


He can tell by the way I lick and nibble his manly entitlement that I’ll raise his kids while he runs the world and everything will be true to the creed of his fathers and bankrolled by mine. Girdles will be tight, Herbert Hoover will be heterosexual and everybody will once again take it on faith that what’s good for General Motors is good for them. I can feel his decency swelling beneath my manicured hand, and with the lights off and the blinds drawn, we have quietly gracious, dress-for-dinner, procreative sex to music by the Boston Pops and Lawrence Welk.


Just after I come — this time with a demure sigh as sweet as soft money — he starts to cry.


“Is one of your war wounds acting up, John darling?” I ask.


“No,” he says. “It’s that you deserve better from my party than you’ve been getting.” And with that he picks me up in his aching but willing arms and flies me around the room, Rum-rummm, kheeeeooooo … as we bomb Steve Forbes, George W. and the party establishment to smithereens. Wheee!


But behind my giddy joy lurks a terrible fear. A man who can make the Republican primary this exciting is a man capable of anything. If he spends the next four years in the news, I wonder, can my marriage survive the strain?