For Thanksgiving I’m here at Dad’s regressing grungily in what used to be my bedroom and is now my stepmother Deb’s museum of Christian kitsch. It is the very room in which I discovered, some eighteen years ago, that while most girls my age were masturbating to videos of Sid Vicious or David Bowie, I could only wank off on President Reagan pulling marines out of Beirut. Max, who has been increasingly skittish about my autoerotic proclivities, is off shooting pool in some dive that makes him feel single. When I go online to distract myself, CNN announces that Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted billionaire zealot, has been surrounded by hostile forces, and I can sort of relate.
I capture a MPEG of Osama in his ash-white turban, and my hand slips unbidden into my slacks. I find myself thinking without nearly enough irony that if he wasn’t a mass murderer and didn’t hate women and modern life and experimental sex and Buddhist art and Westerners not to mention shaving he would look awfully appealing. “With his gentle eyes, skeletal frame, long black beard and habitual Kalashnikov,” as Judith Miller wrote in the Times… my body knows many ways to finish that sentence, all of which, I fear, would horrify my husband.
In the next room, stepmother Deb is HEPA vacuuming her mail to eliminate anthrax spores so she can live to see that part of the Second Coming when God sends everyone but her and her friends to Hell. I realize that I must escape this soulless modern world immediately. I mean, why snort your fundamentalism diluted with Western democracy when you can shoot it pure and uncut in Kandahar?
Disguised as a woman, I sneak over the Afghan border. There, passing as just another starving refugee in a burqa, I make my way to Al-Qaeda’s cave-du-jour where I find Osama in his pajamas, surrounded by gorgeous bodyguards.
In still shots he’s an all-purpose caricature of The Enemy: his hooked nose, thick sensual lips and goaty beard evoke Bush’s idea of pure evil, Halloween’s devil mask, the Nazi’s cartoon Jew. But, peeking shyly through the mesh of my veil, I see that when he’s in motion, there’s an elegance and softness to him.
Osama makes one of his famous hand gestures. His forearm moves in a slight arc. The wrist, like a diva drifting towards a divan, leads his long fingers, supple as silk, into a swoon. No wonder Condoleeza Rice banned his videos: he has the hands of a saint, or at least a great gynecologist. At his signal, his bodyguards leave, and we’re alone.
“We don’t hate Islam,” I reassure him, taking a page from my president. (How can we, when we’re completely ignorant about it?) “Also, I think it was pathetic of South Park to suggest that you have a tiny dick and fuck camels,” I add, to let him know I would never stoop to facile stereotyping, even for a laugh.
“Get out of Israel,” he says, softly.
“Make me,” I dare him.
Suddenly he’s infiltrating my every border, and I’m pounding his rugged terrain without mercy. Am I scared? Of course. Sex with the enemy is the one sin they’ll burn you at the stake for, whether you’re in Kabul or at Comedy Central. But in the clinch with Osama I no longer care what the world thinks or whether those thugs from the Northern Alliance ever relinquish Kabul. Here, in my own private Afghanistan, I can’t lose at holy war. The second his little Muslim martyr explodes his way into heaven and glory and revenge everlasting my Judeo-Christian free-market swallows him up and spits him out as a widget.
Before I go, I plant a little bug in Osama’s beard so our special forces can smoke him out of his hole and I can collect the $25 million reward. Chalk one up for Downtown Manhattan.
Max returns to find me sitting full-lotus as Deb’s edging tool bonks against the door of my retreat. Miraculously, when my husband sees bin Laden’s face stuck onto the body of an adonis on my laptop, he smiles with amusement instead of disapproval. Was it Deb’s negative example? The Taliban’s? Today he seems willing to enjoy my conflation of lust and power as warmheartedly as Bush does Putin’s.
So excited am I by his change of heart that when I fold into Max’s arms just then our bodies run together like those two chocolate turkeys that I mistakenly left on the radiator the night before. What follows, although too sticky and sweet to detail, is a genuine act of Thanksgiving. Which doesn’t stop me from wondering afterwards how I might someday get him to play Condi Rice.
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