One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity. . . .
— Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Human All Too Human
It caused unwitting confusion. The trump had been focused on Easter for several weeks. Although not a religious man, he had a sense that for many of his followers, the Resurrection of Christ was one of the most important days of the year even though its celebration was subject to the vagaries of the calendar in terms of precise placement.
The trump has never suggested that he is as important as Christ although it is not hard, when listening to him wallow in words, to conclude that if he does not think himself as important, he believes he comes in a close second. It has not occurred to him to consider that the beauty of the language attributed to Christ, and the crudeness and incomprehensibility of his own utterances cause most people to reject any notion that he is a close second. That, of course, does not cause the trump to think less highly of himself.
Although not a believer in any god, the trump realized that for political reasons it made great good sense for him to proclaim the day of Christ’s Resurrection to be the day to give his devout followers relief from the confinement imposed on American citizens by those wishing to protect us from COVID-19. As the trump proclaimed, when announcing our redemption from house arrest, it would happen on Easter Sunday to coincide with the resurrection of Christ.
As it turned out, those who were less wise than the trump, but better schooled in the ways of the virus, knew ending the quarantine as the trump proposed would jeopardize the lives of millions of people living in the United States. They persuaded the trump that that was a bad idea. That reduced the trump’s anticipation of Easter Sunday, the day he had thought was going to give his followers much better reason for celebrating than a resurrection that occurred long before the trump was even born.
With Easter off the table, the trump attention shifted to another festive time of year to which he always looked forward. That festive occasion comes in the fall and offers the pleasing symmetry to Easter in that it is almost exactly six months later—Halloween! And awareness of his new focus explains his aversion to the idea of wearing a mask. It has nothing to do with the coronavirus—it has to do with Halloween.
Halloween is an event that has a special place in the trump heart. He knows that lessons learned as a child wandering New York City Streets on Halloween gave him the skills that made him the success he believes himself to be. It was those wanderings that gave him an understanding of the true meaning of “trick or treat.” As a child he understood it to mean that if an adult did not give him what he wanted when he went to the door and announced “trick or treat,” it was OK to dump garbage on the entrance or put soap on windows of the offending family’s house. As he grew older, tricking or treating became one of his most useful tools in business dealings with other people and institutions. If they did not accommodate his needs, he would use every trick in the book to exact revenge. Examples of that can be found in the myriad of people whose lives and livelihoods were destroyed by the trump’s frequent use of bankruptcy to eliminate obligations he had to those who had helped him out of situations in which he was in financial distress.
And that brings us to the mask. And it may all have been a misunderstanding. The people who were suggesting he wear a mask were thinking of the virus. The trump thought they were making suggestions for what he should wear at Halloween. And the trump has not yet decided what costume he will wear next Halloween. In fact he and Jared Kushner, who usually helps him decide about matters of great significance, have not even had discussions about Halloween. And thus, the trump finds it preposterous that people standing next to him at the podium, people who know less than he about almost anything he can think of, should be dictating his Halloween costume. For all anyone knows, it might be spoiled if it included a mask. And therein the reason for his decision to shun the mask. And, as noted, it was probably just a misunderstanding.
Like the trump, the rest of us will be waiting with bated breath for the next Halloween—not because we are eager to see whether the trump Halloween costume includes a mask, but because less than two weeks later, we may learn the name of a new president of the United States. Awaiting that news creates more suspense in most of us than waiting to behold a costumed Trump.