I just got back from a trip to China. I go there sometimes, because there are places where the opium dens of old still welcome road-weary Westerners like myself. I follow the trails of men (better men than I) like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and romantic poets in search of kindred spirits. Along the way I wind up in the deep, dark places on the other side of the globe where I can entertain the bizarre side of me that’s just a little too extreme for home, with the little town adjacent to a corn field, where each house has a basketball hoop and no one would ever put up a little sticker in their doorway that said: No Solicitors Allowed.
In China, a country that is infamously controlled by a Communist regime, for the right price you can do just about anything. In a sick and twisted way their corruption grants me the kind of freedom that would be hard to come about stateside. But I digress.
Imagine the surprise upon my return to find out that the president had endorsed gay marriage. It reminded me of a dream I had after a drug-fueled bender, where Chinese prostitutes (or were they North Korean dissidents who were sold into slavery?) patted my head with damp cotton towels and cared for me while the drugs worked their way through my system — it goes without saying I tipped them well.
In my dream the year was 2008. President Obama found me in a dimly lit room, worrying about this and that and any number of things that keep a man up late at night. He ran his fingers through my hair, rested his hands on my cheeks and whispered into my ear that everything was going to be all right. He placed a kiss upon my lips. There, in Kubla Khan, I gave myself up to him. And as I stood there in my most vulnerable state, naked, he talked about unemployment and debt and wars and torture and all those problems that would come to and end if I just stayed in that special place with him forever. He was black and white and gay and straight — young, but not too young, old but not too old — and I decided right then and there: I love this man.
And then I woke up. The wars still raged. The detention centers were still open. The national debt was worse, and millions of Americans were out of a job. I then remembered why I went overseas, on an airline that still allows men to smoke on planes because sane adults know that looking out the window at 30,000 feet as you take a long drag is like nothing else you’ll ever experience.
Airport security is good, but apparently customs doesn’t check to see if you’ve been going old school on opium … yet. I collected my bags, but before I did I caught the news from one of the televisions hanging above a departure gate: the president supports gay marriage. The announcement came during election season. He still believes it’s an issue to be decided upon on a state-by-state basis. Unemployment is over eight percent, and no one seems to notice that the price of peanut butter is outrageous these days (I eat a lot of peanut butter).
I gave myself to you in Kubla Kahn, Mr. President, but it was all just a dream, wasn’t it? It was all just an illusion. A good one, mind you, but an illusion nonetheless. Well, I don’t like pale imitations of the real thing and I won’t get burned again.
Does anyone out there have some opium?