I became a writer so as to not work much, write something brilliant every four years, and retire at 40. My plan back then was to retire in Italian Tuscany and spend the day inebriated on Chianti, strolling through the countryside, and, perhaps, without too much stress, write a collection of poems dedicated to the thousand shades of the sun as it falls on the vineyards of Montalcino. Maybe grow some tomatoes — effortlessly — and dine on them every day with plenty of olive oil, burrata, very cold Lambrusco, and a few handfuls of those heavenly spices from San Gimignano.
Now I’m a few months shy of 40, God willing, I work more than ever, live a few thousand miles from Italian Tuscany, and the closest thing I’ve written to a poem is a column about the synaptic void in Joe Biden’s head. The only Chianti I’ve ever put in my mouth was sent to me by an Italian friend out of charity two or three Christmases ago. And as for retirement, barring an emergency wedding to some rich widow of the European aristocracy, there’s no news on the horizon. Hell must be something like this.
Someone said that if you want to make God laugh all you have to do is tell him your plans. And so far in 2021, all of ours are burning.
There are people who still believe that being a writer is glamorous. I guess that’s normal. When I was at college studying sociology with a bunch of metalheads who wanted to change the world, there were guys who thought sociology was sexy, or at least as sexy as watching an intellectual confrontation between Max and Weber at nine o’clock in the morning can be. Between you and me, some colonoscopies are more exciting.
Writer, soccer player, singer. Those were the dreams we had two or three decades ago. Sometimes, because of my journalistic (i.e. psychoanalytical) work, I end up drinking beers with some restless youth, head brimming with projects. I can’t help but feel astounded as to how their horizons have narrowed in just one year. Bohemians, who a couple of years ago wanted to be writers like me, now dream only of being able to go out one day without masks on and glimpse the smile of a beautiful woman once again. They don’t care whether they write or clean the floor with their tongues in a morgue, or any other kind of slavery, as long as they can enjoy a little bit of freedom without masks, and taste a few sips of beauty.
But no. Neither do I want to give the impression that I share the opinion of those melodramatic commentators who lament the harsh reality that has befallen those who are now on the verge of adolescence. On my scale of tragedies, wearing a mask is a pain in the ass, but it doesn’t reach five drama points out of 10, even at that age when the two main things are done with your mouth uncovered: drinking and kissing. There have been far worse times.
In general, any moment of the 20th century has been worse, including the world wars. It happens that in war heroism it is easier to cultivate. Passionate patriotism, intense emotion and all that. And besides, and I know this is not politically correct, it’s fun to see how everything explodes.
It is just not the same to tell the grandchildren that one night you had to cross an open field under enemy bombing, stepping over the still warm corpses of your comrades, and losing several body parts in the detonations as it is to tell them that one day you had to go out into the street with a mask embellished with a kissing emoticon. The great tragedy of the newer generations is that their greatest feat is having to wash their hands a lot and wear something to cover their mouths. Our grandmothers were more restrictive than the coronavirus in these matters: hands always clean and mouth closed if you don’t want to get slapped. Seriously, with only our pandemic to work with, God could never have driven good old Job up the wall. The day Generation Z has to tell all this to their grandchildren, will be quite pathetic.
Someone said that if you want to make God laugh all you have to do is tell him your plans. And so far in 2021, all of ours are burning. Some of us can’t even blame the pandemic or the government. I think my aim to retire at 40 by devoting myself to letters was about as optimistic as any socialist plan to revive the economy.
Anyway, and in this I agree with the Left, I am not willing to accept my mistakes, and I will not give up my pipe dreams even when reality slaps me on the face. So I intend to continue insisting on my plans for an imminent retirement, on my walks under the Tuscan sun, a glass of wine in my hand, on writing just a few verses as an old man in love, and on winking at those beautiful Italian women who walk Mediterranean grace across the sloped plaza in Siena, when the moon is painting the scene with its pale darkness. You see, babe, I don’t need much. At least compared to Hunter Biden.
The problem is that some dense, skeptical nights, sniffing at the stars on the other side of my mask, I know I’m being no more realistic than Rachel Levine’s sexual politics.
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, The American Spectator, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and is a columnist for several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website: www.itxudiaz.com.
Translated by Joel Dalmau
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