Liar’s Poker

Nabokov, one of the great poker faces
Nabokov, a great poker face

Our private self is most amused and our public self is most circumspect.   We pass each other in the store and reveal nothing. The carnival of snark beckons from every screen and we don’t tip our hand.  We are more ears than feet.

Across the city and to the Eastern shore, half of us are not speaking truth aloud.  We listen to the prognostications on cable TV, and enjoy others guessing at our motivation.  We study the faces of strangers like runes. Is she one? Will he be joining her?

The loudest voices doth protest too much.  They have bad poker faces. The quiet ones are putting the affairs of state into order, or carelessly toppling them into disorder, depending on your view. The Never People can no longer take refuge in never.  Certitude is a masquerade. They lie to themselves as much as to their friends.

The elites would rather burn down their institutions than allow Godzilla to breach the perimeter. All lies are permissible in her service.  Ring the klaxon bell.   All hands on deck. Unless secretly, some of them really wouldn’t mind watching her lose. But they’re not telling.

The peasants are inclined to view “Godzilla” as something altogether different. He speaks their banished language.   He carries their pitchfork over his head like Poseidon’s staff.   Perhaps secretly, they are more admiring of the idea of the man than the man himself.  Oh, the satisfaction of watching him pull it off! Then you’re stuck with the guy, and no one is quite sure what that’s going to mean.   There are private bluffs within public bluffs.

Spouses extract declarations of agreement from one another then part company into separate voting booths, clutching secret ballots and hugging doubts.

Friends and neighbors avoid talking about this Thing That Shall Not Be Named. The firecracker sits in the middle of the dinner table, the fuse slowly burning down, while we seek reassurance in our sense of how things should be. Surely there are more of us than there are of them. Right? Right? I know my country. I’ve lived here my whole life.

Nobody really knows, and most of us aren’t telling. We have dice underneath our leather cup and you can’t see.