Don’t Open That Door

WE WERE IN MUSTIQUE, an Eastern Caribbean “hideaway” island, and our taxi driver had just given us a drive-by of Mick Jagger’s estate, Princess Margaret’s winter mansion, and the vacation homes of two or three movie stars whose names didn’t ring a bell, probably because I have not seen a movie since The Exorcist, which scared me so much that for a month I would not get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, certain that Satan was waiting for me behind the shower curtain. It was not easy holding it in all night, but it wasn’t the impossibility it would be now, my prostate currently being the size and consistency of a matzo ball. Not just any matzo ball, but one made by my cousin Linda, whose matzo balls are roughly the dimensions of the first atomic bomb. If President Truman had dropped one of Linda’s matzo balls on Hiroshima, the Japanese would have surrendered in five minutes, and we would not have had to destroy Nagasaki three days later. I will get back to my prostate in a minute, which I promise has to do with Idi Amin.

I saw The Exorcist in a theater in an African-American neighborhood. Chicago is a city where ethnic enclaves are clearly marked by expensive, taxpayer-funded signs that arc over main streets. So it wasn’t like I wandered into the neighborhood accidentally, got caught after the sun went down, and decided, what the heck, may as well see a movie about Satan. No, I went to that theater deliberately, because I happened to be dating Marceline, a black beauty from a wealthy Chicago Gold Coast family, and wanting to show her I was open-minded and adventurous and would therefore work well in her father’s business empire, I picked a theater on the South Side.

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