My student apologized to me for voting for Donald Trump. He regretted it, he said, because he hurt me, and he never thought it would hurt someone like me.
The week before, he sat with me for almost an hour in my office, and we bonded over poverty. He told me how hard it was to be in college with rich friends, to be so different than them. He felt alone.
He’s talented, and I told him so. He’s funny, and aside from some trouble with comma splices, he’s a good writer. He told me that he’s majoring in business, but he wants to be a journalist. I encouraged him to do that.
He’s talented, and he’s sensitive, and he voted for Donald Trump.
The other one, the one called Borges, is the one who skates at the Place de la Concorde on blocks of ice. I walk through the streets of the 8th Arrondissement, and stop for a moment, perhaps touristically now, to look at a book of old photographs; I know of Borges from the posters for sale at German websites. I like the Champs-Élysées, its cafes and guillotines and obelisks; he shares these preferences, but swishes by, vainly, a total showoff. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship, as in the Reign of Terror; I live, I escape the fate of Marie Antoinette and Danton and Robespierre, so that Borges may contrive his skating, and this skating justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid figure eights, but those maneuvers cannot save me, even if he makes the Olympic team. Perhaps his perfect 10 form belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to whomever has coached him, or posed him for what upon careful review is clearly a posed photograph. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, while he will end up for sale online, or hung up in a physics classroom in a high school in Philadelphia. Little by little, thus, by means of confusion, I am becoming him, lassoing cars, and scooting along behind them, much like in Back to the Future, a film I will never see, as I will go blind—not to mention, die roughly one year after its theatrical release, which means that one can assume I never saw it, as I had by that time moved to Switzerland to die from liver cancer, and the IMDb doesn’t record a Swiss theatrical release (though Argentina got it right after Christmas, the bastards). (I did see Citizen Kane, and King Kong, for what it’s worth, and I reviewed them.)
I am in Philadelphia, attending a professional Magic: The Gatheringtournament (Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011). The event runs through Sunday, and throughout the weekend, I’ll be posting updates “from the floor,” so to speak. I’m currently sitting in the pressroom (I have a press pass!) alongside a few other reporters; they’re busy Tweeting and posting about the current tournament standings, what the format looks like, which cards and decks are proving the best. It’s high stakes stuff—one of four invitational tournaments held annually around the world (the last two were in Paris and Nagoya; the next will be in December in San Francisco), with a top prize of $40,000.
All of which, I think, should interest even those who know nothing about the game. Here’s why: