The nasty women gather on the heath just after midnight. It is Nasty Women's Sabbath, Election Eve, and they must make haste.
sturdy he-goats and their broomsticks are parked with the valet. Beyond
the circle, their familiar owls and toads and pussycats strut, boasting
of being grabbed or not grabbed.
A will-o'-the-wisp zigzags back and forth over the assemblage (it is bad with directions, like a nasty woman).
They have much to do, and the hour is late.
They must sabotage the career of an upwardly mobile young general named Macbeth.
They must lure an old wizard into a cave and lock him there so that Camelot may fall.
They must finish Ron and Harry's homework for them (again).
They must turn some people into newts and let some of them get better and let others run for office and go on prime-time cable.
must transform all of Odysseus' sailors into swine and then back again,
get Sabrina through high school, freeze Narnia permanently, complete
all sorts of housework for Samantha Stevens.
They have a good many apples to poison and drug and mermaid voices to steal and little dogs to get, too.
And then they have an election to rig.
They must make haste. The vagenda is quite full.
They gather around the bubbling cauldron as the squirrels scurry off into hiding and the bats fly in.
particularly nasty woman who has been juggling a lot at home and at
work lately flies in late on her Swiffer and apologizes; she has not
even had time to put a wart on her nose or a bat into her hair. Nasty
women know that it only looks easy.
The nasty women gather around the cauldron and lean in.
They lean in with the ingredients that they have been gathering for days, for years, to make the potion potent.
of newt. Wool of bat. Woman cards, both tarot and credit. Binders.
Lemons. Lemonade. Letters to the editor saying that a woman could not
govern at that time of month - when in fact she would be at the height
of her power and capable of unleashing the maximum number of
moon-sicknesses against our enemies, but the nasty women do not stoop to
They toss in
pieces of meat and legs with nothing else attached and dolls and
sweethearts and sugars and all the other things they were told to be,
and like it.
They drop in
paradoxes: powerful rings that give you everything and keep you from
getting the job, heels that only move forward by moving backward, skirts
that are too long and too short at the same time, comic-book drawings
whose anatomy defies gravity, suits that become pantsuits when a woman
slips them on, enchanted shirts and skirts and sweaters that can ask for
it, whatever it is, on their own. They take the essence of a million
locker rooms wrung out of towels and drop it in, one drip at a time.
They sprinkle it
with the brains of the people who did not recognize that they were
doctors, pepper it with ground-up essays by respected men asking why
women aren't funny, whip in six pounds of pressure and demands for
perfection. They drizzle it with the laughter of women in commercials
holding salads and the rueful smiles of women in commercials peddling
digestive yogurts. They toss in some armpit hair and a wizened old bat,
just to be safe.
And wine. Plenty of wine. And cold bathwater. Then they
leave it to simmer.
whisper incantations into it, too. They whisper to it years of shame and
blame and what-were-you-wearing and boys-will-be-boys. They tell the
formless mass in the cauldron tales of the too many times that they were
told they were too much. Too loud. Too emotional. Too bossy.
Insufficiently smiling. The words shouted at them as they walked down
the streets. The words typed at them when their minds traveled through
the Internet. Every concession they were told to make so that they took
up less space. Every time they were too mean or too nice or shaped
wrong. Every time they were told they were different, other, objects,
the princess at the end of the quest, the grab-bag prize for the end of
They pour them all into a terrible and bitter brew and stir to taste.
It tastes nasty. It is the taste of why we cannot have nice things, and they are used to that.
Perhaps if the potion works, they will not have to be.
The nasty women have a great deal to do before the moon sinks back beneath the horizon.
But that is all right. They know how to get things done.
Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog for the Washington Post.
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