Mr. Cope's Cave: Where Does a Trump Stop and a Cruz Begin? 

Junior, have you ever thought about how a person's lips are one of the places where the inside of us and the outside come together into one thing?


Yeah, think about it. Lips aren't quite outside skin, are they? But they're not exactly inside skin, either. It's like they're both at once.

Mr. Cope, I don't get what you're getting at. Inside skin? What the heck is inside skin?

Well, duh. It's the skin that's on the inside of a person, as opposed to the skin that's on the outside.

There's no skin on the inside of people. It wouldn't be skin if it were on the inside.

Of course there's skin on the inside, Veronica. What else would you call that stuff that keeps the insides of a liver or a spleen... a brain, even... from sloshing around, getting all mixed up together?

Uh, I don't know. I'm no doctor. But I've never, ever heard anyone talking about skin on the inside of people. They probably call it membrane... maybe. Like there's your liver membrane and your spleen membrane and your brain membrane. And probably every membrane around every organ has a name of it's own. Doesn't that make sense?

OK, you're probably right about that. But whatever they're called in doctor talk, they are all still membranes, just like the outside skin.

Darn it, Mr. Cope. Skin is not a membrane. It's skin!

Sure it's a membrane. Skin's the membrane that separates our insides from everything else in the world, don't you see? Just think, if all of our gooky parts weren't wrapped up in different skins... membranes, if you will... and then if the whole bundle weren't wrapped up together inside our outside membrane, we'd be oozing into one another like applesauce and chicken noodle soup in the same bowl. Right now, without these membrane-skin things keeping us separate, my gizzard goop could be getting mixed in with your kidney goop. What a mess that would be, huh?

Mr. Cope, why are we talking about this?

See, I was watching this movie last night, and that woman with the big lips was in it... you know who I mean.

No, I don't. Do you mean Jennifer Lawrence?

Maybe. I don't know. Is she the one with big lips?

Well, she's one of the ones with big lips.

So anyway, it got me to thinking about how lips are, like, the transition between the inside of us and the outside. Almost like a swamp where the sea meets the land. Not wet, but not dry, either. Or maybe it's like what zero is between negative numbers and positive numbers. To tell you the truth, I'm still looking for the right metaphor here.

This isn't what you're writing about today, I hope.

Sure is. I was having trouble coming up with a subject, anyway, so I thought... By golly, I'm just going to write about how lips are the... what?... the interface?... is that the word I want?... the interface between our interiors and our exteriors. Where one trades places with the other. A bit of both, but not quite either one. Think about it... are lips outside skin that stretches in? Or are they inside skin that's stretching out?

Mr. Cope, there's so much you could be writing about. You're supposed to be a political columnist, and there's political stuff galore. Gobs and gobs of political stuff. And you're wasting your time on lips?

I'm sick of writing about political stuff, Nancy. I've been writing about political stuff all summer, then all fall. Since forever, it seems. And the more I write about it, the ickier it gets. I want to think about something else for a while.

So... lips?

Yeah... lips. Why not? Lips aren't nearly as icky as some other things I can think of, and I'm taking a beak from icky.

But gosh. Ted Cruz pulled ahead of Donald Trump in Iowa over the weekend. You don't think that's news worth writing about?

Ha. Funny you should bring up Cruz and Trump.


Yeah. Because, see, when I started thinking about how lips are the... the nexus point... is that the word I want? nexus?... how lips are the nexus between our insides and our outsides, it naturally occurred to me that there's another place that's the same thing... only, not nearly so attractive. Know what I mean?

You mean...

Yeah, you know what I mean. The other place on people where the inside trades places with the outside.

So what's this have to do with Trump and Cru... oh! Oh!

You get it? Huh? Get it?

Uh-huh. I get it. But, does that mean this whole weird conversation has been just another way for you to call Trump and Cruz a-holes?

I prefer to think of the whole Republican race as the a-hole, Betty. One giant, ugly, a-hole, complete with policy warts and proposal hemorrhoids and curly little supporter hairs stuck to one candidate or the other. And at present, Trump and Cruz just happen to be in the center of the giant a-hole, see? The "event horizon," you could call it. And they're both perched there on this event horizon, fighting it out for which one can generate the biggest stink. The only news is, which one of them is stretching out, and which is receding back in?

Gad, Mr. Cope. So this is your idea of taking a break from icky?
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