It was 1985 or so.
As I wrote about in my latest book (cough), sometimes the peace group I belonged to met in the living room of our cheap, uninsulated apartment. We stored the old hand-crank Gestetner in our back room, the coldest one, uninhabitable even by brave noble young anarchists like ourselves. Hell, even the most working class among us (me) had grownup with reliable heat, paid for by mom and dad.
So we lived mostly in the front room, huddled over big mugs of tea and eating box after box of Kraft Dinner.
One night when I was eating, Ronald Reagan was too.
The news was on and he was at some state dinner, up on the dais, listening to a guy at the microphone. He held a forkful of food to his mouth, put it in and started chewing.
That’s the exact moment I stopped hating Ronald Reagan.
You see: everyone knew that Ronald Reagan (or “Raygun”) was going to blow up the world! I owned punk rock albums with his face, disfigured, on the cover. I’d been chanting “Ronald Reagan/he’s no good/send him back to Hollywood” pretty much every weekend for, what, five years at that point? People made dart boards with his face on it, burned him in effigy, put on Ronald Reagan Halloween masks and did goofy street theater at our demos.
My then-boyfriend was sitting right beside me, muttering something, smoking my cigarettes again. Could he tell?
I just stared straight ahead, trying to keep my bearings as the bizarre sensation of Not Hating Ronald Reagan rushed through me like a shot of whatever that was the dentist gave me once.
Great. What was I going to do now??
That night, I saw Ronald Reagan — for the first time ever, I’m ashamed to say — as a human being, just like me, who ate and breathed and loved people and had people who loved him.
It’s too late to say I’m sorry, but not to say that he was right about a lot of things and I was wrong.