The phone rang at 3 a.m. and Donald Trump was restless. He did not like what people were saying about him, and he’d somehow gotten locked out of his Twitter account, so he was calling me for ideas about how to make people love him even more than they already do.
“I hear you can make yourself real small and get inside people’s heads,” he said in that familiar Queens-ian drawl.
“Yes, I can,” I replied.
“I want you to do that for me,” he said. “You know, get inside my head and tell people about the real me.”
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” I said.
“Sure it is,” he insisted. “People who know me, love me. They can’t help it. I’m the most loveable person in the world. The smartest, too. My brain is a monument to genius and love. We could turn it into a national park, charge admission, and make billions.”
“Okay,” I sighed. “But a complete brain tour will cost you $50,000.”
“Make it $100,000,” he said. “I don’t want people to think I did this on the cheap.”
“Make it $200,000 then,” I said, “so I can still have some dignity left when I’m done.”
“It’s a deal,” he said.
Five minutes later, there was a knock on my door and Donald Trump was standing there, in blue silk pajamas, holding a martini and a large bag of cash.
“Let’s do this,” he said.
I invited him in and told him to sit on the couch. “I like to enter through the right ear canal,” I explained, and handed him a q-tip. “If you could get in there and clean things out a little with this before we get started, I’d appreciate it.”
The Donald rolled his eyes, but did as he was told. He inserted the q-tip into his right ear and wiggled it around, then jabbed it in and out a few times to impress me with his thoroughness. He handed the q-tip back to me; the tip was covered with a thick, orange-ish goo.
“That’s real gold,” he said. “I’d keep that and sell it on eBay if I were you.”
I thanked him, and explained the details of the procedure: Using my extraordinary willpower, I would shrink myself to the size of a poppy seed and enter his brain through his right ear canal. He might feel a little tickling sensation at first, I explained, but once I was inside his head he wouldn’t feel anything at all. I like to spend at least two or three hours inside, I told him, and make a point of exploring all five major regions of the brain in order to get the full measure of a person. I usually spend more time in the frontal cortex, because that’s where human reason resides, as well as the regions for planning, problem-solving, and speech—but with him, I surmised, that may not be necessary.
“Great, let’s get started,” he said while he peeled back the carefully coiffed curtain of hair that hid his right ear. I closed my eyes, concentrated, shrunk myself, then hopped on his shoulder and up to the ledge of flesh at the opening of Donald Trump’s tremendous ear. He then closed the flap of hair on the side of his head and locked it in place. A comforting flaxen glow shown through the strands, which looked like bits of luminescent straw or long golden noodles lit from within.
As I stood there, preparing myself for the descent down his ear canal and into his brain, I felt my own self-esteem swell. I am the only person in the world Donald Trump trusts to give the American people a guided tour of his remarkable brain, I thought to myself—I must be pretty darn special. Then another, less charitable thought: People will probably think I’m making this up, that I didn’t actually crawl inside Donald Trump’s head and walk around. But as soon as that thought entered my mind, a warm breeze ruffled my own hair and a voice from deep inside The Donald’s ear canal boomed: “It doesn’t matter. People are stupid. They’ll believe anything you tell them.”
An overwhelming sense of certainty suddenly washed over me, rinsing my mind of doubt and fear. I flicked on my flashlight, then took a deep breath and began the long, dark descent into Donald Trump’s temporal lobe, where a normal person’s hearing and listening are processed. At the entrance to The Donald’s t-lobe, there was a door marked “Keep Closed.” The door was stuck, as if it hadn’t been opened in years. I jiggled the knob and pushed hard, but the door wouldn’t budge. I threw my shoulder into it a couple of times, and it finally gave way on the third heave. As soon as I made it through the door, it slammed shut behind me and I was suddenly enveloped in a thick, eerie silence.
In most people, the temporal lobe is where meaning is extracted from the sounds and noise and general cacophony of the world around us. And, having toured many a celebrity’s brain, I can tell you that it’s usually a madhouse in there, especially if the subject happens to live in New York: honking, screaming, shouting, construction, wind, talking, whining, crying—it all reverberates around and echoes around so loudly that I usually have to wear earplugs myself, especially if the person knows Beyoncé. But there was no noise whatsoever in Donald Trump’s temporal lobe; even his breathing and heartbeat were filtered out somehow, stranding me in a cone of perfect silence.
It was really quite peaceful, until it got creepy. There should be noise in here, I kept reminding myself—but there isn’t. How can that be? Maybe he’s deaf in his right ear, I thought. That would explain it. But then I shone my flashlight around and realized that the beam of the flashlight seemed to disappear, as if I were pointing it out into space. I clapped my hands together, but they didn’t make any noise. I started reciting the Declaration of Independence from memory, but could not hear myself speak. No words came out of my mouth, even though I knew perfectly well that I was talking. I then realized what was happening: I was standing in the middle of a tiny black hole, one that sucked up all outside sound and neutralized it, rendering it irrelevant and meaningless. The only other place I have encountered this phenomenon was inside Kanye West’s head, and the mere thought of it made me shudder.
Onward, I thought, it’s not safe in here.
Not knowing which direction to go, I walked downhill in the hope that I’d eventually reach Trump’s cerebellum, where physical coordination is managed and, I guessed, that fabulous golf swing of his would reside. After what seemed like miles, I reached a building that looked like the entrance to a country club. I informed the doorman that I was there to admire Donald Trump’s golf swing, which can allegedly launch a golf ball 280 yards, only a fraction less than Tiger Woods when his back is healthy.
I strolled out to the first tee, which looked out over a lush carpet of green, gorgeous grass. The fairway extended straight ahead and slightly downhill, and was bordered on either side by a forest of tall pines and majestic oaks. I watched as, in The Donald’s mind, he teed up a ball, lined up his shot, addressed the ball, waggled his club, and swung. The ball sliced off into the trees to the right. “Mulligan,” he said, and teed up another ball. This one hooked into the woods to the left. “I’m going to hit another one,” he said. This time the ball went more-or-less straight, and, as gravity began to pull his ball back to earth, The Donald held his finish and admired his handiwork.
Trump seemed proud of his drive, but my range meter indicated that his ball had only traveled 210 yards; 220 at the most. I was about to inform him of this unfortunate fact when he whistled and exclaimed, “A hole in one! How about that?”
“That’s impossible,” I said. “This is a 520-yard par five.”
“Well it just happened,” he said. “I saw it with my own eyes.”
“Your drive only went 210 yards,” I said. “By my calculations, you should have at least another 300 yards to the hole.”
He sneered at me like I was an idiot. “First, that was a 300-yard drive at least. Second, it hasn’t rained in a while, so these fairways have a lot of roll.”
“I hit it pretty hard,” he said.
“Not that hard,” I protested.
“You don’t believe me, let’s walk up to the green. I guarantee you’re going to find a Trump Pro-V1 in the cup.”
To humor him, we walked down the fairway and up to the green. “Go ahead,” he said. “Look in the hole.”
I peered down into the cup, but there was no ball, and I told him so. He squeezed his hand into a fist and cussed. “It’s those damn Mexicans,” he spat. “They steal everything.”
“I don’t see any Mexicans,” I said.
“Believe me, they’re everywhere. The proof is right here,” he said, pointing at the hole. “There should be a golf ball there, and there isn’t.”
“Maybe you didn’t hit a hole in one,” I ventured.
“And maybe you’re a candy-assed piffle-tosser who lives in his mommie’s basement,” Trump hissed. “Let’s move on. The next hole is a Par 3. I hit a hole-in-one there pretty much every time.”
I wished him luck, but explained that I had to keep moving. I searched the rest of his cerebellum in vain for any other physical skills The Donald might have, but found none. Already behind schedule, I decided to high-tail it to his occipital lobe and check out his vision. Donald Trump doesn’t wear glasses, or even contacts as far as I knew, so I expected that his vision would be pretty good. Many people who don’t read books have excellent eyesight well into their seventies, due to a lifetime of relatively mild eyestrain. However, nothing in my experience prepared me for what I witnessed at the end of Trump’s occipital pathway.
The parts of his brain I’d visited thus far were either dark or naturally lit, but I could see from a good distance away that The Donald’s occipital lobe was lit with a bright, white light so intense that it appeared to be leaking into other regions of his brain. The closer I got, the brighter this part of his brain became. I didn’t bring sunglasses, so I wasn’t even sure I could enter the lobe itself, because it felt as if some sort of self-generating power source was in there, burning so hot and white that standing too close to it might, I feared, be dangerous.
Once inside, however, there turned out to be much more light than heat. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust, but when they did, I was astonished by what I saw. The glare was coming from thousands of round, frosted light bulbs, the kind actors use in their dressing rooms. Likewise, his entire occipital lobe was lined with mirrors, all arranged in a giant semi-circle and aimed at a single spot in the middle. Floating in mid-air at that the very center was a giant, disembodied, holographic version of Donald Trump’s head. The familiar golden comb-over, the chemically darkened skin, the squinty eyes and misshapen lips—it was all there, in three dimensions, but it was so transparent that you could see right through it. The head hovered and slowly turned, peering at itself in each mirror as it revolved. Reflected in all those mirrors, there seemed to be hundreds of heads, then hundreds more beyond that, stretching into infinity.
As I watched, the head at the center smiled at its reflection and winked at itself a few times. Then it did something as extraordinary as it was frightening: It puckered its lips in a circle, making its mouth look like a giant anus, and tried to kiss itself! The closer the head’s lips got to the mirror in front of it, the larger the lips looked in all the other mirrors. As his giant butthole lips got closer, and the reflections got larger, it felt as if I was either going to be sucked up into his mouth like a spaghetti noodle, or shot out the other end like whatever he had to eat that day.
Thankfully, the terror retreated as quickly as it came. The head kissed itself, winked, and nodded a few times to indicate that it approved of itself, then returned to the middle and continued rotating. When the back of its head was facing me, I took the opportunity to escape Trump’s occipital lobe and head over to his parietal lobe, where things like touch, taste, and body awareness are stored.
A lot of shame is what you find in most people’s parietal lobes, especially celebrities who are hyper-critical of their own looks. While everyone else is admiring them, they see only flaws and blemishes. The Donald did not have that problem. In many respects, his parietal lobe looked like the room of a hyper-sexual teenager. Posters of every Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and Miss Universe contestant for the past twenty years hung on the walls, along with Playboy playmates, Penthouse models, and several images from a much raunchier publication featuring unmentionable intimacies with animals, vegetables, and what one of the headlines termed “pleasures of the self.”
Interspersed among these posters was a curious collection of photographs that appeared to feature Donald Trump’s head photo-shopped onto Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body. As for the sense of touch, it was represented by a wall covered with various shapes and blobs that I couldn’t make out at first. When I stepped closer, however, I realized that the blobs and bubbles on the wall were all female breasts and buttocks in various sizes and shapes, most of them firm and toned, save for an occasional slab of saggy flesh hidden with a paper bag. Taste is another feature of the parietal lobe. I searched everywhere for it, but ultimately had to conclude that Donald Trump doesn’t have any.
The only region left on Trump’s brain tour was the frontal lobe, where most of a human being’s complex thought processes take place: concentration, problem-solving, planning, reason, etc. Speech is also a function of the frontal lobe, and because so much goes on here, the typical frontal lobe is a jungle-like tangle of synapses and neurotransmitters all feverishly firing messages back and forth in a desperate attempt to coordinate a person’s thoughts and actions.
Traversing the frontal lobe can be difficult because it is so densely packed with neurons, which is why I usually tackle it last.
When I entered The Donald’s frontal lobe, however, I thought for a moment I had taken a wrong turn and had landed in some other, less vital part of his brain—one of the boring sections that governs unconscious things like heart rate and breathing. Where other people have dense clusters of synapses, The Donald had airy wisps of brain tissue that looked like spider webs—flimsy, gossamer threads of synaptic silk that offered no more resistance to the sweep of my hand than a cloud of steam. Parts of the frontal lobe that usually spark and flicker like fireworks were, in The Donald’s brain, strangely dark. And parts that are typically packed with an accumulated lifetime of information and experience appeared to stop somewhere around the age of seven.
The planning and problem-solving parts of the frontal lobe are where I usually find out a lot about the person whose brain I am exploring. This area of The Donald’s brain was a complete mess, however—piles of old National Enquirers stacked everywhere, paperwork from various lawsuits strewn all over the place, piles of discarded golf clubs, stacks of old casino chips, a bucket of tiny American flags; it looked like my neighbor’s garage. I couldn’t make any sense of it, because there didn’t seem to be any order to the chaos. That’s not entirely unusual, though. A lot of artist’s brains look like that; the meaning and order come when they try to express themselves. I thought this might be true for The Donald too, so I hunted through the detritus in search of the part of his brain that governs speech. It’s usually located very close to the part of the lobe that executes planning and concentration, but try as I might, I couldn’t find it. It took a while, but I finally found his speech center way on the other side of his frontal lobe, near the smell section, entirely disconnected from almost all of his brain’s cognitive functions!
This is extraordinary, because it means Donald Trump may actually think with his nose. If this is the case, and all of his cognitive functions are packed into his nasal cavity, it’s possible that when Donald Trump smells something funny—the aroma of burnt toast, say, or the scent of Barack Obama’s birth certificate—he may overreact so completely that he convinces himself it’s something much more serious, like the apocalypse. And if his nose and mouth are so closely connected, that would explain why his lips move so strangely when he speaks, and why the words themselves don’t make much sense.
I didn’t notice the other thing in this area of his brain until I heard a rustle and turned around to see what was making the noise. It was hard to see, but hidden in a dark corner, in a large metal cage, was a huge, greenish lizard of some sort. The beast was at least three feet long, with a forked tongue that flitted in and out of its mouth as if it were hunting for its next meal. This is amazing, I thought. In most people, the term “lizard brain” is a euphemism, a shorthand reference to a person’s primal evolutionary defenses, particularly the “fight or flight” mechanism that kicks in when a creature senses it’s in mortal danger. But in Donald Trump’s case, his lizard brain is apparently a literal lizard—and a big, nasty-looking one at that.
Cautiously, I stepped closer to the lizard to get a better look. As I approached, it snapped its head forward and ate something in a convulsive gulp. I bent down to see what sort of food it was eating, and was horrified to see that it was being fed a strange type of mealworm with the body of a bug and the head of—Hillary Clinton!
I’d seen enough. As I exited Donald Trump’s brain and returned to my normal size, I felt disoriented and dizzy, but I also found myself feeling sorry for the man. I wondered what it must be like for his body to navigate its way through this world attached to that head—a head so oddly and mysteriously constructed that it bears almost no resemblance to any human mind I have ever seen, before or since. He must be very lonely, I concluded, because trying to make someone else understand what I just saw—much less admire and love it—must be very difficult for him. I felt fortunate that he had let me inside, but it is also my responsibility to report to the world what I saw in there, and that burden lay heavy on me as I gathered myself to share my findings with him and take my cash.
The Donald was in my kitchen, watching his assistant make him a sandwich, when he saw me emerge from his ear.
“Back already?” he said.
“Yes,” I said. “I couldn’t take much more.”
“Pretty amazing in there, huh?” he said.
“You might say that.”
“I envy you, you know,” he said, grabbing the sandwich and taking a bite. “I wish I could walk around inside my own mind. I mean, I’m the most fascinating person in the world, and one of the richest, but the one thing I can’t do is walk around inside my own head the way you just did. You’re one lucky motherfucker.”
“Yes, I guess so.”
He swallowed and took a swig of orange juice. “Better than Disneyland in there, isn’t it?”
“It was a wild ride, yes,” I said.
“I can’t wait to read about me,” he said. “But more important, I can’t wait for other people to read about me. They’re gonna fuckin’ love me. You love me now, right? Of course you do. You can’t help it. Because I’m the most loveable guy in the world.”
The Donald took a final gulp of orange juice. “Gotta go,” he said. “Got a campaign to run.”
He left as quickly as he’d arrived.
After I shut the door behind him, I figured I should count the cash to make sure he didn’t short me. I searched everywhere in my living room and kitchen for the bag of cash, however, but couldn’t find it. Sonofabitch, I thought—he took it with him.
Furious, I took of the q-tip out of my pocket and wondered how much I could get for the thing on eBay. But then I thought better of it. Nobody would believe actual gold came out of Donald Trump’s ear, I thought. People aren’t that stupid. They’d see it for what it was: a cue tip with some earwax on it.
But then I figured what the hell, and posted it on eBay anyway. Five minutes later, a bid for $1,000,000 came in, and I accepted it.
Maybe Trump is right, I thought—in a world where people will believe anything, is it also true that anything is possible? Then I noticed something fishy about the address where I was supposed to send the q-tip: 1 Trump Tower, Suite 1.
Sad, I thought. I would have happily sold it to him for half the price.