Among the modifications Ms. Walters said to expect: “There will be no more yellow.” — With Trump on Vacation, a Sprucing Up for the West Wing, New York Times, Julie Hirschfield Davis, August 4, 2017
It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw – not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things. — “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1892
It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John Kelly and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer. But this summer, he says, is different. I must have a bit of quiet. And the golf here really is quite lovely. Though John insists it is not a vacation. Meetings and calls, he says, will help me progress a little. And I am working ever so hard! I tremble to think of it. Oh!
It was long planned, and yet one does feel so whisked away. I couldn’t help but secret along in the butt pocket of my khaki pants several swatches of the detested White House wallpaper. I have the swatches here with me now, in Bedminster. Because what were the previous residents thinking, with this second rate wallpaper for losers? John insists our lease for the dump will be up in three years, and that he cannot see Mike being ready for me to leave any earlier. To humor me, I think, he says that when we return to the White House there will be no more yellow.
One does get a bit tired, after a time, of the golf. One starts to think about taking up Cousin Vlady on his invitation to go visit him in Siberia and to wrestle, like men. But John has really had to be quite firm with me and say we cannot go on any more trips this summer. He says that when we fly, he has to prepare those little treat bags and apology notes and responses to grand jury document requests. But it’s MY airplane, I say. It seems ever so UNFAIR that he hands treat bags to Melania and Steve and Ivanka but that he never packs one for me. I kick his seat and scream a little. He leans down to tuck the stray winglet of rancid yellow hair back behind my ear. As he does this, he hisses that he will limit my screen time if I don’t get a better handle on myself THIS INSTANT. I’m sure he knows best. But I WAS invited to Siberia and it would have been fine to go by myself.
I do so much here at Bedminster. Meetings. Calls. Lurching out of the bushes. Riding in my golf cart. Sometimes, when I go out riding in my cart, I whip my hair around and for an instant catch a whiff of the dumpy smell of that terrible yellow oval office wallpaper. The yellow has permeated everything. I know Melania and John exchange glances when I bring it up, and have tried hiding my Twitter phone in the bushes outside the brand new platform tennis enclosure, but you see I am too smart for them. I have played very, very nice with Brian Anderson, our new racquets sports professional, and he showed me just where they hid it. He has behaved very well towards me, so I let him snip off a little piece of my khakis to keep.
I have been studying the stripes of the wallpaper. At night in any kind of light, in refrigerator light, in CNN light, they become bars! Behind the bars I can see the shimmer of something else. A flash of coiffure. A whiff of damp Patagonia fleece flecked with sofrita and guacamole. It is a woman. And I must lock her up.
John fears I am not, after all, progressing. The renovations are finished, he says, and we must return to the house in town. But I have not locked her up yet! She’s here, just behind the yellow bars of that infernal wallpaper. She goes round and round. John goes out during the day and I find my golf cart and feel how it rubs so naturally against the perimeter of the bushes and the platform tennis court and the Mizner-Barnes wedding tent. I drive around and around looking for the one I can lock up until I find him and he laughs again and accelerates the golf cart just a little more so that John cannot run fast enough to catch him.