I was in Florida with my 11-year old daughter, visiting my parents. Sitting around the pool at my parent’s condo were other grandparents, parents, and grandchildren enjoying family time together. While my daughter splashed in the water, my mother asked if I’d take her to a chamber music concert. I said I’d love to. Good, she said, grandpa would have one-on-one time with his granddaughter, and we weren’t going far away, just to Mar-A-Lago.
That’s when my brain exploded. Mar-A-Lago? Trump’s Mar-A-Lago?!
Yes. My parents are subscribers to the Palm Beach Chamber Music Society. The concerts are held at Mar-A-Lago. Which was never an issue – until now.
It suddenly felt like 1933, and my mother was calmly inviting me to a musical soiree at Reich headquarters. Ok, I know, that reaction is totally over-the-top. But, I’m a Jew who grew up next door to a restricted country club. Those were legal then. I learned about the holocaust from people who had numbers tattooed on their forearms. When Trump campaigned on banning Muslims, I did not doubt who else was on the hate list. Sadly, I was right.
I called my wife for advice. She asked if I was going to be spending any money at Mar-A-Lago. No. The evening had been booked and the tickets purchased long before Trump was elected. If I wasn’t enriching the President, she reasoned, I probably wasn’t doing anything wrong. And depriving my 84-year old mother of an evening of musical pleasure…well, that seemed a little flinty.
So, I went. I borrowed a navy-blue blazer from my dad, and escorted my elegant mother to Mar-A-Lago. The historic mansion is a Spanish-Moorish delight, graciously proportioned and startlingly opulent. The Trump additions are very Russian banquet room: faux Versailles coated with regular layers of gilt filigree. We listened to the Zuckerman Trio – all foreigners and immigrants – bring Schubert and Mendelssohn to life. The 250 people in the room were intent and appreciative. The music was vivid; the situation surreal.
It’s a strange time that can turn an annual family vacation into a test of ethics. My mother and I enjoyed our evening together. I think I did the right thing taking her to Mar-A-Lago, but I haven’t shaken my doubts
With a Perspective, I’m Evan Sagerman.
Evan Sagerman is an architect and children’s book author in San Francisco.