Working in his carpenter shop in Florence, Italy, Geppetto, the marionette-maker, could not have imagined that Pinocchio would become President of the United States of America. Neither could Carlo Collodi whose The Adventures of Pinocchio (1881) painted a more complex, less likable Pinocchio than the Walt Disney film version (1940) that popularized the story in America.
My generation grew up on Pinocchio. How could we not? He was eternally boyish. He was charming. When we told a fib to our parents, we empathized whenever poor little Pinocchio’s nose told on him. Pinocchio was a lovable liar in whom we saw our own flawed but lovable selves without the less attractive dimensions of Collodi’s original Pinocchio who, on the day he is born, cruelly snatches the wig from his marionette maker’s head. From his very first day, Pinocchio has a mind of his own far beyond and quite different from Geppetto’s imagination.
Neither Carloddi nor Geppetto could have imagined that on January 20, 2017 Pinocchio would raise his right hand to take the oath of office as President of the United States. If Geppetto were still able to pull the marionette’s strings, it would not happen. Geppetto would remember his stolen wig. And, if perchance, Geppetto were on the dais when the humanized Pinocchio raises his right hand, he might stretch out his own hand to check whether Pinocchio is wearing his wig.
Pinocchio has a way with words. He calls those who question his integrity ‘liars’ and ‘criminals’ He rallies people with his limited vocabulary. He gropes women and brags about it — it’s not every wooden marionette who gets to do what Geppetto would find deplorable. When he makes promises he cannot keep, his nose grows, but not everyone can see it. It grows slowly, inch-by-inch so that the original image blinds people to its peculiar length.
But there’s another dimension to Pinocchio’s personality that is largely unknown to the general public. He loves to play Pinochle, the game for four that is includes a trump suit, with his family. It’s harder to lie to three family members than it is on stage, and it may be that Pinochle may yet shrink the length of Pinocchio’s nose. Ivanka and Melania didn’t appear in Collldi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio or the Disney version of the story, but their parts in the ongoing story may save us yet.
Those who cringe at the thought of Pinocchio with his groping hands on a nuclear arsenal can always hope Pinocchio’s third wife and favorite daughter will transform the evening Pinochle game as a way to serve the people. In Pinochle the trump suit get spread among the players; no one can dominate. If we’re lucky, Ivanka and Melania will gentle the meanness Pinocchio exhibited when he snatched Geppetto’s wig the day he was ‘born’, keep his nose short, and do for Pinocchio’s what Eva Braun was never able to do: keep his right arm from rising to a salute.