Jared Kushner Calls His Mom

(And Russia).

Image: Michael Coté

It’s six months ago. Donald Trump’s unexpected victory is still stunning everyone, including JARED and IVANKA, who now must move to Washington, D.C. to work in the administration. IVANKA is packing up and speaking sternly to her closest friends (her staff). JARED is making one thousand phone calls to his mother, the only way he knows to cope with anxiety.

JARED [calling his mother for the thirtieth time]: Mom, where is that pot I used to make ramen noodles in. Ivanka said that Washington is a backwater and they won’t have my favorite restaurants.

JARED’S MOM [matter of factly]: Jared, we gave all the things in your dorm room away, to Stefa’s son when he was attending SUNY Purchase.

JARED [pissed but mostly for show]: Mom, that was my stuff. Not the fucking cleaning lady’s.

JARED’S MOM: Jared, Stefa helped raise you when I was distant, and sitting on corporate boards. Don’t talk that way.

JARED [wondering whether he learned anything at college]: What about my Microeconomics textbook? Like just the intro one. It had a purple cover I think.

JARED’S MOM: We sold all those books back to Amazon

IVANKA [interrupting, powerfully]: Jeff Bezos is now a foe. He owns fake media.

JARED [to IVANKA]: How did you —

JARED’S MOM: Is that Ivanka? Why don’t you ask her where your things are?

JARED [appeasing IVANKA]: Mom, Jeff Bezos hates us. How many times do I have to tell you that?

JARED’S MOM: Well I’m not getting rid of my Alexa. There is just no way. Goodbye.

JARED and IVANKA continue packing. IVANKA tells movers to leave everything where it is, except for the fainting couch, which they should cover in bubble wrap this evening, and transport to the new home so it’s there when the family arrives next week. JARED calls his mother a lot more.

JARED [calling his mother for the hundred and sixth time]: People test our food before we get to eat it.

JARED’S MOM [sweetly]: Jared, you’ll never guess who I saw at Whole Foods. I thought he was working with you now?

JARED [pouring himself a bowl of Cheerios and then not eating it]: Who, Mom?

JARED’S MOM: He was very friendly.

JARED [dumping his cereal into the trash]: Who, Mom?

JARED’S MOM: And I said, I shouldn’t be speaking to you, ever again, but I had to know. Why was he riding a motorized scooter. Have you ever tried parking at Whole Foods before, he said. They make the spots smaller than other parking lots. It’s true. They do. I asked your father. The spots marked handicapped are much roomier though, he said. And he pointed to his black Suburban with the —

JARED: Who are you talking about mom?

JARED’S MOM: I have to go. Stefa is here for lunch. She brought her chicken salad.

IVANKA [handing JARED a list of Russian people.]: Call this man. He — [IVANKA turns on the hair dryer she is holding.] — Euros and then dollars. Our lawyer can credibly say that you made a thousand calls. [IVANKA glares at JARED.] Because you have made a thousand calls.

JARED [nervously]: What will I say to them?

IVANKA [synergistically]: That’s the beauty of a back channel. You say whatever you’d like as long as it furthers our interests.

JARED imagines a water slide into Russia originating in Alaska, maybe. Wouldn’t that be cold, he wonders, as he calls his mother for the four hundred and seventy-third time.

JARED [filling out paperwork]: What’s the mnemonic of my allergies again? The Secret Service is having us fill out entrance interviews.

JARED’S MOM: SIPPY CUP, but cup with two Ps. Soy, insect repellent, pistachios, peanuts, and Yoohoo or other artificially flavored drink. Cashews, unpasteurized dairy, perfumed laundry detergent, and pork.

JARED [testing his boundaries]: I’m not allergic to pork.

JARED’S MOM: How would you know?

IVANKA hands JARED another number to call.

JARED: I’ll call you back in a second, Mom. [JARED dials RUSSIA.] Hi, Mr. Kislyak. It’s Jared again. So about Rosneft —

IVANKA directs her staff to plug in the Vitamix and make juice for everyone present. The whirring masks JARED’S probably treasonous communications. IVANKA exits to cancel the family ski trip they had scheduled during Hillary’s inauguration. JARED calls his mother for the nine hundred ninety-seventh time.

JARED [screaming]: Josh doesn’t have to move.

JARED’S MOM: Yes, well, Josh isn’t married yet.

JARED [screaming]: You said he was definitely going to lose! You said I was going to launch a television network!

JARED’S MOM: Your father always said that was a dumb idea.

JARED [whispering]: Ivanka says you bring up dad to derail me.

JARED’S MOM: Oh Jared. Do you remember our first house? The one with the kitchen on the same floor as the bedrooms. And you’d wear the colander on your head and say you were the Tin Man and Joshie would wear one of my furs and be the Cowardly Lion.

JARED [calming down]: And the cleaning lady was the Scarecrow.

JARED’S MOM: Stefa, Jared. We were just saying, Stefa and I, when she was over for lunch, how you’re the Cowardly Lion, now.

JARED [lying]: That’s not true.

JARED’S MOM: If only you were brave.

STEVE BANNON barges into the room, pushing a grocery cart full of Andre champagne. He lines up four of the bottles on IVANKA’s fainting couch and then opens them with the samurai sword he bought from Amazon to congratulate himself for helping to accomplish the unthinkable. He is also on the phone, but not with Russian spies.

STEVE BANNON [yelling into his phone]: He goes, we have to move there? And I go, real nice. Real nice. That fucker thinks globalization rendered geography moot. [STEVE BANNON glares at JARED KUSHNER.] Oh wait. He is right here.

JARED slinks to the bathroom and, for the nine hundred and ninety-eighth time, calls his mother, who he impulsively disconnected.

JARED’S MOM [picking up where she left off]: David Brooks was at your father’s minyan this morning. He said Hillary lost because low-wage workers don’t find meaning in their mundane job responsibilities anymore. If he were the Democrats, he said, he would send a copy of The Power of Now to every displaced factory worker in the Rust Belt. And he’d rename the party the ‘Presenticrats.’ Such an intelligent man. Presence is so important, Jared.

JARED [distractedly]: Mom, where is my windbreaker? You know, the one that I wear when I take the helicopter. Josh calls it “the cool one.”

JARED’S MOM: William Henry Harrison died because he didn’t wear an overcoat to his inauguration.

JARED [composing himself]: Mom, this is for summer or spring. Ivanka says we will be down there year-round for the first two years at least.

JARED’S MOM: Jared, how would I know where that stuff is? You haven’t lived with me for over ten years. Not that I wouldn’t love to have you back.

IVANKA slides three more telephone numbers under the bathroom door as she and STEVE BANNON clink glasses. JARED looks at himself in the mirror and imagines wearing his cool windbreaker inside the back channel.