Every time President Trump comes to town, my cat hides under the bed.
He’s not making a political statement – Taco is an unaffiliated feline, roused to protest only when we buy cheap cat food instead of gourmet Fancy Feast – but he hates the noise.
And so do I.
When the Golfer- in-Chief is here, the passenger jets from Palm Beach International Airport that normally depart flying east over Mar-a-Lago are redirected northeastward over my Flamingo Park house in West Palm Beach, sometimes flying so low their shadows shade my roof.
Occasionally, the noise comes and goes quickly, when a few planes make a rapid vertical ascent, looking more like space shuttles than something you’d fly to LaGuardia. Most gain altitude slowly while their accelerating jet engines bathe Flamingo Park in a throaty roar.
During past Trump visits, nine out of 10 flights flew over my neighborhood.
What’s worse, I’m forced to pay for each weekend’s deafening.
The president’s Mar-a-Lago weekends ring up at about $1 million per visit, according to the conservative group Judicial Watch, which has been tracking the price of presidential travel for years. (Other estimates put the cost as high as $3 million per Mar-a-Lago visit.)
It’s not that I begrudge our president an occasional weekend vacay. I want him to be rested when conducting the nation’s business.
But the president has been here seven of the 13 weekends since his inauguration, or about 20 percent of his presidency, according to The Palm Beach Post’s calculations.
He ruins the weekends my husband and I typically spend with doors and windows flung open to the year’s best weather.
Instead, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips have forced us to spend weekends cocooned inside, as if it’s already a torrid July.
Even with the windows closed, I’m awakened by the first rumble of accelerating jet engines — which came at 6:01 a.m. Friday and 6:03 a.m. Saturday.
During times of heaviest air traffic, planes zoom overhead every two to three minutes. I tracked a few takeoffs only a minute apart. There’s a lull in late morning and mid-afternoon, then they taper off — finally — between 9 and 10 o’clock at night.
Trump’s visits have given our weekend conversations the pace of a stretched VHS tape: two minutes of discourse then 30 seconds of barely intelligible audio, then a minute or two of chat until the next muting.
On the bright side, arguments are too much trouble to pursue under such stop-and-go conditions.
Easter weekend was the worst. Trump was here for three days, with no approaching cold front wind shifts to divert takeoffs to the west.
My husband gets so frustrated with the incessant rumbling he sometimes stands in the backyard giving the planes a two-handed, one-finger salute, although it’s really directed at the man enjoying peaceful hours at his Palm Beach palazzo at our expense. Literally.
This isn’t some kind of NIMBY diatribe. Trump’s the one who bought a house directly under the airport’s flight path, not us.
We knew we were buying a house a few miles from PBIA, but we also knew that planes usually land and take off heading due east, into our usual wind pattern.
Our urban neighborhood of 1920s houses is surprisingly quiet.
For years, Trump tried unsuccessfully to persuade Palm Beach County to move the airport farther west because plane noise and fumes were ruining his investment. Thwarted, he filed an airport noise lawsuit for $75 million, then dropped it in exchange for a cheap 75-year lease on the Summit Boulevard property where he built his Trump International Golf Course. He dropped another airport lawsuit after he was elected.
A wag on a Flamingo Park online newsletter asked if the neighborhood could sue over Trump-induced airport noise, hoping for equal success.
Winning office meant Trump got what he’s always wanted: quiet weekends at Mar-a-Lago.
And I got noise and an oily dust that shows up on our cars after each presidential visit.
It may be over soon, at least for this year.
If he follows precedent, Trump will stay up north after the Mar-a-Lago Club closes on Mother’s Day.
But if the president comes back before then, I may join Taco under the bed.