Suiting up for my very first protest march recently, I took care that the pink “pussy hat” a friend had ordered for me from Etsy was tilted with just the right mix of solemn jauntiness. Which is hard to pull off, by the way. The day before, I had bought poster board edged in glitter ribbon, then found delightful glitter neon stick-on letters for a message that was off color but commanding. I hope.
Bright pink hat. Glitter poster board. Glitter stick-on letters. I felt like Protest Barbie.
Boarding the bus in the pre-dawn cold for the two-hour drive to the state capital, I realized that as youthful as my hat and mildly profane poster were, I was still pulling bags of turkey, almonds and cheese cubes out of my big Grandma purse at an alarming rate. Low blood sugar is a terrible thing. I found my mind drifting to wondering if my left knee would act up during the march and if the bus bathroom would work when my aging bladder kicked in (it did; twice).
At the rally, I quickly lost sight of my bus friends and melted into the crowd of more than 80,000. Somehow, I ended up walking with the vegans. They were smiling and chanting and held horrifying posters of slaughtered animals high in the air. Vegans are shockingly friendly for a group that lives essentially off seitan and good will. I have no idea how they can be so cheerful without cheeseburgers. They’re just better people. And I hope none of them noticed when I put my sign down and ducked out to buy a hot dog out of desperation. Did I mention the low blood sugar?
Marching along in my pink hat, full of meat byproducts and no small amount of guilt, I met the Princess and three of her besties at a prearranged spot and we all marched together. I had texted her a few minutes before with a location, adding “I’m wearing a pink hat” forgetting for a moment that that narrowed it down to about 48,000 people present. Not helpful.
Hours before, I had been engaged in a futile Facebook battle with someone of the opposite political persuasion when she abruptly stopped and sanctimoniously announced “Enough of this! I’m going to spend the day with my family!” Yeah. Me, too.
The speeches were uplifting, motivating, thrilling. Midway, my knee began to throb and now I know that it is a Republican. It will be replaced.
The next day, my former governor, who famously fretted that transgendered folk would endure numerous surgeries so they could one day spy on women in closed bathroom stalls, speculated on “Meet the Press” that our huge rally was composed of “paid protesters.” Nope. Just concerned citizens of all ages and races. Nobody paid me. Before this march, you couldn’t pay me to get up at 5 a.m. for any reason unless I was in labor. Some things are just worth it.