If it’s Friday, it must be Protest Night. While most people are driving home from work, headed out for Date Night or on their way to da club, a dedicated bunch sets up shop on the corner of a busy L.A. intersection to enlighten the motorists on the state of Iraq, the administration, gas prices, national security, etc. All done so in a peaceful, non-confrontational way. (Until now – that’s where I come in). Just a handful of concerned citizens out sharing their opinions with anyone who drives by, by means of holding handmade posters and banners. The motorists respond by either honking in approval or flipping them off and calling them dirty hippies.
The first time or two by, I honked in support. “I can change the world by pressing on my steering wheel!”…I like to think to myself. Making an impact is FUN! The next time few times I drive by on a Friday and see the same ol’ tired signs, I start to think “ok this is getting old and I need to do something about it.”
Cut to: Interior of art supplies store
I ride to the store and buy some large cardboard signs, some paint and brushes. A variety of messages run through my head and I settle on two. The following Friday I’m ready. I ride to The Corner with my signs, as I’m expecting my nephew to come aid me in my mission. One for him, one for me. I arrive at 5pm as I’m not really sure what time they begin and find myself alone with the street corner all to myself. It’s dark and traffic is heavy. I position myself on the curb and proudly raise my sign.
The response is quick and varied. People are laughing and honking, some are embarrassed and won’t make eye contact, some are so engrossed in their cell phone convo that they don’t even notice. Single women smile and honk, construction workers honk with enthusiasm from their pick-ups. *Somebody’s* horny!
This goes on for an hour, my nephew arriving later to hold up his sign that proclaims “I heart nachos” with a big red heart. Then I notice at 6:00 that the regulars are starting to trickle in. One guy comes up and asks me in a bitchy tone “What does your sign even mean?”. I respond that I’m protesting sexual oppression. He’s not entertained. He follows up with “You don’t have anything else to do on a Friday night?” My answer: “No”. Another concerned protester wants to know “who I’m with” and “where I’m from”. He gets smart-ass answers in return.
My 6th sense now tells me that there’s a hubbub about my presence. Just then a short, angry man comes up from behind me and gets in my face. “Fuck you very much – go find another corner” he suggests, trembling. “Excuse me?” I ask, unsure of what I just heard. He repeats “Fuck you very much – go find another corner.” I now have a small mob glaring at me, the most sorry looking lot of people I’ve ever seen. We exchange pleasantries and I stay put. Now some unknown civilian steps in between us and starts reading Shorty the Riot Act on my behalf, telling him I can do whatever the fuck I please. Me and my nephew step back and watch the circus unfold. It’s beautiful. I offer that they should try and do what their signs say and handle this peacefully, which turns out to be like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
The kid and I decide to bail, we’ve had enough. As we pack up and walk away, Shorty catches up to us and apologizes. “I lost it – I’m sorry”. Apology accepted, we head off into our respective Friday nights, myself being content that things went just a little differently for people tonight. And that maybe those horns honking manifested into some action for a lucky few. 😛