If it’s my third march and rally in less than a week, I must be in San Francisco. Let’s see, Monday was the MLK celebration; Thursday was the anti-inaugural (my toes have barely defrosted since then); and yesterday was the Pro-Choice v. Pro-Life (“Pro Life! Your name’s a lie! You don’t care if women die!”) face off. My mother and I weren’t about to miss this one. (We have a combined 74 years of protesting experience, both of us starting in earnest in 1968–a critical protest year–when I was seven years old.)
Yesterday, Mom and I were, as usual, running late as we dashed from my lovely Tenderloin apartment toward the foot of Powell Street to meet up with our sisters in arms for the 11:00 a.m. march. “There’s no one there!” I shouted to Mom as I scanned the view down Powell Street, knocking Bush-voting tourists out of my path. “How awful,” I thought, “that the pro-lifers are assembling here and no one is bothering to show up and oppose them.”
I couldn’t have been more wrong (and, in this instance, I’m thrilled to say so).
Mom and I reached Market Street, turned left and–God Bless America!–there were thousands of like-minded gals, guys and babes, toting signs, blowing whistles, banging drums, flying their ubiquitious green “Pro-Choice” balloons high in the air. (I appreciated that choice of green balloons, myself, that fertile, verdant, full of life color.)
We marched enthusiastically, chanting all the way almost to the Ferry Building, where we were routed left into the Embarcadero and instructed to line up on the sidewalks to flank the oncoming pro-life (could I please just call them what they are, anti-women, anti-children?) contingent.
There were thousands and thousands of us pro-choicers and I had hoped that the scary people wouldn’t be able to summon more than a couple hundred. But, alas, due to the modern technologies of bussing in from Idaho and flying in from Pennsylvania, their numbers were more impressive than I had imagined.
We, on the side of right, were a motley crew, with all sorts of costumes and hand-lettered signs (my fave was double-sided: “Barbara Bush Should Have Had An Abortion” and “George W., One Abortion Too Few”), the obligatory S.F. pink and blue hair, lots of piercings. The anti-women folks, however, looked like they’d all just stopped in at Wal-Mart on the way over, to pick up their standard issue t-shirt and sign. They were frighteningly homogeneous in their look.
“Come on, now,” said my mother as I growled, “if they weren’t over there and you were over here, you wouldn’t know the difference between you and them.”
“If they opened up their mouths, I would,” I insisted. I am not aware of having a single anti-choice friend in the world and I like it this way.
We stood there, we Planned Parenthood supporters, we beleaguered John Kerry voters, while The Night Of The Living Dead People trooped by us. Many fingered rosaries, giving us sorrowful looks (“Keep Your Rosaries! Get Out Of My Ovaries!”). Many were frocked clerics, wearing their cassocks or collars or whatever that stuff is called. A middle-aged woman behind me shrieked, each time she saw one, “Help! A child molester! Stop him!”
The anti-women people forked off Beach Street, hopefully to get on the busses that would remove them from our fair city (“This City Has A Voice! San Francisco Is For Choice!”), while our contingent continued tromping to Aquatic Park, where my mother and I (I confess) decided our suffering had to end. Our throats were sore from screaming (I mean, chanting) and we were experiencing serious lunch deprivation. I think the march was continuing on to the Marina Green, maybe even 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Mom and I split off up Polk Street to go to Thai Spice. (I highly recommend the purple eggplant there. Delicious!)
This morning, when my friend Nina called, I could barely croak. My throat definitely needs a rest. No protesting–at least not the audible kind–for me this week. This afternoon, Nina and I are going out to S.F. State where, for $5 each, we can sit in a darkened theatre all day and watch the S.F. Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions.
If you go, you’ll see me there. I’ll be the one not talking, not even between acts.