Over and over, people walked past her.
“Would you be interested in hearing about something that hurts… Would you be interested in hearing about something that hurts… Would you be interested in… Would you be interested in hearing about something that hurts 50 percent of women?” she said as one by one, the people ignored her.
She was a well-dressed, middle-aged woman I knew I wouldn’t like. Women don’t pamphlet outside Catholic churches without me knowing they’ll hit some buttons.
I stopped, smiled and knew I was going to be pissed off.
While she was perfectly lovely to talk to, her handwritten and Xeroxed screed turned out to be a bit too confusing to be angering. Called “A Manifesto to Chicago Journalists Carol Marin and Mary Mitchell,” it was a four-page rant against the two Sun-Times columnists for… something.
“Let it be known and clearly understood by the two of you to the point of becoming wisdom itself, that a true remnant of women of Faith due exist in this City (consisting of all feminine classes, hues and shapes) who STILL radically embrace the Judeo Christian Myth that Jesus Christ is Lord and truly BORN OF A WOMAN!” she wrote, misspellings and weird capitalization copied down directly from her document.
“For these reasons, we will NOT tolerate your apostacy, idolatry and penchant for false religion which spurs on the cult of reginum and verbal outbursts against the title of Mary, Gate of Heaven,” her document continued. “In this city, both you and the colored-rosary-wearing devotees wear this talisman in order to harm for the sake of a false protection.”
Four pages of that and the like. I don’t know why she wrote this. I don’t know why she distributed this. And in the biggest failure for a screed against two individuals, I don’t know what they did to tick her off, aside from “cruel words” and “base actions” that are “vestiges of womanhood errant” in Carol Marin’s case.
Mary Mitchell, “Sister of the Yam,” should “know that your nakedness in the Spirit World to honor that which is reginum reveals a rude awakening of this remnant of women of color that we must heed and dialogue with the voice of another Sister.”
She smiled as she handed me her document. She told me to read it and something about fighting for women. I still don’t know if it was about abortion, about rape or if she was just calling two reporters sluts.
Whatever she was writing about and whyever she was doing this made sense to her. It followed a path. A leads to B leads to C leads to standing in a crowd of office workers going home for the day to tell them these two newspaper columnists are sinners as outlined in four pages of handwritten Xerox. There was no confusion to her, no wondering why.
In this crowd of the 5 end of 9-to-5ers, she was doing the Lord’s work. She was saving her soul, maybe mine. She was looking out for womankind, for all of humanity.
This, for her, was not just a spiritual gesture. It was a social one. This was her volunteering, as basic activism to her as throwing a few dollars in the tithe jar or throwing dirt around at a community garden. In her mind, this was as logical, rational and helpful as any other act of charity.
It’s just bad luck that she didn’t make any damn sense.