I guess I could tell you what his sign said, but I won’t. Not because I think I’m saving any souls or sparing any innocent ears, but because it pleases me that not spreading his words will make him feel pain, just a tad.
But for the story’s sake, I should describe the man. No good tale without a protagonist, eh?
He was an awful human being decked up to tell the world how awful he was.
It was the after-work minutes downtown, the 5-5:20 time period when office workers experience their brief sliver of Chicago while racing between fluorescent-laced office squares and trains home to the land where all the towns contain a tree name.
And to this brief moment when the streets are filled with the broadest crowds they’ll see all day, the man came decked for his one-man anti-protest of Women’s Day/Women’s March/Day Without a Woman festivities.
He wore track pants and a white undershirt he had scribbled words on with red and black Sharpie markers. The words on his shirt and on the protest sign he lofted overhead are of no matter. Offensive stuff designed to be offensive, his shirt blaring a word boys first hear at age 12 and learn at age 12-and-three-seconds-after-they-say-it-in-front-of-an-adult-the-first-time that that is NOT a word you use to describe women, young man.
The rhyme on his sign only worked if you don’t quite understand how “vagina” is pronounced.
Again, not protecting anyone. Just relishing that if he sees this story, he won’t even get the pleasure of having the words children tire of transmitted to adults.
To his track suit, sign and craft-time undershirt, he added a motorcycle helmet, I’m guessing a brace against the anger and violence the snowflakes of Chicago would soon inflict upon the only real man to stand up for what God and Trump made true.
And then I saw something beautiful.
Nothing. Nothing happened, and it was wonderful.
Sure, he marched down State Street, turned right on Randolph to hit up and offend the state, county, city crowd. His march was quick, his body hunched a bit over to propel him down his path faster, not quite walking and not yet running to avoid the invisible crowds of liberals who would swarm him for speaking his truth about women’s rights and whether the i in vagina is long or short.
And the things I caught people saying after they saw him, well!
“No, my cellphone plan isn’t up until…”
“I don’t know if the report is…”
“Latinicity is a restaurant, but it’s also…”
No one pursued. No one chased him down to beat him about the head and neck he had cleverly helmeted.
No one even talked about him once he passed.
All the anger he could muster, all the rage and defiance and outward scorn for people who dared have twice the X chromosome he did and not be ashamed of it, and he couldn’t manage to get anyone to extend their glance into a look.
I turned a corner even though I needed to keep going in the same direction as him. I was bored.
I was mad, however. He made me look good. And I don’t like that.
I did nothing for the Women’s March or International Women’s Day. I supported no one. I uplifted no one. I aided or helped no one. I just showed up and, because I was in the presence of a cartoonishly awful human draped in curse words and a motorcycle helmet, looked better just for existing.
Progress can’t happen if people get rewards just for not actively being awful. People shouldn’t be able to feel good about not being bad.
It makes me angry that I fell in his trap for a minute, just looked at the nothing I was doing and thought, “At least I’m not that guy.”