This post is a transcript of the story I read at the Studio B Story Slam last night. I would have posted a recording, but my lady spouse was out of town, and she’s my camera woman. Union job. Can’t ask anyone else to do it. Anyway, I wrote it specifically to perform, so you’ll have to imagine dramatic pauses, animated facial expressions, and pauses for occasional laughter. And you’ll have to imagine how excited I was to read … and then how honored to win.
Thanks to Studio B and the magnificent and talented storytellers who moved me to tears and laughter and personify the power of words.
THIS IS WHAT A STORY SLAM LOOKS LIKE! ….. (now you)
Some people thought we were brave to bring our 10 and 13-year old sons to the Women’s March in DC…to take them on a bus, for 4 hours, at 4:30 in the morning…. without phone chargers! And, I’ll admit, we had doubts. Would they be miserable at the march? Would they make us miserable? Would we have to throw ourselves in between our defenseless children and some inbred sociopath and a can of pepper spray?
We prepared ourselves for the worst, and I looked forward to the best possible outcome… material for their college application essays.
We also had to prepare the children for what they might see there. The night before the march, I explained to them why their mother, and thousands of women and men, would transform into pussies with knit hats. It would be the first of many teachable moments throughout the march.
We all survived the bus ride and walked from the buses to the march. We strolled through a welcoming neighborhood where we knew we were among friends. We passed a lovely townhouse with 2 men and their one, small child on their impeccably manicured lawn. They waved to us next to their lawn sign with a meaningful quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
We also survived the very long rally, inspirational to many but torturous for boys who had to stand for hours – and a bit cruel for their mothers teased by the wafting scent of weed in the air.
Finally – we marched! The boys rallied, energized by the cheering masses, and I identified new opportunities for those teachable moments as we read sign after sign.
I found myself repeating things like, “Yes, that’s a mean-spirited but totally accurate thing to say about our president.” “No, that’s not a word you can use at school.” “Yes, that woman is carrying an enormous knitted replica of a uterus and fallopian tubes … that is not an elephant.”
We stood in front of the Trump Hotel as everyone shouted SHAME, SHAME – while the gender non-conforming youth skipped behind us shouting SHADE, SHADE! Oh, to be young again, when you could skip without worrying about wetting yourself.
In the 80s, in my youth, I marched a lot. I marched against apartheid. I marched for reproductive rights. I marched for gay rights. One of my best friends in college, Susan, and I marched together throughout our college days – on campus, in New York City and DC. We were outraged and angry, and we wore lots of buttons all over our jean jackets! That’s how angry we were.
I recalled those days while I stood shaming the patrons and owner of that hotel. And that’s when I saw her out of the corner of my eye. I couldn’t believe that in all of these hundreds of thousands of people, I would find her – my marching sister Susan. I gently pushed my way to her…‘cause everyone was super polite at the Women’s March.
“Excuse me…pardon me…so sorry.” I tapped her on the shoulder. She turned to look and we stared at each other in disbelief and utter joy as if to say, “How could this be?” and “This is so right!”
And right there in the middle of skipping, chanting marchers, we embraced. And laughed and cried and held each other some more. What were the odds that we would find each other and march together again in solidarity?
The boys caught up to me and looked on with fascination. “We used to march together all the time!” I said. “We are sisters in struggle!” They smiled politely.
We all marched together for a while; my family, Susan and her family, and eventually we broke off so we could head back to the buses – but not before ducking into a restaurant for a Bloody Mary. It felt the appropriate drink to have during a women’s march.
It was a glorious, empowering day – – for me, anyway. I did wonder how it was for the boys.
What would their memories be?
How would this day transform them?
Would they understand the power and importance of protest?
Would they recognize the necessity of the privileged to fight for the oppressed?
Would they learn to pack supplies in a transparent bag, practically yet efficiently?
Or was the day for them only about power bars and pussy talk?
I can’t say that I know what they got out of it, exactly, but I hope that at the very least they’ll look back and say, “I was there – with my two moms, and it made me the intersectional feminist man that I am today.”
That’ll be the first line of the college essay, anyway.