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The Protest

So, okay, I was gonna go to Washington this weekend to protest what’s apparently been dubbed the “war on Iraq.” I’m not exactly sure I agree with the chosen preposition, but that wasn’t why I was protesting. At any rate, we had a couple of meetings about it, and everything was going well…until Tuesday night. The horror!

Honestly, my feelings about the war really had little to do with wanting to protest. I am indeed against the potential war, but not really enough to protest it. Mainly, I went to meet girls. I am a sad, sad man.

Things didn’t work out, though. As it turns out, I’m not likable or charming in any way. I, of course, knew this in advance. I was hoping I’d be able to trick some of the ladies into believing otherwise. I think when I punched the leader of this youth rally team spirit rah-rah organization in the mouth, they officially turned their backs on my sweet lovin’.

The problem: I’m indifferent but opinionated. This is a somewhat deadly combination. Add to it the fact that I’m tactless, loud, and sarcastic—it’s like social-life poison. Also, it apparently causes fistfights among political circles.

So we have this meeting. I missed the first one on Sunday because I spent four hours watching an old miniseries starring Joe Don Baker on Encore Mystery, so the ladies were very insistent that I be at the meeting last night. If I didn’t show, I didn’t go. I love threats that rhyme.

Apparently, very few people showed up to the meeting on Sunday. I think it was because of the short notice (I was e-mailed about it Saturday night, and while I could have gone, I imagine quite a few people had other things already planned). So, as an incentive for people to get all fired up about their apathy, they created the rhyming threat. It was effective, as it got me to go to the meeting.

I had some time to kill. I had a farewell drink with one of my professors and a few of the students at some dive (trust me, coffee tastes better when served in spit-washed glasses), I had dinner, then I sort of wandered around for an hour before the meeting started.

We met in a little pseudo-cafeteria, and the place was brimming with automatous ideology. There was this strange, politically charged fervor that I have never before witnessed in the flesh. Honestly, I hate to be a spoil-sport because I know a lot of people in this country get off on things like this, but I thought it was more than a little creepy. I spent most of my time standing in a corner, despite waving, noisy whispering, and occasional nudging to join the few friends I had in this group.

Then this guy starts speaking, and suddenly we turn into the cast of Les Misérables. He’s leading us to some form of revolution. George W. Bush is the new great dictator (thoughts of Charlie Chaplin bouncing a globe off the ceiling immediately entered my mind…) who must be stopped before he destroys peace for the entire world. Though based on his incompetence I see Bush as a pawn of his cabinet, I think that point is still somewhat valid.

But he continues: we, in our efforts to save the world, need to protest this war to preserve the freedom of Iraqis.

Huh?! What freedom? Okay, sure, Bush is a horrible prick who is destroying our country. But what the hell is Saddam Hussein? He’s not exactly Abe Lincoln. Mainly, my thought on the war is that, yeah, Saddam Hussein and his little regime should be probably be dismantled one way or another. My problems with the war—and the reason I am willing to honestly protest it, even if it is just to meet girls—involve the improper motivation for the war and the government using false scare tactics to engender support.

They want to fight this war, and they want to win it, because they want oil. Oil is good. Dismantling Saddam’s government is good, because then his people might not try to make us—and others—explode for a few decades. Also, he’s kinda evil. But when they say things like that, it’s all a load of crap. The bottom line: if we seize control of the country, we get all the oil. And oil is good. Or so the oil lobbyists tell the Congressmen as they slip massive wads of cash into their suit pockets.

Ranting aside, I’m still wondering what freedom he’s referring to. And I expressed this sentiment in a statement identical to that. This caused some sort of bizarre, icy silence. I’m not sure if the silence was because I dared to interrupt Marius Pontmercy up at the podium, or if it was because they secretly knew I was right, but they got so swept up in being complete idiots that they all kinda forgot.

He said, “The freedom to make their own choices. The freedom of democracy.” Again, that gets a big “Huh?” from me. Has he ever heard of this country before? Is he maybe confusing it with Indiana? Sure, they held a free election that was a joke, but they don’t have a whole lot of freedom over there. Also, they get killed a lot by their government for no particular reason.

Most of the people in the room must have been thinking the same thing because the murmuring started. And Marius knew he was losing them, so he elaborated: “If we go in there and start bombing Iraq, we will take more lives than we’ll save.”

This was a baffling continuation of what he had just said, but it got the audience back on his side. I was the enemy again. So I said loudly, “How do you know that those same lives won’t be taken by the Iraqi government? Just as much death with none of the democracy.”

That’s when the fistfight started. He sashayed toward me in a huff, and everybody started yelling random and incoherent things (I swear I caught something about a rubber ducky and pickle brine). I don’t really know what he planned to do to me, because I was too busy punching him in the mouth. I’m not really strong, and I’ve never really been in a fistfight (unless you count the time in fifth grade when I dropped a guy with an unexpected hit to the gut after pretending to be nice and friendly-like—I stole that one from Cagney), but this guy was a bigger pansy than I am, and my lack of depth perception managed to come in handy: I aimed for the eye, but I got him square in the jaw. It was a nice hit, and my entire arm fucking hurt for an hour. I’m such a wuss.

My memory of the actual physical confrontation is fuzzy and bizarre, like an Oliver Stone movie with 20% less histronic wailing. It’s basically just a haze of people shouting, a guy moving toward me, and me reacting without actually using my brain (which was the damn thing that got me in the trouble in the first place), and then I was outside.

I got one good hit in the mouth, and then I was grabbed from behind by some Middle Eastern-looking dude and a black guy who I think was in my U.S. history class a few semesters ago. Anyway, I basically got booted out of the meeting and out of the cafeteria. I gather they probably won’t welcome me with open arms in the event that I show up on Columbus Drive on Friday.

Hrm, in retrospect, I guess I still haven’t been in a fistfight, per se. Yeah, I hit a guy with my fist (and it was fun, too, until the throbbing set in), but he didn’t hit me back. He was too busy trying to maintain some sort of authority by screaming “GET HIM OUT OF HERE!” and pointing furiously at the door while his cronies ejected me.

Lessons learned:

  • When invited to cheesy political rallies, DO NOT CONTRADICT THE HEAD SPEAKER
  • Never leave the house under any circumstances.

Overall, it was a productive evening.

Anyway, I guess I should probably throw away the phone numbers I got…

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