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Of Protesting Significance


“That was a prolific day for me,” she says emotionally. A hand goes to her heart, and she bows her head, humbled. “My first trip into the bowels of Hell,” she laughs. A fly buzzes by her ear, and she waves it away. She looks me in the eye, serious. “You never forget your first protest, your first time as the anti. It’s right up there with my first time doing – well – anything, really. Drugs, men, women, tofurkey, dissent. Finding my voice, hearing anger in it – that kind of thing fuels my every day existence.”

“You’re one of the most passionate, infuriating people I know,” I say, nodding like a Bobblehead.

“Do I get an adrenaline surge every time I protest? Fuck yeah, bitches,” she says with pride.

“And who was on the receiving end of your first public rage?” I ask, squinting into the sun. When I look back, she’s a mass of psychedelic rings of throbbing blue and red light. I blink hard, adjusting my eyes.

“It was a pro-life rally,” she says with emphasis. Stunned silence invades the room as I gather my jaw from the floor below.

“You’re a pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, anti-establishment vegan who has chained herself to a tree,” I nearly shout at her. She nods her head, holding up four fingers. “Four trees? FOUR? Believe me when I say that I am very fucking confused.”

“No one does a protest like the pro-life movement,” she says, “No one. You have to participate to know what I mean. I know you’ve been on the other side, but being filled with righteousness for life – what you think is life at the time, I mean – is a serious fucking rush. I was looking to join something, anything that got me out of the house and into a conflict.” She pauses, remembering.

“But the tactics they used, the horrible things they said to these young girls going into Planned Parenthood – girls who were probably just being responsible and getting pap smears or birth control! – terrified me. I loved the passion, but not the message. I learned a valuable lesson that day.” She picks the grass around her absentmindedly, and tucks a lock of hair behind her ear.

“Sounds like an eye-opener,” I say, relieved.

“I remember, with great clarity, where I was during the Oklahoma City bombing, Waco, 9/11, the WTO protest, Mom on her deathbed, and my first protest. It was significant to me.” She begins to hum, and I lay back on the grass, letting the sun wash over me.


“You did what?” I ask, incredulous. My boyfriend nods his head and begins to explain.

“Remember the ad campaign, back in the nineties, when we could vote for a new M&M color? My favorite color was tan, the sax-playing M&M.” I hide my smile behind a cough. His eyes, a slate blue-gray, flash dark when he gets angry. They are very dark at the moment.

“I remember, and liked the tan ones, too,” I say carefully, remembering that I’d voted for blue.

“What they didn’t say,” he continues, “was that the new color – BLUE – would be replacing the old ones – TAN – which was complete and total bullshit.” I can see him getting worked up, and struggle to maintain a straight face. I steel myself for the punchline, which is bound to be good.

“So I bought a giant bag of M&Ms, and then sent all the blue ones back to the company in protest,” he says with finality. My mouth drops open. I can tell he’s pleased. I feel myself smile, then laugh, which turns into an all-out guffaw; I double over from painful hilarity.

“You are amazing. I LOVE IT. You protested the change in M&M colors?! You were compelled to stand up for the sax-playing tan dudes?!” I look at him with pride mixed with a bit of the ridiculous. Here is someone who was peppersprayed in the face during the WTO riots, I think to myself, someone who marched with me for gay rights down Pine Street on a sunny day. Yet this is his protest war story.

He pulls me in for a hug, and I lay my head on his shoulder. I crave M&M’s – tan ones – and resolve to find them on Ebay the very next day.

12 responses to “Of Protesting Significance”

  1. Kail Kail says:

    Outstanding piece. I suddenly want to protest something, or write a letter to Coca-Cola demanding it taste in America the way it tastes in Italy (I think they use real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup).
    I imagine it must be thrilling and informative to protest on the opposing side! And yes, I'm with your man…I miss tan.

    • Avatar sn0tteh says:

      I never knew how many people agreed with him! After telling this story to many people, they have their own stories about tan vs. blue. Who knew the Mars Company was so controversial? 🙂

      • Kail Kail says:

        My favorite is Green, though. They advertised her as like a sexy model. I had a poster of her, even, coming out of the water like a Bond-girl. Ridiculous. And delicious.

  2. Avatar barb jensen says:

    Great piece. Wasn't there a rather bad movie that was slightly redeemed when the main character discarded all the colored M & M's in favor of the tan ones?

  3. Avatar sn0tteh says:

    Barb, I have to look that up – sounds familiar (and also amazing)!

  4. Avatar Manthony says:

    Looooove it!

  5. Avatar sn0tteh says:

    Thanks, Manthony 🙂 Though you've heard that M&M story before!

  6. Sam Sam says:

    Tan! I'd forgotten about that. I used to hope they'd be caramel-flavored…

  7. Avatar llxt says:

    ah….makes me think of my first protest, which was–sadly–a pro-life rally. i think i've redeemed myself since then but it's still fucking crazy that i started out in that place. gee, thanks for reminding me of that! ha ha. 🙂

  8. Avatar McKnight says:

    As a Quaker kid my parents used to take me to weekly peace vigils. My mom used to play the hammered dulcimer while I held her sheet music from being blown away by the wind.
    My first protest as an adult was at the World Trade Organization meetings in New York City. Clearly, this was before 9/11. I remember being confused about what the message of the protesters was. There were people holding signs for alternative energy, for human rights, against globalization, and for marijuana legalization. The message was scattershot. I also remember attending meetings about how to throw your body on top of protesters being beat up by the police and how to hold protests in prison by refusing food, drink, and bathroom breaks until they release you (thirsty, starving, and soaked in your own piss). Fun times.

  9. Avatar The Tailor says:

    Reading something like this makes me wish there were things to protest in the ass end of Connecticut. Well said.

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If, Then.
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"It's Complicated"
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