March and Weird

My seatmate on the bus was trapped. As someone who both needs nine hours of sleep per night and travels frequently, I have perfected my method for sleeping in uncomfortable places.  I wore earplugs, noise cancelling headphones, an eye mask, a soft beanie, my coat as a blanket, and extra warm socks.  I reclined the seat, and I positioned my U-shaped neck pillow.  I also popped two crucial tablets of Dramamine.

A friend from church had invited me to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. From upstate New York overnight to the nation’s capital, I woke once.  My seatmate had foolishly let me choose the aisle seat, and she was stuck by the window for the entire journey, occasionally dozing herself, and occasionally listening to me sleep.  I should trademark my method.

The March for Life occurs around the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade. In 1973, this case legalized abortion regardless of a woman’s stage in the pregnancy across the United States of America.  Every year since the court’s ruling, opponents have congregated to march around the Capitol.*

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Here are some highlights from my perspective: The demonstration was peaceful, as it has been since its inauguration in 1974. No one either within the march or vehemently opposing the demonstration attacked anyone physically, even with more than 50,000 people estimated to be present.  Homemade signs were on point.  It was clear that demonstrators had created their signs with enthusiasm and the entire contents of their neighborhood craft store.  Dr. Seuss’s words from Horton Hears a Who!—“A person’s a person, no matter how small”—were depicted next to a cheerful Cat in the Hat.  A very authentic looking Wonder Woman and an Amazon were in attendance with their friend Pikachu.  Wonder Woman carried a quote from the movie, “I’m willing to fight for those who cannot defend themselves.”  When our divisive POTUS spoke via live video at the pre-march rally, he was greeted divisively—with boos as well as cheers.  Big recycle bins were in place so that there was less waste when folks were done holding their signs.  The weather was gorgeous for January: high 40’s to mid-50’s and sun.  I did not get lost.  I got a free scarf.

I wound down from the day with a relaxing shuffle through the crowds at Union Station, just north of where the march had finished at the U.S. Capitol Building. I waited in a restroom line for more than 20 minutes.  Seats in the station food court were scarce, but my friend and I looked bleary-eyed enough that a gentleman willingly gave up his spot for us.

I waited with the church group until my local D.C. friend, Matt, got out of work. We met up at a local small plates joint where I renewed my energy with chorizo and a fancy mango sangria.

Matt’s suggestion for the evening’s entertainment was extremely hesitant.

“There’s a few free comedy shows in the area, but they’re not until later. If we want to do something earlier, there’s this Weirdo Show.”

When I didn’t immediately hush him, he continued.

“It’s part burlesque, part comedy, part juggling. The last time I went there was a bit of fire breathing and sword swallowing.  Also lots of…”

He paused under my unrevealing gaze.

“…Tassels,” he finished, thankfully not punctuating with any hand gestures.

“Okay,” I said, munching a bite of goat cheese and pepper. “I’ll think about it.”

We lingered at the table, ordering more cheese and chorizo and catching up, until Matt glanced at the time.

“If we want to go to The Weirdo Show, we should leave now.” He reversed.  “But we don’t have to go, we can catch one of the later comedy shows.”

I contemplated the decision, my sangria burbling encouragingly in my stomach.

“Let’s go to The Weirdo Show,” I said.

……………………..

I could not have dreamed up a program that was more of a transition from my day’s activities.

The hostess introduced herself as ‘Dr. Torcher.’ Her blue hair was cut short with diagonal, uneven bangs left to fall across her face.  She wore a referee style striped shirt with a ruffed collar.  Her nerd vibes oozed from her smile, revealing her excitement for the show.  She was fantastic.

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Dr. Torcher announced the origins of The Weirdo Show and went over location rules and safety while I snapped a couple of photos of her.

“There are two photographers here tonight,” she said. I lowered my conspicuous DSLR camera sheepishly.

“We ask the rest of you to refrain from photography. You can find pictures from this evening’s show on our website.”  I hastily stuffed my camera back into my bag while Matt laughed softly.

“This is an interactive show,” she announced.

“Oh,” I said, flatly, my posture instinctively more withdrawn.

“Sorry,” said Matt, apologetic but amused.

The first set featured a black cloaked dancer with a silver, featureless mask. As the artist, Divoid, jerked her head back and forth to a meta-genre of music, I sipped my beer, and contemplated my decision-making ability.  Divoid slowly removed her mask and cloak to reveal a face and gray body suit decorated with pink, orange, and yellow polka dots.  She danced around the small stage, and then entered the audience to dance among us.

Our seating was propitious. We were in the front, but on the second raised level of the seating area—close enough to get a good view, but far away enough that our level wasn’t the first choice for the entertainers.

The rest of the first act included more dancing, artfully placed sparkles, cross-dressing, twirling, and handheld fans.

The audience was as entertaining as the show. When one of the dancers performed a somewhat shocking move, a woman in front of us jerked back, threw her hands in the air and shouted in surprise.

“I wasn’t ready for that!” she exclaimed to her companion.

Directly in front of the stage, a group of what we took for middle-aged business people, cheered and waved cash in the air with gusto. They had reserved the table.

One fan threw a dollar bill at the stage. When Dr. Torcher picked it up at the end of the first half, she noted to us that it was folded into the shape of a perfect airplane.

The next act was, if possible, weirder than the first. The second round of drinks I purchased was necessary.

Any guest that was there for their birthday, including a gentleman who had donned cat ears for the occasion, received a cupcake and a slow, unenthused hustle from Dr. Torcher dressed as an ice cream sundae on stage.

Divoid returned, changed into a simple pink t-shirt and leggings. She wore a long silver blue wig with detritus attached to it, and she performed to a ditty of Oscar’s from Sesame Street called “I Love Trash,” which ended in her rolling in a prop bag of garbage on the stage floor.

A new artist, SaymoSaymo, a shirtless man in an orange cape, juggled cigar boxes on stage. His routine was charismatic, including a great color scheme, captioned posters, and a cleverly placed pun.  When he accidentally dropped one of the cigar boxes, there was a brief stillness, and then the kind, fervent audience let out the loudest cheer of encouragement yet.

The show concluded with an enchanting candelabra fire dance that noticeably warmed the small room and made me glance worriedly at the low ceiling.

We ducked out, cutting through an employees only room to dodge the crowd around the performers. Laughing in the cool January air, we tried not to trip over uneven bits of sidewalk and reviewed the fascinating levels of weirdness we’d experienced.

 

 


 

 

*I realize the pro-life/pro-choice debate is a red-hot button issue. However, if you’re open to learning more about my opinion of the issue, here are some articles that make me feel good about attending the March for Life and may provoke some thought on the issue:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/abortion-rights-go-against-the-spirit-of-civil-rights/2018/01/18/7e98c2e0-fc7d-11e7-ad8c-ecbb62019393_story.html?utm_term=.1f8dfd66bb6e

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2015/01/07/feminist-case-against-abortion-pro-life-roots-womens-movement

https://rogerresler.com/2013/02/06/a-persons-a-person-even-if-dr-seuss-thinks-otherwise/

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/pro-life-pro-science/549308/