A YEAR LATER, WOMEN'S MARCH II IS BOTH PROTEST & CELEBRATION
“What is it, Phoebe?” he said with a note of worry, as he practically leaped off the living room couch, and came on a wobbly run to greet us in the front hall.
“It was GREAT,” I said.
The cat look mystified, perhaps still half asleep, maybe exhausted from his sprint from the couch to the hall, a physical undertaking that occurs only once every two months or so.
“The Women’s March,” I said. “Don’t you remember? I told you that the Nice One, the Grouchy One and I were going to the Rhode Island edition of the Women’s March at the State House in Providence – held exactly one year from the Trump inauguration last Jan 20.”
“Oh,” Cat said. “How did it go?”
“Fantastic,” I said. “There were thousands of people. A lot of them carried signs. People had kept their pink pussy hats from last year – or maybe they picked up a new edition. A real cross section: There were old people….”
“Obviously, there were old people,” Cat interrupted. "The Nice One and Grouchy aren’t exactly spring chickens, and they were there. By the way, are spring chickens good to eat?”
You never know whether Cat, who is piling on the years himself, is trying to be funny or is displaying Wandering Mind Syndrome, something we worry that he’s picked up from the 45th.
“Any cats?” Cat wanted to know.
“We didn't see any. But we weren’t there for the whole thing.” I said, not wanting to spoil the mood by pointing out that the best thing you can do with a cat on such occasions is to leave him or her home.
“Anyway, the point is that it was a really big turnout, probably not as big as last year’s. But it’s going to be pretty hard to duplicate last year’s, because the Trump Horror was still pretty new and the Women’s Marches in Washington and around the country were our first chance to show how we felt.”
“It sounds like you are making excuses,” he said.
“Just the opposite, Cat,” I explained. “This afternoon’s crowd came pretty close to last year’s. The demonstrators covered all of the South Lawn and the massive marble stairs leading up to the State House back doors, just like before; so, whatever the count turns out to be, it’s going to be respectable: Many thousands.”
“Speaking for myself, I expected a much smaller turnout. For one thing, today's wasn’t publicized to the degree of last year’s. And, not to state the obvious, it’s been a long year. An awful, discouraging, frightening, dispiriting, exhausting, shocking, strenuous year as the reality of the Trump incumbency has revealed itself.”
“I would think that a protest would draw MORE people out,” Cat said, “now that we all know Trump is even worse than we'd dreamed.”
“Cat, the people are tired. Every morning, we wake up to terrible Tweet storms. Suppers are disrupted, because by that time, Trump has done something, said something that’s taken the country to a new low. He’s covered the front pages of newspapers with words like ‘SHITHOLE,’ or ‘SHITHOUSE.’
Remember that debate? Where the Republicans were saying the President of the United States of America hadn't actually used one of those words to describe countries likely to have lots of brown and black people, because he'd used the other word; so the papers and TV had it all wrong that the Commander-In-Chief is a prejudiced potty-mouth."
“It takes a toll, Cat,” I said. “People are hurting; friendships, marriages split apart. We're cranky, wary, hyperalert. All perfectly reasonable excuses for people to stay home on a weekend. But I was completely, totally wrong.”
IT WAS A WONDERFUL surprise. People know now for sure what it means to have a mean, lying, bigot in the White House. And on Saturday afternoon, they got together to not just protest, but to show that they want to do something about it.
One of the things I told Cat was how nice everyone was.
Lots of people came up to Grouchy and the Nice One and asked whether their kids could pat me. And they did.
Many compliments about my soft ears and snowy, almost white coat. But not much about my wonderful eyelashes. I mean, I do have nice eyelashes.
Anyway, it was like everyone was in a good mood, and strangers talked to each other. One guy was handing out free signs and gave a poster to the Nice One.
By the way, I was hardly the only dog. Lots of people brought dogs. And dogs were mentioned: One sign said: “My Dog Is Better Than The President of the United States.” Kind of a no-brainer, I thought. But again, we weren’t there to criticize, but to celebrate.
One of the organizers said that today was a teenager’s birthday, and the only present she wanted was for her mom to bring her to the demonstration. So thousands of people sang her “Happy Birthday.”
“Bottom line, Cat,” I said, “A year later, lots of people are upset about Trump. A year later, lots of people want to do something. And they did and they will.”
“Hope you’re right,” Cat said, heading back to the couch and jumped back on it. I still don’t know how, with all that weight and flab, he manages to do that.
But today is a day not to criticize, but to celebrate.