BY NAPOLEON COLE
Monday, December 9, 2002 12:01 a.m. EST
SEATTLE--On Thursday I found out that the helicopters I was hearing overhead were observing a "no war" protest downtown. I've been eager to get to an antiwar protest for awhile now, having fantasies about the many ways in which I could crash the party.
I jumped on my scooter and spent a half hour trying to find out where they were. By the time I ended up at Seattle Central Community College I was too late, and the crowd was breaking up into groups of 10 and walking off together with their signs. A moment earlier a motorcycle cop had pulled up and told me I needed to put on my eyewear or I could get an $80 ticket--so I pulled onto Broadway and off into a long alley that borders several soccer fields.
Pulling my goggles down over my eyes, I see through the lenses a group of kids about 200 yards down the alley jumping up a four-foot wall that leads into the soccer fields. They had been coming from the protest at the community college, and were going to walk across the fields to get to some of the Capitol Hill neighborhoods on the other side. I must admit that I had a predatory feeling, as if I were wearing night-vision goggles. I didn't start my motor yet.
As the last of the dozen kids had made it up onto the field, I started up and circled around the block to the other side of the field and waited. As the group emerged and began walking together up the street, I rode beside them.
"Hey comrades! Did I miss the protest?"
"Yeah man, it was killer."
"Ah shucks. Hey! Do you know of any other pro-Saddam things going on today?"
The group responds that this is not about being pro-Saddam, it's an antiwar thing.
"Oh. Well. Do you know where any other anti-Iraqi freedom things are going on? Or just anti-Arab democracy. I want to join in the movement."
They let me know that I've missed the point of the protest; I continue riding aside them.
"Well it's all a means to an end, right? I mean"--I pass a nudge at them--"I mean, we're all white here, lets be honest. We can't let colored people democratize. So where can I get hooked in with the crowd? I want to end all hope for democracy in the Arab world! What e-mail list are you guys on?"
Two or three of them have by now figured that I am making fun of them. But the others are lost. They respond that "only part of the movement" is interested in what I'm talking about, and they're not into that stuff. They just don't want war.
"Huh. I guess I don't understand. Why are you guys against war then? Are you guys the pro-oil-cartel-price-fixing types? 'Stability' and all that? I figured the movement was heading towards more of a pro-dictator, anti-Jewish thing. That's what I came out for."
The leader of the pack tells me, in unprintable language, that I can buzz off now. He lets me know that I'm not funny--which the rest of the group echoes, especially the ones who were with me until the end.
We both spot another protester group on the other side of the street. I raise my fist closed, and shout from our side of the street, "No war! White power!"
I hear the two groups talking back and forth as I speed off. (Speed isn't really the word--25 miles an hour.)
This ad lib performance has me smiling. I've found a formula that I like, and so I try it out again a few blocks away on a group of young girls with antiwar Greenpeace-type stickers all over them.
"Hey chicks? Do you dames know where I can find a pro-Saddam rally?"
They respond (no kidding): "Uh, I don't know. We just came from one. I think there's something at Garfield High School or something."
"Oh, OK." I hold up my fist again: "End women's suffrage!"
They respond with smiles: "Peace! See ya."
High as a kite off this stuff, I see if I can pull off one more on the way back to the office (I've now been gone for an hour).
I pull up alongside a lone 50-something protester walking with his sign folded so I can't see it.
"Hey, did I miss the protest?"
"Do you know where any other pro-Saddam things are going on?"
"No I don't. I'm not sure if I understand you. Do you mean pro-Saddam or antiwar?"
"Either. I mean, same crowd, right?"
"I suppose . . ." He thinks for a second. "I don't much care for your generation. You've got the message all wrong. This is all so stupid."
"Where do you get your signs printed up? I want to make a sign that reads 'Kill Kurds, not Mumia.' How much do you think that would cost?"
I'm not sure if he ended up thinking that I was an actual protester or not, but nonetheless I ruined his day. It showed on his face as he walked away.