It was Film Festival week. It was St. Patrick’s Day. I was tipsy after a long workday at the theater and a long evening drinking beer with my friends. The bar was closing and I was on my way home to go to bed when I got a phone call from work.
It was 2 a.m. Surely this had to be a joke. “Hello?”
“Tara, it’s Gary. Nobody’s here to pay the sex workers and this one lady is FLIPPING OUT. I need you to get down here immediately.”
Oh boy. Film Fest drama to the extreme.
I asked my friend to change course and drive me to the theater. On the way there, I tried to imagine what could have gone wrong. Three days into the Festival, I’d already cleaned up so many of their messes. Such was the nature of Film Fest week. Their people took over the theater with their wacky, jam-packed program of avant-garde films, musical presentations, and performance art pieces. And I made sure they didn’t burn down the building. I figured that since they’d brought in the touring Sex Workers’ Variety Show in the past, they had that component under control. Clearly this was not the case.
My friend dropped me off me near the stage door. I let myself in, turned past the dressing rooms, and immediately spotted the lady in question. She was thick, with broad shoulders, long hair, and a booming voice that would not stop. “And we are not fucking LEAVING until one of you gives me a goddamn check. And until one of you gives me a check, I’m gonna say that you’re a scumbag,” she pointed at tech director Gary, then continued, turning to every stagehand in the vicinity. “And you’re a scumbag, you’re a scumbag, you’re a scumbag.” Finally she got to me, “And you’re a scumbag. And you should all be ashamed of yourselves!”
Now if I’d been a fool, I would have said, “Well, actually it isn’t my fault because I work with the theater, see. And the theater has rented the building to the Film Fest. And the Film Fest coordinated this evening’s program with the University’s art school. And the art school students decided to bring in your show, so they’re the ones who should be paying you right now. So pardon me, madam, but I am NOT a scumbag. I’m just a drunk operations manager who got called into work at 2 a.m. Please do not besmirch my good name!”
All that background info was true. But I could see her rage, and felt like keeping my head attached to my neck, so I didn’t say a word of it. And more than that, I respected her rage. She should be pissed! So instead of talking back to her, I stepped into action, made a couple calls, and cut her a check. I knew with three non-profit entities involved (the Film Fest, the art school and the theater), it would be months before we’d get our money back. But I also knew no one wanted to pay union stagehands to hang overnight with a disgruntled artist who was absolutely not going to leave. So I made it happen.
I thought of that intense, outraged, and successful woman when I paid a visit to my Senator’s office last week. I didn’t prepare a statement for whatever lackey would speak to me about Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. I knew no matter how carefully I planned those words, nothing I could say would move the Senator to change his “yes” vote to a “no.” All I knew was that I wanted him (or his lackey, by proxy) to get a taste of my rage.
The Senator’s state director met me, my spouse, and our friend in a vestibule outside his office.
He shook my hand and then I bluntly asked him, “Am I correct in assuming the Senator plans to vote ‘yes’ on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation?”
“Well I just want you to know that I think you and your boss are absolutely disgusting.”
This little man in freshly pressed pants and a shimmery necktie was aghast. “But you can’t say that! You just met me!”
And then I was channeling the lady from the sex workers’ show big time. I knew I wasn’t going to get my way like she did in her situation, but I reacted how I think she’d have reacted if I’d been foolish enough to argue against my guilt-by-association.
I continued. “I’m here to make sure you have a terrible day.”
He staunchly replied, “I won’t!”
“Well you should.”
“I won’t, and I’m going to ask you to leave.”
“No! You’re going to listen to me. You choose to work for the Senator who continually supports this administration. I don’t know how any of you could watch that hearing yesterday and believe that rapist is fit to be on the Supreme Court.”
This sniveling bureaucrat replied, “He is not a rapist. That’s not what Dr. Ford said about him.”
My husband groaned. “Okay, sexual assaulter. Are you really gonna parse that?”
I stared down at the little man. “Seriously, what is wrong with you? And why can’t the Republicans pick another anti-choice misogynist? It’s because they know they can’t get it done before the election, right?”
He stared at me blankly. “I don’t know.”
“Yeah. There’s a lot you don’t know, isn’t there?”
This went on for a few minutes. I told him that I know he and his kind hate women. My husband and our friend threw in some barbs of their own. And then we left — just in time to see a security guard greet us on our way out.
When we got outside the building, I felt odd and confused. I’d never told someone off like that before. But as the day went on, the whole thing struck me as very funny. I just kept picturing his confused weasel face repeating, “You can’t say that! You just met me!” I’m guessing he’d never had that experience, either.
I think he got a taste of my rage, so I’ll call it a success. There’s lots of work to do before my comrades and I possess a political power that could match the power that sex worker wielded when she got her way. But I look forward to it. I want to be as loud and adamant as she was. And I hope that eventually, I’ll come face-to-face with a person who has the power to give me what I want, who recognizes the righteousness of my demand, and who has the wisdom to relent without saying a goddamn word to correct me.