Fenno: Pink army men


Monday morning. Fenno rolled over to turn off her clock alarm. She was a bit surprised to hear FNX playing “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” But maybe her head was still a little fuzzy from the Shaw Hall Crawl. Sixteen drinks is definitely my limit, she decided. There’s no way those three guys hanging around the keg were Oasis. In the shower, she heard BCN playing Barry Maguire’s “Eve of Destruction.” Just to be sure she hadn’t tuned to the wrong station, she worked the dial back to 103.3, which was also playing “Eve of Destruction,” only not in stereo.

Leaving the bathroom, she spotted a flyer one of her roommates had left on the kitchen table. “That’s it! The antiwar rally at the Science Center!” Fenno zipped into her room, dumped everything out of her rayon shirt drawer, and found what she was looking for. A few minutes later, she was outside.

Everything felt somehow different on Mass. Ave. The air had a yesteryear quality to it, and the sunlight reflected softly off the silver wheel rims of six banana-seat bicycles carrying their owners to campus, ringing bells and laughing like it was the first day of finals. The light glimmered a faded yellow, and Fenno knew this would be one of the most important days of her life. She couldn’t wait to see Kevin on her way into school —

“Crystal, turn off that voiceover machine!” Fenno yelled. “Oh, sorry,” was the reply. That Becky Slater was up to her old tricks again, just trying to get attention and making everyone else feel small. She’s just jealous, Fenno thought. Crystal retreated back onto Everett Street. Having regained control of her inner monologue, Fenno arrived peacefully at the Harkbox Café. She wanted a granola bar, but what she found there was even better.

“Hi Renée,” Fenno said to the beaming elf princess floating six inches off the ground in front of her. Renée Dall was always a treat to see in the morning. “Hi Fenno. You look beautiful. That’s such a great skirt. What’s it made of?”

“Thanks so much. It’s copies of The New York Times editorial pages from the last few months. I’m wearing them to the antiwar rally. You’re coming of course?”

The corners of Renée’s mouth turned down ever so slightly. “I really wish I could, but I have to baby-sit the Federalist Society. Without J.R. around to help, it’s so hard to find time to do anything but watch the kids.”

Over Renée’s shoulder, Fenno spied a shirtless Brian Hooper in full face paint standing on a table, about to leap on an unsuspecting but similarly shirtless Mike Geiser, who was minding his own business while beating a drum. Renée turned around just in time. “Brian, get down!” she scolded. “Don’t make me come over there.” She faced Fenno again. “See what I mean? Well, have a good time, and remember, the Republicans want your blood!”

Fenno thought this sounded a little over the top, even for Renée. “Excuse me?”

“You know, the GOP-sponsored blood drive tomorrow.”

“Oh, right,” Fenno answered, a bit relieved. “Of course. See you later.”

Fenno looked at her watch: It was almost noon. She hurried to the front of the Science Center. She could hear the chanting before she could see anyone. “No attack on Iraq! Bill of Rights, give it back!” It rhymed and everything. This was the real deal. Fenno started chanting along. She regretted not bringing a sign. Some of the signs were very bold. They said things like, “No War!” and “Down with War!” Others were more nuanced, appealing to moral sentiment with messages such as “War is Bad” and “Why Have a War When We Could Be Smoking Some Serious Doobage Over at Alex’s House? — Yeah, It’s Okay, He’s Cool” and “Party at Eliot House this Thursday.” These kids really know where it’s at, Fenno reflected.

She had to admit to herself, though, that the “Bill of Rights” part of the chant was a little perplexing. Maybe the undergrads knew something about the Bill of Rights that Fenno didn’t. Or maybe they were saying that America had stolen Iraq’s bill of rights. That would be mean. In any event, Fenno made a note to make sure there were no soldiers quartered in her apartment when she got home. Meanwhile, she was happy to see 200 Ivy League students sending a strong message to Washington. This would be sure to get their attention. Fenno took another brownie from the organizers’ table.

Across the crowd, Fenno saw Maya Alperowicz standing near the edge of the protest and looking over her shoulder every once in a while as if checking to see if a cooler protest might develop. Fenno walked over to her. “Maya, I’m surprised to see you here. Are you against war in Iraq too?”

“Of course I’m against war,” she answered. “War is so last winter. Blockades are the new in thing.”

“But we’ve been doing something like that to Iraq since 1991,” Fenno noted.

“Right. It’s retro chic.”

Fenno thought she’d done her part for the cause. Besides, she didn’t want to miss the rally against discrimination in the military back at the Law School. What a great day, she thought. The Pentagon won’t soon forget this. As Fenno passed the construction on the corner of Kirkland and Oxford streets, she heard a construction worker whistle. “Hey,” Fenno remonstrated. “Sorry lady, but that’s some real saucy political commentary Maureen Dowd’s got written on your butt there.”

Up at the rally, Fenno knew things were off to an especially powerful start when Prof. Dershowitz concluded his address with an exhortation not to “cooperate with Evil.” Fenno could not doubt Dershowitz’s sincerity, as the principle was certainly one that had guided him in his decision to join O.J. Simpson’s “dream team.” Fenno also appreciated Professor Halley’s reminder that deep down, we are all very gay. But Fenno did not also appreciate Professor Halley’s implication that she became aroused whenever Fenno walked into her Family Law class.

Fenno realized she had to think hard about her own personal stance on ‘don’t Ask, don’t tell’ when she saw the little pink army men being passed around. She began to wonder. Army men in pink must be easier to spot and shoot at. Then again, they were very small, so they’d probably be harder to hit than regular-sized army men. So maybe the Army would consider allowing very small openly gay men to enlist as a start. Fenno pulled out one of the brownies she’d taken from the antiwar rally and gave it a good hard sniff.

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