When I was fourteen I stole a Dilly Bar from the Dairy Queen on a dare.
It was lunch break from my junior high school, and we had an open campus. That meant we could walk across Douglas Avenue to go to the corner drugstore for candy or the Dairy Queen for ice cream.
My friend, Debbie, stole something every day. The line was so long to pay, she did it to save time. I never took anything and instead waited in the line while Debbie went off to flirt with the boys.
Maybe that’s why I was never good at flirting. Too much time having a conscience.
When I was five, I played at Gay Somebody’s house up the street. One day I came home from Gay’s with a plastic rose.
“Where did you get that?” my mother demanded. “That is not yours. Take it back.”
The walk up the block to Gay’s house was the longest walk of my short little life. What would I say? How would I explain myself?
When Gay’s mother opened the door, I threw down the plastic rose and ran home, not saying a word. Needless to say, I was afraid to steal after that.
But Debbie was taunting me.
“I dare you, Susie,” she said. “Everybody does it.”
I looked around. Only two adults in the whole place, the rest of us were in the 9th grade. The adults were busy taking money. It was easy to slip the Dilly Bar under my shirt.
Would alarms go off at the door? Nah, no bar codes or sensors back then. Would the vanilla treat dipped in chocolate drop onto the floor as I walked out? It was cold against my stomach.
Debbie led the way. I hurried behind her. When we got outside and safely out of view, I pulled out the ice cream treat.
“You did it!” she said. “I’m so proud of you, Susie.”
I didn’t feel proud. I felt the same way I’d felt nine years before when I threw down the fake rose and ran. A friend really shouldn’t ask her OCD friend to steal. We have enough bad thoughts running through our heads already. we don’t guilt or or the threat of jail or embarrassment to add to it.
I ate the absconded ice cream, my stomach in knots. I’m sure I spent the next class period passing gas due to lactose intolerance. Back then, the term wasn’t even a term yet.
Why did I think of this while applying my make-up this morning? It was stream of conscience, thinking about Portland, thinking about the protestors, thinking about the conversation I’d had the night before with a Republican guy friend who was quick to call the protestors vandals. Yes, some protestors are vandals. Not all protestors are vandals.
I have been a protestor, and I have never been a vandal. Yes, I stole a plastic flower in kindergarten and a Dilly bar in 9th grade.
I blame you, Debbie Harvey!
My point is, that when I argue about the right to peaceful assembly, as guaranteed in our Constitution, and I get arguments from people about anything else but what we talking about here — losing our rights to peacefully protest — it takes me back to the Dairy Queen in 9th grade and how I broke the law to save 35 cents.
The protestors (not the vandals) are not breaking the law. Why are they getting rubber bullets to the head and tear gas canisters lobbed at them during a global pandemic, where coughing is not advised in large groups?
An overstep by the president? You bet.
Anyone who wants this administration for another four years will see a continuation of the erosion of our rights as U.S. Citizens.
Need I say more? Just this.
Register to vote.