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Pizza and Jeers at the Kavanaughs’

What type of person goes to Brett Kavanaugh's house on a Tuesday?
New,York,City,,August,26,,2018,-,People,Protesting,The

What does a guy wear to an abortion protest at Brett Kavanaugh’s house?

It’s a question I’ve never considered. A flannel and jeans? That codes right-wing. A blazer and slacks? That would make me look like a reporter. I want to blend in.

Athleisure, maybe? I guess I could do jogger sweats and a hoodie—the chick-face-deep-in-a-pint-of-Ben-and-Jerry’s-after-a-break-up look. I am so tired—so, so tired—of having to defend women’s reproductive rights. That sounds kind of believable coming from a guy in sweats.

I realize that athleisure is a bad idea. If the protestors start throwing rocks at Kavanaugh’s house, there’s no way the cops will believe the guy in a Junk Food tee and tattered sweatpants outside a Supreme Court justice’s house on a Tuesday night is a reporter. Even if they do, when they find out where I work, they’ll toss me in D.C. jail. Athleisure is out.

I decide to split the baby, so to speak. I put on khakis, a mock turtleneck from Zara (don’t ask), a North Face jacket, and a ball cap. I can’t say I look tremendously masculine. Maybe that’s for the best.

I live 15 minutes from the cul-de-sac where the protestors said they were going to gather. It is two streets down from Kavanaugh’s house. The notice said people would arrive as early as five o’clock, but I figure 5:20 is fine. I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to.

I turn down the side street where the protestors are meeting. The houses are nice—colonials painted various shades of beige, with boxy yards and charming little stone walls. The shrubbery is perfectly manicured and the lawns are well-kept. My dad would like it here. I would, too, if I could stop thinking about how expensive the houses are.

One house has a Black Lives Matter sign staked in the ground by the road. I’m always amused by people with seven-figure incomes who embrace revolutionary politics, like they’re Angela Davis or something. When the revolution comes, maybe they’ll eat Kathy from Chevy Chase last. She’s playing the long game, I guess.

I parallel park my Ford between an SUV and a sedan. When I look toward the bottom of the cul-de-sac, I don’t see any protestors. Several women are walking their dogs and a few dads in quarter-zips are milling about as their kids play soccer. As I walk down the hill I pass a dad in a Maryland Terps jacket who probably makes more in a day than I do in a month. I have no reason to hate him, but I do anyway.

When I get to the bottom of the hill, I see a twenty-something-year-old woman sitting on a rock thumbing through her phone and a guy with a camera around his neck taking a phone call. They’re the only people in sight between the ages of 18 and 35. I’m sure they’re protestors. I nod to them both and look down at my phone, mirroring their pose.

When I lift my head from my phone I see a guy with a scraggly beard in a hoodie and rumpled sweats jaunting down the hill. (Apparently I was right about protest attire.) A woman in yoga pants, who I assume is his wife, struts in beside him.

“Are you guys here for the protest?” the twenty-something asks the couple. They respond in the affirmative.

“We’re G.W. students,” she adds, noting that her classmate has a camera and wants to film the night’s events. “We wanted to talk to people about the Hobbes case.”

These people are going to a Supreme Court justice’s house to protest a ruling he hasn’t made on a case they can’t name. To think: I could be at home eating dinner right now.

Hoodie Guy and his wife are talking logistics. They appear to be the protest organizers. As they converse, I realize I’m standing several feet from the crowd, so I inch closer. Hoodie Guy turns and asks me for my name.

“John,” I respond, pretending not to be nervous. “I saw the protest was happening nearby and wanted to come check it out.” In broad strokes, that’s true. The woman introduces herself to me and I quickly move the conversation to small talk—where I live, the miserable traffic along the camera-monitored backroads, how long it took me to get here. The last thing I want to talk about is abortion, especially because this woman is being nice to me.

Before we get too deep in conversation a few more women approach the cul-de-sac. An elderly woman who looks like a post-conciliar nun walks gingerly down the hill in all black carrying a placard. Another, probably in her early 60s, is wearing a skin-tight dress and a jacket that says YES I DO on the back. One woman is wearing yoga pants and a pink simulacrum of a vagina on her head.

“I’m here and I’m queer!” someone shrieks in the background. Are they making fun of my turtleneck? I turn and see a small army of teenagers step out of a Volkswagen and descend the hill. Among them—I can’t tell if this person is a teenager or an adult—is a girl in a mask, glasses, and a furry cap with horns that looks like of one of the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are.

If I wore something like that in high school, I’d like to think my friends would have beaten me up.

The teenagers start making miniature tiaras out of glow sticks and offering them to the protestors. As one of the glow sticks snaps out of place, one of the high schoolers screams the F-word. I am startled by how loud it is. I don’t feel bad for the Maryland Terps guy, but I do feel bad that his kids had to hear that.

One of the high schoolers walks up to me. She is holding a set of misshapen glow sticks.

“You’d look good in a tiara,” she tells me.

“No,” I chuckle. “I don’t think so.”

One of the George Washington University students is walking around taking pictures of the placards—”SAFE ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE,” reads one; “hey KAVANAUGH RESIGN NOW,” reads another; “THOU SHALT NOT MESS WITH WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS (FALLOPIANS 1:21)” reads a third. The most unseemly is a small green poster with a silhouette of a woman’s nude torso with the words “GET THE F— OUT,” rendered, of course, in full.

I’m hanging in the back trying to avoid being captured in any of the photos. As I lean out of frame, the elderly woman in black comes up to me.

“It’s nice to see young people out here,” she says with an earnest grin. I offer a genial laugh and nod.

“It’s always nice to see people who are passionate about something,” I reply. I don’t really believe that, of course. People are “passionate” about all sorts of terrible things. I’m just doing my best to be friendly.

“What drove you to come here?” I ask. I’m genuinely curious. She tells me she remembers the world before Roe v. Wade and doesn’t want other women to feel what she felt as a teenager. She pauses, and tells me about the terror she felt as a teen when her period came a few days late.

“Maybe that’s too graphic,” she chuckles.

Have you looked around?

“No,” I said with a smile, “I can handle it.”

I told her I appreciated her empathy and apparent goodwill. I was cautious not to endorse her position. I think she noticed my guarded response, and asked me the one question I didn’t want to hear.

“What do you do for work?”

I should have worn athleisure.

“I’m a journalist,” I tell her reluctantly. I’m trying to keep my composure.

“For which publication?” she asks.

Be careful. “A magazine in D.C.,” I respond, hoping against hope that she’ll leave it at that.

“Which one?”

It would be a real shame to go out this way. I never got to see Rome. I’ve never even been to a Doobie Brothers concert.

The American Conservative.”

Look, I tell her—I’m here to listen to your views. I’m not trying to “get” you or anyone else. I want to see what drives people to come out to a protest like this.

She pauses. She tells me a story about a pro-life Christian friend of hers. This is America, she said. People have different views. It was the most tolerant thing anyone said all night.

Ultimately, she didn’t tell her fellow protestors that the guy in the turtleneck is a right-winger from Pat Buchanan’s magazine. I owe her one.

As our conversation ends, a police car appears atop the hill and rolls down to the cul-de-sac. An officer, five-foot nothing with kick-me glasses and a round belly, steps out and approaches the crowd.

Hoodie Guy walks up to the officer and introduces himself. There’s a brief back and forth, and the officer tells Hoodie Guy that he knows about the protest and wants to make sure there won’t be any trouble.

“Most of the people in the neighborhood probably agree with your issue, so try to be respectful of them,” the officer added with a chuckle.

And what if they didn’t?

As the cop drives away, Where the Wild Things Are turns to the teenagers.

“Don’t ever talk to cops. They’re not our friends, ever.”

The teenagers seem to agree. One of the older women pipes up from the back.

I wouldn’t paint with so broad of a brush, she said. Some officers are good people.

“I’m a woman of color,” the horned-hat woman responds.

That’s the end of that argument.

***

As the group departs in formation from the cul-de-sac and makes its approach to Kavanaugh’s house, Hoodie Guy turns on a pair of speakers he has nestled atop a pull-cart. He turns on classic rock, which is a relief. I had expected Lizzo.

One of the older women takes the lead, and the horde of sixty-somethings and their teenage skirmishers march down the streets of suburban Maryland. Cars pile up behind them; before long, the line of cars spans much of the visible street. I stand off to the side of the road and bury my head in my ball cap.

After a long walk, we arrive at Brett Kavanaugh’s house. It’s an unassuming two-story colonial with an American flag hanging near the porch. There is a basketball hoop facing the street where Kavanaugh’s daughters presumably shoot baskets. The protestors are hooting and hollering, blasting music on the speakers.

Two figures appear in the top story windows who appear to be Kavanaugh’s daughters. They look down with apparent dismay and shut their blinds.

There is an ad hoc podium set up by the sidewalk. A woman with a nasally voice and a matter-of-fact delivery steps to the microphone to explain why the group is terrorizing Brett Kavanaugh’s family on a Tuesday night.

“Today, I don’t know about you, but I had a few conversations with people who said, ‘Why are you going to his house? You’re just going to make him mad.'”

It strikes me as a reasonable question. Given what I just saw, I want to know the answer.

“I said, ‘Who cares?!'” She adds that he has “inappropriately been assigned to the Supreme Court” and “should be impeached or resign immediately.'” She lowered her voice and rattled off what sounded like a scripted bit. “We will continue to hold the Supreme Court accountable for rights of all people in the United States,” she said. “And they should be upholding people’s needs over profit and corporate needs.”

What side do you think the corporations are on, sweetheart?

The woman thanks the media for coming, presumably referring to the G.W. students and not your humble correspondent. She asks if anyone else would like to step to the microphone to say a few words. Naturally, the masked woman in the Wild Things cap approaches the sidewalk.

“All right,” she bellows, microphone blaring into the still Maryland air. “My name is Dr. Sophia, and I just want to remind Kavanaugh that he’s on stolen indigenous land!”

Somehow, she is already out of breath. A lone, muted “Yeah!” comes from the crowd.

“People like Kavanaugh have the gall to think that they run the United States, and they have the ability to, um, basically—to try and make everyone uphold white supremacy and colonial culture.”

Another speaker approaches the impromptu podium, this time it’s the short-skirt-wearing sixty-year-old with makeup caked on her face. Her name is Judith, apparently, and she “came over from Virginia tonight.” She claims that she used to work with Brett Kavanaugh—she knows his kind—and warns the crowd about the wiles of Tucker Carlson.

“I just want to remind you of a couple of things. One, when you hear things like LSAT, that’s a whistle, okay? Tucker Carlson is laughing his ass off because it isn’t about LSAT, it’s about distracting people from what’s important. Justice Kavanaugh is not fit to serve,” she said.

Tucker Carlson is using the LSAT to distract people from Brett Kavanaugh’s incompetence. Got that?

Just as another speaker steps to the impromptu podium, a man strolls in on the far side of the street carrying a red bag and wearing a mask. Apparently, he’s with DoorDash.

The poor guy has no idea what’s going on. He strolls right up the Kavanaughs’ steps carrying his bag of food. He knocks on the door. When no one answers, he jostles around with the security interface, trying to ring the doorbell and signal that the food has arrived. Just as he begins to toy with the door handle, two security guards approach him from opposite sides. He drops the food and leaves. One of the security guards brings the bag in through a side door.

My eyes move from the porch to the bottom of the deck. Apparently, one of Kavanaugh’s neighbors is standing guard—an old man with a jacket, a ball cap, and a grizzled face. His arms are folded as he stands mute behind the protestors. I notice he’s going back and forth with some of the teenagers. I walk in his direction.

“F— off you white fascist piece of s—,” one of the teenagers cackles. “F— off!”

“Go f— yourself,” the old man responds, his face shaking and his voice cracking. “Do it quickly.”

The entire group by this point has packed up and is beginning to leave. The music is blaring in the background—it’s Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” One of the teenagers takes Petty’s advice and turns back to the neighbor.

“You’re heading out soon, man. We’re going to rule when you’re gone! F— you!” I’m sure the SPLC will be cracking down on these girls for spreading the Great Replacement conspiracy theory.

In the meantime, I hope the Kavanaughs enjoy their pizza. They’ve had a long night.

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