|Tea parties are SO MUCH FUN!
||[Apr. 14th, 2010|08:32 pm]
Yes, the Tea Party Express was in town, and, in response, a bunch of folks decided to have a tea party.|
I HAD SUCH A GREAT TIME ELEVENTYONE!!!!!11!
kpht scored us the best spot in the Common -- right next to the main entrance of the subway. We were over the hill and far away from the stage where various politicians were talking, but most folks who were going there would walk right past us on their ways there and back. But it was far enough away that we weren't in anybody's way, and, if people spread out to the side away from the path, there was enough room to do some juggling, poi-spinning (without fire, of course, what with the "no open flames" rules), play a bit of Frisbee, and that sort of thing.
I got there a bit later than I had originally hoped; Lis and I worked out later that, when I say, "So, I want to be there for when it starts at ten," she, like a normal person, hears, "I want to be there at ten, when it starts."
That's because NORMAL people think about the FRONT-of-the-curtain time. Me, I was thinking about that from a working-a-function concept, which means that you take the "go" time, subtract half an hour, and that's your ready-to-go time, half an hour before your "go" time, and you take the amount of time that you think it's going to take to do setup, and double it, and that's how long before your ready-to-go time that you're onsite with all your equipment, and, of course, you have to add in parking and a gracious margin for if traffic is unusually bad.
I can't really blame Lis for hearing what I actually SAID instead of what I was THINKING. Anyway, even with traffic and parking and everything, I was onsite with all equipment at ten fifteen, and ready to go at ten thirty.
I was expecting parking to be really bad, what with the ten thousand people expected to be there with Sarah Palin talking, but I had absolutely no trouble parking in the garage under the common, right in the middle of her speech. I'm certainly not complaining, of course.
Anyway, I got there, and I saw lovely people whom I don't see even REMOTELY often enough, and I brought a campstove which I'd enclosed in a flame-resistant bucket to make sure it wasn't an exposed flame (I checked the regulations about what "no exposed flames" means, and what would actually be okay to bring), and I brought a tea kettle, and eight gallons of water. I also brought an assortment of Twinings tea (Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, English Breakfast, Jasmine green tea), and a couple of bags of loose tea that we had left over from our last trip to Montreal.
In the future, I'll drop the Darjeeling for another box of Earl Grey -- we ran out of Earl Grey with still an hour or more left to run in the event, and we only used about half the Darjeeling, and I think that nobody would have been devastated if it wasn't there.
I also brought two loves of soft white bread, about a pint of washed, trimmed watercress leaves, a couple pints of paper-thin cucumber slices (protip: just use the vegetable peeler to "slice" them), and watercress butter -- which is just butter blended in the Will It Blend Blendtec with the stems of the watercress that I had pulled the leaves off of. Also, a pepper grinder and salt shaker, some honey, a carton of Parmalat unspoilable milk, a box of sugar cubes, a bag of lemons, a picnic blanket, and maybe an odd and end other than that, too. Oh, yeah -- also a stovetop espresso maker and some espresso.
Having a kettle and a source of heat allowed us to have eight gallons of boiling water, which allowed us a lot more tea for a lot longer than we otherwise would have had.
lilairen brought an adorable miniature human, and boxes of petits fours. Lots of other people brought lots of other delicious things.
And we had tea and watercress-cucumber sandwiches, and cookies, and chocolate stout cupcakes, and all sorts of lovely things.
Including the media, who would ask us things like why we were there, and what we stood for, and we'd say that we stood for having tea and cookies, and would they like some, and they'd say, sure, and they'd have some tea and cookies and maybe a watercress sandwich.
I don't know if we had any "official" media have cookies with us, but I know that there are a few flickr sets and blog posts which have been put up in which the reporters had some tea with us.
Other people who would come over to have tea with us included protesters, counterprotesters, tourists who were in town to walk the Freedom Trail, people who worked in the area who were just walking through on their lunch break, and a gentleman who saw us there on his way to open up his store across the street (who heard me say, "Oh, darn. I forgot to bring stirrers." He said, "I'll get some from my store." And he did. If you stirred your tea with one of those big red stirrers, those were donated by a man who has a store across the street.)
One woman came by; she was a Tea Party Express supporter who had a big yellow arrow-shaped sign that said "FAKE TEA PARTIER" on it. She was there to try to ferret out the infiltrators who were there to make the tea-party movement folks look bad. She accused us of being these sorts of fakers; we just pointed out that we weren't claiming anything other than that we were here to drink tea and have a party. She stuck around for a bit and had some espresso, which she really liked, and she had a good time. I have some photos with her; I'm glad she enjoyed herself. I enjoyed having her there.
People did ask us what our actual political point was, whether we were making an artistic statement, or what? My answer was always, "We heard there was a tea party. We figured, we like parties, we like tea. So we're here." People would follow up to try to dig deeper, asking me what I thought of the POLITICS of the Tea Party Movement, and I'd simply answer, "I don't really like to discuss politics at a tea party."
And, you know? People got it. Whether they were there to support the Tea Party movement, or to protest it, or were just walking through bemused by the whole thing, or just walking through ignoring the whole thing, or ANYTHING -- most people totally clicked with the idea of just plain having a tea party. I am pretty sure I genuinely saw protesters and counterprotesters just sitting next to each other drinking tea. Not TALKING to each other or anything, but also not YELLING at each other.
I admit, though, that I broke my own rules on decorum toward the end. I blame my own clumsiness.
See, I melted the tea kettle.
It's an easy thing to do -- all you need to do is, after emptying the kettle, instead of putting on the ground, put it back on the flame. Then, get distracted before you remember to re-fill it. And when you remember, and pour the water in, it comes out the hole in the bottom that's been burned through.
That, in itself, wasn't a particularly bad thing. The kettle was less than nine dollars, and most of the folks had left already, anyway. And nothing else was damaged.
But from that point on -- and there wasn't much left of the day at that point -- there was (shades of Douglas Adams!) no tea.
Which changed EVERYTHING.
Up until that point, when people started getting a bit political, I'd been able to say, "Now, now; it's unseemly to discuss politics at a tea party."
But now? Someone responded with, "But you're out of tea. So it's okay now."
And then a protester and counterprotester got into it. And I started trying to de-escalate. "Now, now -- you believe that Obama is going to use the military to get a third and fourth term? Well, there's no reason to argue about the likelihood of that is there? You'll be able to find out empirically if you just wait."
Unfortunately, a third person there managed to say something along the lines of "Well, that's what they said to the Jews before they dragged them off to the gas chambers," and I . . . um, said something along the lines of, "Sir, please just don't go there, okay?" Eventually I said it REAL LOUD, which I rarely do.
And at that point, I'd had it.
I turned to the pro-tea-party person and said, "If that gentleman there manages to prove his point, are you willing to be convinced and change your mind?" He blinked and said, "What?"
I turned to the anti-tea-party person and said, "If THAT gentleman proves HIS point, will YOU be willing to be convinced?"
I then looked at them both and said, "If neither of you are willing to be convinced that you're wrong, then WHY ARE YOU WASTING YOUR TIME TALKING TO EACH OTHER?"
One of them sputtered -- and I don't remember which one, precisely, because their reactions were pretty much similar at this point -- "Debate is a vital part of the democratic process!" And I said, "Yes! And you're not debating!"
One of them said that, well, he'd been president of the Boston University or maybe Boston College debate team, and I said, "So it's CLEAR that you don't know about debate, then!"
He was offended, and I went on, "Debate, the SPORT of debate, has about the same relationship to real rhetorical argument that chess does to war!" Someone objected, and I amended it -- "Okay, fine -- that fencing does to swordfighting. But, in any case, an actual DEBATE in the real world is different than the sport of forensic debate, and you can be deeply thrown by mistaking one for the other."
The bizarre thing is that they were listening to me.
"Are you trying to convince each other? Then you have no point in continuing, because neither of you is willing to be convinced. Are you trying to convince those of us around you? Well, then," I addressed the handful of people gathered watching, "are YOU willing to be convinced by what these gentlemen say?" People sort of shrugged, in a sort of "no, not really" manner.
"Then you have NO REASON TO BE HAVING THIS FIGHT."
The person who had brought up the reference to the holocaust muttered something, and the anti-tea party person said, "He just accused me of not being a gentleman!" I said to the pro-tea-partier guy, "Did you just say something to mean offense?" He said, "No, not at all".
"No, not him -- the other one."
I said to the other one, "Did YOU say something to give offense?" He said, "No, I was just stating a fact."
"What did you say, sir?"
"Well, you won't let me talk, anyway."
"What did you say?
He sort of backed off.
I then realized that, as long as I had already lost my cool, I may as well continue. "In any case, besides mentioning the Holocaust, I have one more thing that really bothers me. And that's people using the word 'enormity' to mean 'enormousness'. The word 'enormity' should only be used to refer to a great EVIL, not just ANYTHING of a large size." One of the spectators asked, "What does the dictionary say?" and I said, "It depends on the dictionary. Several of the more descriptivist dictionaries do accept 'enormousness' as a secondary definition for 'enormity', but I don't agree. Mostly, I accept the process of semantic shift in language, but I feel that that SPECIFIC semantic shift robs us of an expressive and useful coloration."
This digression gave the original arguers a chance to escape.
At which point, I went on, "I'm not UNREASONABLE, here. In fact, in recent years, I've even heard an argument that convinced me that the word 'martini' may be an acceptable term for drinks such as the Cosmopolitan . . . "
I'm not going to go into details, because I think most of you have already heard my rant about that.
But . . . here's the thing. They listened to me. I'm not proud of myself for losing my cool and telling people to stop arguing in front of me if they weren't going to do it right, but I AM proud of myself that, when I told them that, they LISTENED to me.
And some of the people who'd been watching seemed to enjoy the interplay.
In summary, tea party good.