Last Friday, Portland, ME had a parade.

Portland has parades everytime the Patriots win and also, whenever the Red Sox win. So that's that parade for the next 80 odd years. (Sorry, sorry, my huge apologies to Red Sox fans; don't blow up my site or anything.)

Anyway, the parades are kind of silly; usually they consist of about three cars with the sports stars sitting on a firetruck. Everyone waits around for about five hours. The cars pass by. The crowd cheers. The sport stars go over to One City Center and give speeches. The crowd cheers. Everyone goes home. Since I work on Monument Square directly across from City Center, I can watch all this without having to expend any effort.

I will confess right now that even if the parades consisted of what I think parades should consist of, I wouldn't attend if I didn't work where I work; I'm not a parade kind of person. But I do have a definite idea of what parades are suppose to be like since I played in Junior High and High School bands up till my sophmore year.

(1) It has to be freezing.
(2) You have to stand around and freeze for hours.
(3) There have to be bands.
(4) There have to be lots and lots of cars with waving people.
(5) There have to be people twirling batons.
(6) There have to be vendors.
(7) It has to last forever.

So the whole three-cars-and-a-sports-star thing just seemed really weird to me.

BUT, Friday we had a real parade. It started as the regular tribute to the Patriots and then, since a number of our National Guard came home last month, it turned into a tribute to the Maine National Guard (you know, Patriots . . . patriots) and then, since Portland has never been terribly pro-Iraqi war, it grew to include all veterans and then to include all "heroes" (like police officers and firefighters). So we ended up with about four High School bands and a bunch of floats (such as a big Uncle Sam bird) and the boyscouts carrying a huge American flag and the Red Cross and a whole bunch of National Guard divisions and members of the Airforce (with a great "plane car," very low to the ground, kind of like one of those funny Shriner cars) and helicopters flying overhead and lovely Navy officers in their very sexy uniforms, some Junior High cheerleaders twirling batons, a bunch of tanks, a rock band (on the back of a trunk), and finally the firetrucks with the football players. There were vendors. It was in the daytime, and it wasn't cold, but it did last way too long.

And boy, weren't the people in my office pissed.

For those of you not in the know, my office is fairly liberal. All but three of us voted for Kerry last Fall, and pretty much all I listened to for about a year, starting back last Spring, was how evil Bush is and how evil Bush's cabinet is and how slutty (seriously, slutty) the amazing Condoleezza Rice is and how horrible Red States are and how stupid and wrong and jerky evangelicals are and so on and so on. And so on. There were even e-mails and anti-conservative cartoons stuck up all over the office--the sort of thing that Wiccans in small towns sue over, except that isn't my style. As you can imagine, however, it hasn't exactly left me with a high opinion of liberal tolerance, reasonableness, balance, understanding or high-mindedness. And my sincere apologies to those liberals who are tolerant, reasonable, high-minded, etc. Oh, and to the amazing Barack Obama, the purple state guy.

Personally, I find it utterly impossible to speak about politics to people who are incapable (and unwilling) to allow that the left has as many crazy extremists as the right and that you can find similar personality types at any point on both sides of the political spectrum. And people who admire Michael Moore are beyond me. If the guy didn't take himself seriously, I could stomach him better. But the sanctimonious "know all" attitude really turns me off. (Not to mention the adolescent "loser" sign he made at the Republican convention; liberals don't strike me as terribly mature people, politically, that is--about a lot of other things, just not politics; again, my apologies to those who are.)

Anyway, the building manager dropped off confetti, and me and three other women threw it out the window. For you Kerry supporters, the three other women were pro-Kerryites. But they didn't see that disagreeing with Bush's approach to the War on Terror meant (1) they weren't patriots and (2) they couldn't or shouldn't support the troops, servicemen and women who have literally put their lives on the line. Even the resident protestors were out waving their little flags and giving speeches to the press.

But outside of us four confetti throwers, everyone else stayed in their offices and sulked. One guy put a French flag out his window.

Sometimes, it's like being in High School.

These are people who have been totally okay with all the demonstrations that took place on Monument Square in 2004. And even attended some of them. These are people who have been okay with all the (fairly pointless) parades we've had up till Friday's. These are people who have been energetic supporters of "the right to free speech" and still are, on paper at least. But oh my goodness, Friday's parade was just soooo tasteless, as we roll our eyes and make our girl clique gestures. Where is Michael Moore when you want to feel self-satisfied and self-righteous? (By the way, Michael Moore's sister did come to Monument Square last Fall, and people from our office went to hear her speak; so did Teddy Kennedy--come to speak, that is.)

The sulkers were a bit hampered, I'll admit, as even the daily protestors had figured out. There are lots of people who think that the Iraq War was wrong and/or think that it could have been run better (even I think the latter), but many of those same people will draw the line at dissing or attacking servicemen and women. Some of these people remember Vietnam and they don't want to see a repeat--where people who have agreed to die on behalf of America are treated like pariahs when they get home. We don't want to see another generation of embittered veterans, thank you very much.

I thought it was great. Nine months of overhearing (not willingly) conversations about the yuckiness of conservatives and Republicans and Christians, etc. etc. and all it takes is one parade to make up for it. And those aren't my rules. Apparently, one conservative-style fiesta=one hundred liberal do-dahs. One conservative commentor apparently = fifty liberal ones, which is why liberals can go on ad nauseum, and with much wrath, about conservative "hate radio" (I will never believe that liberals are automatically nicer, kinder, gentler people than conservatives; if you think that, you haven't worked in my office or gone to my college). It sure gives the conservatives the weight of the odds, doesn't it?

Now, I don't usually talk about politics on this blog. I like to stick to popular culture, which politics is but it is really a popular culture blog in its own right. But this was a parade, which is very much a popular culture event. However, I won't be doing these kinds of popular culture events very often since, as I indicated earlier, I don't really like parades. So I'm going to stick it under History & Learning, even though it should really be under Festivals or something. Enjoy.



Henry said...

Really terrific entry. Nice reporting.

Carole said...

Hey, Kate, tell us how you really feel!! :) But, hey, I was glad to learn that you found a couple of other bush-supporters in that office....that's cool.