During the Women’s March of 2018 I went to see a play. Exiting downtown’s Westlake Station I saw it beginning. Not the play, the march. It sort of thrills me to see a march before the marching. All that latent energy tied up in last-minute alterations to signs and costumes. People talking fast and taking pictures. Sort of like being backstage at a play. I walked into someone on the sidewalk while trying to read a sign, apologized, and rounded the corner. Police were setting up too, and several made me nervous when they ran halfway down the block and shouted some question up to another officer.
In a monorail car I got a bird’s-eye view of the whole scene. The cops, the marchers, the empty blocks ahead. An excited passenger pointed for her boyfriend or brother or cousin to see something on the street and hit me on the arm. She apologized and I barely heard her because of a sinus cold I not-too-gallantly endured. I didn’t reply quickly enough, which lead to her more profuse apology when I finally got my head turned. I imagine I looked very irritated, as sinus pressure makes one look, and my plea that she was no bother at all likely didn’t comfort her either. I stammered something like, no, no, it’s not… until she laughed and turned to her boyfriend or brother or cousin. She laughed a lot, even as we exited the car at Seattle Center, and must have been having an excellent day.
I was sure no one else could love Eve like I did.
The march was to end here at Seattle Center. With an hour and a half to burn before my matinee I ate a burger, walked around some offices on the upper floor, and wrote some phrases in a notebook. By a statue outside the Center Stage front-of-house, I eventually saw the Women’s March invasion trickle in. The only working Men’s restroom was near the theater, so it grew into a popular hangout for couples, men holding signs for women as they peed and vice versa. I sneezed several times and was blessed by a few kind protesters. I wrote more thoughts leaning against the statue and pretending to be a journalist covering the march. I don’t know if I affected a good journalistic face, but I hope whatever I produced made at least a few people waiting to pee feel the thrill of their accomplishment. But I tend, as everyone does, to overestimate how often my face is observed in public. I would be grateful to know it’s very little.
The play was Timon of Athens, not Shakespeare’s best, and I read he abandoned it, so a good portion was written by Thomas Middleton. There are no parts for women in the play except for a group of Alcibiades’s whores, so the company cast Timon as a woman, as well as Alcibiades. The bevy of whores was downsized to a single whore.
As a rule, I fall in love with one cast member per play, and she was it, the whore. Timon, thanks to poor writing and poor acting, was easy to dismiss. And I don’t think I was Alcibiades’s type. This problem, that I fall in love with one cast member per play, began when I was ten, maybe less. A company acting out Adam and Eve’s fall from Eden came to my school’s gymnasium. Eve was short and her legs dark and muscular. She had large, deep eyes and a confident voice like I had never before heard issued from a woman in my small Protestant community. Dutch farming communities can be aggressively patriarchal.
I was sure no one else could love Eve like I did, sure I was the only boy staring at her alone, thinking semi-chaste, chivalrous thoughts of her. I would later dream her visage on the bus and need books for my lap. Years earlier I tried to see up the grassy skirt of a cartoon Eve in a picture Bible, with little success. I must have had an Eve thing generally.
On the bus back to West Seattle I thrilled deciding what books to read that evening. Once home I opened Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and discovered more about how bad Timon of Athens was. Indeed it was. The next day I picked up Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 2. I have not read Book 1, but I don’t know if it matters where I begin.