I held a party but nobody came
Something changed inside of me when I saw the Beatles play on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
But I didn’t know exactly what until a few years later when the Vietnam War started and nobody in my town cared.
I grew up in a town full of jocks and geeks, where girls had to fight to keep their virtue against locker room gang bangs.
It anybody was poor, they didn’t admit it, and black people made it a point to hide out in parochial school rather than suffer the daily abuse public school handed out.
Maybe I was deluded into believing all Americans really wanted out of life was to steal land from poor rich farmers in Vietnam.
But each time I brought up the subject in social studies class, the teacher told me it wasn’t in the curriculum. When I persisted, the teachers sent me to the principal’s office.
Inspired by people like Abbie Hoffman, I even tried to grow my hair long.
Yet even my parents said I looked like a girl, and made no protest when members of the football team held me down and shaved my head as they sang The Star Spangled Banner at me.
I found out how bad things were when I tried to get books by Lenin and Marx out of the school library and was told those volumes were banned.
Eventually, I had to sneak into the adult section of the public library to even get a glimpse at them and found the volumes so covered with dust the city might as well have burned them.
I decided to make an issue of it, and protest the banning of books.
I wrote letters to local newspapers that no newspaper would print.
So I decided to hold a protest march.
I made posters and put them up around the school.
Those the jocks didn’t tear down or pee on got the word “Communist” scrawled over them, and underlined the letters SDS – for which I was trying to organize a local chapter.
I figured someone would show up just to find out what I wanted, though I knew most kids only cared about which football team won the annual Thanksgiving Day game than about how many people died in the war.
Armed with literature I arrived at the school to find two police cars waiting, and one part-time news reporter from the daily, as well as a school janitor who figured me might have to mop up my blood after the jocks got through with me.
All laughed and went away, leaving me to my lonely march around the school. At intervals a police car pulled up to ask me if the march was over, then moved on when I screamed “No way!”
One girl I liked a lot came up to me, stared into my eyes, then spit into my face, saying I ought to grow up and join the army.
That day was the longest day of my life and when it was over, I realized nobody cared but me. All the jocks and geeks cared about was getting through high school so they could become their fathers in some factory or office, mass producing kids like they were to continue the tradition.
Finally, I decided to go back to the library, not for books on Marx or Lenin, but for books on how to make bombs.