My old apartment building was squat in the middle between an abortion clinic and a McDonald’s. On Saturday mornings, the protesters would march in front of the clinic, usually men, usually in work boots and gray hooded sweatshirts, wearing tunics over their clothes, these long maroon tunics with sashes with ivory crosses embroidered onto them. They’d march up and down with blown up color copies of fetuses and pass out shouty, inaccurate pamphlets to passersby. The McDonald’s workers, mostly immigrants from Somalia, would wear golf shirts and visors, like McDonald’s interpretation of what a Nationwide executive would wear on casual Friday or to a company pig roast. You know, sporty.
On Saturday mornings I’d often wake to a bewildering mix of mechanized loudspeaker voices with competing sentiments. In one ear, I’d get “That’ll be $3.16 for the fish-a-majig and shamrock shake” from the McDonald’s drive thru, and in the other ear “America is a diseased whore on her deathbed” shouted from a bullhorn by a red-faced protester. Luckily, if you took Valhalla, the street that splits the clinic and McDonald’s, past the buzzing crosswalk sign going or tweet tweet for blind pedestrians, past the Southwick Funeral Parlor offering cremation and pre-planning services, if you took that road all the way to the bottom, it dropped you off at the Olentangy river, where dog lovers stood around in circles swapping tips. Tips like giving estrogen to older females, or how to stop puppies from chewing up your underwear. The dogs themselves, many of them rescues from no kill puppy havens where they had been brought because they nipped at grandma or at junior, ran free and off leash, divvying up the territory, just working things out.