Noe Valley Protest

White women in denim jumpers, panama hats, aviator sunglasses, and floral-printed masks walk down Sanchez, in their Tory Burch Miller sandals, toenails painted Rodeo Red; they juggle hand-drawn BLM signs and oat milk lattes.  Maybe instead of defund we should use the word divest, says a woman tying her white Balenciagas.  Defund is going to scare off a bunch of people, says her friend who pumps hand sanitizer into her child’s bubblegum pink hands before providing her with a beeswax wrapped snack of Arkansas Black apple slices. 

There are more hypoallergenic dogs than people of color at this protest. One of the labradoodles, who looks a lot like Fatal Attraction-era Glenn Close drops a deuce right onto the sidewalk as their owner in a breathable tunic shouts “I can’t breathe!”  The protest upsets traffic: an Audi turns around, some joggers reroute.  We applaud.  A vizsla humps a labradoodle.  Its owners shout “James Murphy! James Murphy stop!” A couple of impatient protesters march into the raw juice bar for acai bowls, shots of chlorophyl, and sun potion cordyceps.

Eventually the protest dissolves when everyone realizes the farmer’s market is about to close.  On the walk home, we walk past the many Victorian houses, once the color of Easter eggs, now battleship gray, or what we refer to as gentrification grey.  The sidewalk is littered with surgical masks and gloves.  “We are the virus,” I joke.  But no one laughs.

Kristian O’Hare’s writing has appeared in Third Coast Magazine, Synaesthesia Magazine, Cobalt Review, San Francisco State University’s Fourteen Hills, South 85 Journal, Mud Season Review, and Foglifter. He was awarded a first-place prize in Very Short Fiction at 2020’s Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.

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