By Ellen Snortland
LA Downtown News Columnist
Ken and I are in the freezer aisle at the Azusa Costco, looking for our favorite Kirkland cauliflower crust pizza. We’re both masked. I look to my left (ironic) and see a lovely woman wearing a T-shirt with an exceedingly garish graphic of Drumpf’s multiple faces. I do a take. If I’d had liquid in my mouth, I would have done a spit-take. Instead, I do a double take, then a triple. That much Drumpf mug in my face is hard for me to, er, take. I look at her companion, and she’s wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Freedom is Coming: Trump 2024.” Ye gads!
Then the woman with the multiple Drumpf faces — let’s call her Rebecca Republican — notices me and immediately launches into a verbal volley of vitriol: “Geez, lady. If looks could kill, I’d be dead. You liberals, you can’t stand people who don’t agree with you!”
“I didn’t say anything,” I say.
She says, “You didn’t have to. I saw your dirty, dirty look!”
“I was simply amazed that you would dare to wear that in public,” I say. Truthfully, I was taken aback and fresh out of scintillating witticisms. That’s what happens when humans are hit with adrenalin and cortisol, the flight, fight or freeze chemicals. I was semi-frozen in the freezer section while she was lucid; I’m using that term “liberally.” I suspect she’d either practiced grocery store assault techniques or studied “libtard” snark attack points.
I manage to say, “Your shirt is hard to ignore.”
“You liberals despise us! One guy in another aisle told me to get out,” Rebecca Republican says.
“I didn’t say anything like that,” I counter, “and I would never say such a thing.” I hated that I was defending myself against this clown. And I use the term clown objectively; her shirt looked like a clown shirt.
I then take the time to really look at her and say, “I didn’t give you a dirty look; if you knew my dirty looks, you wouldn’t say that.” I’m still on the defensive, and I don’t like it one bit. And I was convinced that the reason for her getup was liberal baiting, so I say, “You’re simply wearing that shirt to provoke people.” She, of course, denies that, yet she behaves so cooly I know darned well this is not her first time. She returns to her refrain, “You libtards simply hate everyone while pretending to love everyone.” The other woman, Sandy Sidekick, had very little to say, and Ken had up to then stayed quiet. After the “hate” accusation, he crossed the aisle, literally and figuratively, and held out both hands to offer Sandy a goodwill handshake.
As I turn away, Rebecca Republican lobs a parting shot: “And I’m a gay immigrant!” Wow. I surmise that Rebecca’s self-loathing must run deep. Ken asks for my disinfectant gel and uses it on his hands. Who knows where these gals have been?
Oh, the 20/20 hindsight that happens after an unexpected confrontation! I wish I’d brought my handy-dandy portable megaphone: It has a siren feature that is… arresting. Or what if I’d yelled, “There’s a 5-foot-3 woman in an offensive T-shirt harassing me on aisle 357! Someone intervene!” Or, the one I truly regret letting escape, “Hey, where’d you get that shirt, Rebecca? I want one for a play I’m currently writing.”
Thankfully I found Rebecca’s shirt on Etsy. Also, by Googling conservative talking points when confronting liberals, I found a boatload of nasty comments from Ann Coulter, the late Rush Limbaugh and Dennis Prager. Ah, Dennis… he once attacked me in one of his books and didn’t even have the decency to spell my last name correctly. What a dis! I’m proud to say that Dennis Prager and James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” have attacked me publicly, which encouraged me to keep writing my columns. Excellent job, boys!
Meanwhile, I needed to shake Rebecca off and reboot to get a grip on what had just happened. As author and wise woman Anne Lamott so aptly says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
My 5-year-old playground fighter was reliably ready with, “Nyah, nyah, nyah! No, you hate everyone! I know you are, but what am I?” When playground push comes to shove, part of me wanted to kick her in the shins and then run like hell, leaving Ken behind to deal with the mean girl.
I believe this kind of encounter will be more common as we barrel toward the midterms. We’ll see more provocative clothing — don’t fall for it. Or, if you do, be prepared. Hold your nose and Google “MAGA sayings and T-shirts.” Don’t be surprised at the level of scorn and hatred you see. And please get everyone you know out to vote! Call your relatives in reddish states and help them as well.
My final takeaway? Mother Jones said, “Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflicts.” They are already here.
Ellen Snortland has written this column for decades and also teaches creative writing. She can be reached at email@example.com. Her award-winning film “Beauty Bites Beast,” which features Gavin de Becker, is available for download or streaming at vimeo.com/