Every Saturday since February 28, 2009, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party has gathered on the northeast corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and North Federal Highway. And almost every Saturday, I have caught them out of the corner of my eye. It's usually just a quick glance, and I'm usually paying closer attention to a sandwich, so unless one of their signs says something about free sandwiches (which they unfortunately do not), I've never given them much thought.
This Saturday, I decided to put down the sandwich and get a better view. And, as any loyal eHarmony customer will tell you, things look a lot different when you go face to face. Here are five things I learned from the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party.
1. The Tea Party Doesn't Like Media
I empathize with zombies. I mean the old-school zombies. Not these new ones that can sprint and jump and operate heavy machinery and Skype with their zombie friends who are on vacation in Europe. No, the old-school ones that walk like your grandpa after he's had too much beef. Because those poor zombies are doomed to forever endure a life of meandering from fleeing person to fleeing person. And it's not fun to watch people run away from you. Sure, the zombies want to eat your brains, but perhaps if you treated them with kindness, they would only nibble on a thumb before passing along.
People aren't sprinting away from me, but as I get closer, there is a heightened sense of urgency added to their shuffle. And every time I approach someone, the look on their face makes me want to apologize. The Fort Lauderdale Tea Party doesn't trust the media. The two have a troubled relationship. The Fort Lauderdale Tea Party website has big red text on its homepage that reads, "Where's the main-stream-media? Are they liars or stupid? Or Both!" Which is kind of like saying, "Why don't you love me, you fat smelly idiot?!"
2. Signs Don't Need to Make Sense
Signs don't need to make sense. They just need to contain a series of keywords followed by an exclamation point. You can arrange these words in really any order you want. Let's try:
The Nobama Immigration Constitution Is Lying!
No Bailout Healthcare Glenn Beck Guns!
Nancy Pelosi Eats Too Much Cheese!
Keep Government Out of Government!
Now all you have to do is slap these puppies on a flimsy white sign (don't forget to write the first four words way too big so it looks like the person who made the sign was shrinking as he wrote it) and you're ready to rally!
3. The Tea Party Flag Is Pretty Badass
Say what you want about the Tea Party, but it got one thing right: that flag. Actually, the flag was designed during the American Revolution, and the Tea Party just kind of adopted it as its little flag baby, but for the purposes of this post, I'll call it its flag.
OK, back to the flag. It's yellow. Not a wimpy Coldplay yellow but more of a badass assassin yellow, like Uma Thurman's tracksuit in Kill Bill. Sitting smack dab in the middle of the flag is a rattlesnake. You heard me: a rattlesnake. But not a docile rattlesnake that's sunning itself on a hot stone.
No, this rattlesnake will bite you in the dick because it is Tuesday and it's bored. This rattlesnake will take a piss on Canada's maple leaf, then slither over to California's flag, bite that dumb bear in the ankles, and watch it die a slow, venomous death.
Underneath the rattlesnake are the words, "Dont Tread On Me." If you're wondering where the apostrophe is in the word "don't," the rattlesnake fucking ate it.
Unless Mexico passes a vote to change its flag to Danny Trejo holding a switchblade, the Tea Party wins the competition for coolest flag with ease.
4. Everyone Must Read the Constitution
"Have you ever read this?" A man is asking me, holding a little pocket version of the Constitution in his hand. I told him I had to read it in high school, but I can't remember if I actually did. If my typical classroom behavior is any indication, chances are I glanced at the first few words, then spent 30 minutes trying not to fart on the cute girl behind me.
He starts telling me about a waitress who served him last night who said she had never read the Constitution and how shocked and horrified he was by this. He then told her, for what I'm assuming was an uncomfortable amount of time, how important it was that she read every word of it before voting. He does have a point, and I suppose it is important that we, as citizens and voters, be familiar with the governing laws of our nation.
But all I can picture is a poor girl with aching feet grinding out her last hour of shuttling stinky appetizers to and fro who's getting berated by this guy for not being more involved with a government that has about as much interest in raising her minimum wage as it does in sending Kim Jong-un an Edible Arrangement.
5. I Don't Know How to Be Objective
I'm about to leave when the same man who has the pocket copy of the Constitution stops me and asks me to promise him something. And when he looks at me like an abused dog that just really wants to cuddle, his eyes swelling with sincerity and caution, and asks me to please -- please -- be objective, I learn one more thing: I can't.
I've got all these juiced-up, preconceived notions in my head that are grabbing any skinny little objectivity nerds they can find and beating the shit out of them. And while, logically, they may be right, they're not morally OK.
Those preconceived notions are making me feel like a bit of an a-hole right now. Because Pocket Constitution Man could have been making some really interesting points, but all I could think about was how I was going to make fun of his sign later. That's no way to live. You should give people a fair shot. Poor Pocket Constitution Man didn't stand a chance.
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