Honk for Peace

Déjà vu all over again. Well, almost.

Recently, like many Americans I've had an itch to exercise my constitutional right to express my opinion by protesting at one of Donald Trump's rallies, but I live in Ojai, California where movie stars, artists, writers, hippies, corporate and studio execs, retirees and farmers all reside peacefully together. Yup, all twelve of us. Consequently, there are no Trump rallies here to protest. Hell, there isn't even a Trump office I could picket. In fact, there's not much protesting here about anything. Well... except on Friday night. Every Friday night without fail since I moved to Ojai from Los Angeles (a.k.a. "protest city" or "riot city" depending on your POV, but I digress), there have been a few conscious-raising Ojaians who hit our main street carrying peace signs, standing vigil as they protest our never-ending wars in the Middle East. OK, it's not a protest against Trump, or even Cruz, but a protest for peace is always a good thing, right? Cars honk at the "vigilers" in acknowledgment as they pass by. Well, their drivers actually do the honking.

So, at the designated time last Friday evening (before daylight savings time kicked in), I found myself scratching that itch, along with about six (maybe ten) 21st-century peaceniks in front of Libbey Park, across the street from the "Arcade," candle and matches in hand even though no one else had candles (I didn't have a sign). However, I was a little rusty at this peace vigil thing. Less than thirty seconds after lighting my candle, the wind blew it out. I had forgotten about a candle in the wind (sorry, Elton). I had also forgotten a paper cup. Why a paper cup, for those of you who have never vigiled? Because the cup shields the lighted candle and gives off a wonderful glow. Fortunately, a nearby garbage can donated a paper cup and a fellow vigiler shared his "punching a hole in the bottom of the cup with his car key to slide the candle in" expertise.... it takes a village to vigil.

Soon after reclaiming old skills like singing (well, in my head) "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and the cup thing, it dawned on me that this peace vigil, though equally sincere, was much different from the ones I remembered from my youth.

First: No drugs, though I did catch the label of a lovely merlot being sipped bya nearby couple on the patio of the restaurant bordering the park. They didn't share. In the '60's we shared -- joints, wine, germs...

Second: No one had a guitar.

Third: A rumpled writer-type joined us for a few minutes. That is, until he saw a movie-exec-looking passerby and hurried off to try and network himself into a two-picture deal.

Fourth: No drugs. (Did I mention that?)

Fifth: No police monitoring our every move. Well, one sheriff car did drive slowly by (all cars drive slowly - it's Ojai after all) without so much as a raised night stick.

Sixth: As the sheriff's car made its way down Ojai Avenue no one yelled, "Kill the pigs!" In this small town, the sheriff is most likely related to one or more of the protesters.

Seventh: No one was yelling, "Hell, no. We won't go!" because the only draft left is beer. However, all of them know how to pull a lever or push a stylus through a chad (this is California, not Florida, after all).

Eighth: No news media. Well, they've been doing this protest/vigil thing for years now, so it's lost its immediacy.

And, last but not least:

Hummers do not honk for peace.

Hondas driving by honked for peace. Jeep Cherokees honked for peace. PT Cruisers honked for peace. Explorers honked for peace. Priuses honked for peace (no surprise there). Pick up trucks honked for peace. Miatas and a Mercedes honked for peace. A Lexus SUV honked for peace (well, it was a hybrid). Various Fords and Chevys honked for peace. Even the Harley Hogs honked for peace, though it was hard to tell over the Harley Hog engines.

But that one Hummer that passed us by did not honk for peace. Maybe it was visiting from L.A.