I’m sure I had more important things to do, but there I was, sitting in the Marden’s parking lot like a damn pigeon. I wasn’t there for the awesome sales on shoes and shoe-related accessories. I was there to watch the action across the street.
Action is a strong word. The scene on Main Street in Lewiston was the same that has unfolded at various locations, but it was subdued.
A woman with a minivan had set up in a vacant lot to post signs and set out petitions: “Marriage is between a man and woman;” “Gay marriage is against the word of God,” or some variation of those sentiments.
Across the lot, perhaps 20 feet away, a lone man had stopped to set up a counter protest. Sort of. I’m not sure. The man had but one sign which he carried back and forth. On one side, it said: “Don’t stop.” On the other side: “Just keep driving.”
It was the classic “nothing to see here; move along” attempt to minimize the political opinion of a rival. Brilliant!
So I sat there on a Suzuki DR650SE that really wanted to be busting it up out in the woods somewhere. I sat squandering a precious 20 minutes of rain-free weather because I wanted to see how this, the debate du jour, would play out on a Saturday afternoon in June.
Play out is a strong term. During my short observation, I saw no interaction, let alone confrontation, between the traditional-marriage-embracing woman and the man who had come to quietly disagree. I saw very few people stop to join the debate. Who wants to get all political when there is perhaps a half hour of rain-free weather and Marden’s just received a shipment of bicycles and bicycle accessories?
And I mean to take no stance on this particular issue today. It’s just that the adversarial nature of man fascinates me. Since the beginning, there have been things to disagree about, and it seems there are more all the time.
When I was in Virginia, I covered protests outside abortion clinics where fists would fly as freely as the rhetoric. During the most recent presidential campaign, I saw lifelong friends part ways over differences defined neatly in red and blue.
I will assert that we are designed by evolution to compete with one another and that statement alone could foster a debate. Evolution? Don’t I mean creation?
From the big issues like abortion to the small ones like cats vs. dogs, we will just argue with one another every chance we get. If we can’t do it in a bar, we’ll do it in a blog. If we can’t get ahold of a megaphone (I’m forbidden by law to possess one, since the incident) we’ll get magic markers and make a sign.
Elephant, donkey; Yankees, Red Sox; evolution, creation; Cheers, Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern; Jon, Kate; yes, no.
It’s particularly evident in the forums that accompany a newspaper article. It doesn’t matter if the story is as mundane as a measure to plant flowers in front of city hall, it will lead to debate. People who are so smart that they should be heading giant corporations will spend half their day flinging their opinions in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS and the other half rebutting the opinions of others.
Unless someone sets a bunch of puppies on fire and hurls them flaming into an orphanage, people in a forum aren’t going to agree on much of anything. And even that might not do it. Half the crowd would declare that the fiend should get the death penalty. The other half would gasp and insist that the death penalty is wrong — and there you are, we’re off again on a great debate.
Let’s try a little more, and jump in when you’ve got something to contribute: hot dogs, hamburgers; Ford, Chevy; east side, west side; capital punishment, rehabilitation; global warming, a mere seasonal thaw.
One day, mean-spirited freaks from the bad part of the universe will come looking for us. With the entire planet under attack, we might finally get to agreeing on things in order to defend ourselves. Oh, sure. Democrats will want to try giving the invading slime financial assistance somehow, whereas conservatives will insist we should get to waterboarding the ETs, and pronto.
But the arguing will halt soon enough. Who wants to split hairs when a green army has come to enslave us all for the purpose of keeping the area between their 12 twitching toes neat and free of space bugs?
“Hi, I’m Mike and this is my husband, Tony.”
“I don’t care who you are, boys. Help me carry this grenade launcher and let’s blast those space goons from the sky.”
I was done with the great debate, as well. It was Saturday, after all, and there were five more minutes of rain-free weather to be enjoyed. I went into the store behind me and bought a few things for my ride.
If there’s one thing you can’t argue about, after all, it’s great prices at Marden’s.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. 


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