The dinner table suddenly got very quiet. It was almost as though she could now see the word floating above the centerpiece. Maybe flashing neon; VUL-VA, blinking off and on. If it had been a word balloon like in a comic her mother would have been desperately trying to erase it. As it was everyone stared, some at her, some at her uncle and some at their plates hoping for it to be over, or for it to explode in to a big argument; depending on the family member.
"Excuse me, young lady, what did you say?"
She almost laughed. It had been decades since anyone had called her young and she wasn't sure anyone had ever considered her much of a lady. It was just her uncles way of trying to remind her of her place.
"Vulva. You keep saying vagina and what you mean to say is vulva. Although that is incorrect as well."
"I am sure I am not incorrect. I mean to say vagina hats. They were out there marching in their vagina hats and it seems as though you approve of such vulgarity!"
"Vulva. You mean vulva. Think of it as rooms. The uterus is the main room, the vagina is the hallway and the vulva is the front porch and doorway. All of the area outside of the body is the vulva. The mons pubis, the labia, the clitoris..."
"That is ENOUGH! The dinner table is no place for such dirty talk."
"You are the one who brought up vaginas. I am just correcting you. You mean vulva. And the hats were neither one."
Her uncle's face was a bright shade of red that was making her aunt think about blood pressure medicine. "You are correcting me? I know what I saw on TV. They were wearing vagina hats and saying horrific things about OUR, yes OUR, yours too young lady, OUR president."
"They were pink pussy hats. Like cat ears. It was a play on words. Words the man you voted for who is, yes, all of our president, said."
"Don't use that word at this table."
"Don't use the word pussy? To describe cat ears? You are offended by that but not by the President saying he could grab them, meaning vulvas?"
"I saw on the news. Just like giant vaginas."
"Vulvas. And you might have seen a few people in costumes. There were a couple of those. But the hats were cat ears. Thousands and thousands of cat ears. A lot of pink but some beige and some tan and some black, as many colors of yarn and as many colors of women there were hats. But a sea of pussy hats."
"Cry babies, that's all. Couldn't accept the win and so they cried."
"No, Uncle Bobby, they marched. They let the current administration know that they weren't going to be silent. They weren't going to roll over and play dead for the next four years."
"You didn't see people marching when Obozo was elected!"
"You mean when Obama was OUR president, yes even yours, OUR president? And you showed him the deep respect you think Trump deserves? No, there weren't thousands of people marching in the street worried about their basic human rights being taken away. What you did see is an uptick in the sales of guns as the NRA convinced you he was going to take them away. And you did see the Tea Party rise. And you did see his very Americanness questioned."
"Yes, it was nonsense. But it happened. And now you are living the other side of the coin."
"It was vulgar. And now they don't want to accept how great the country is going. Jobs, the stock market, foreign policy. It's all better."
"Jobs have been going up for the last 6 1/2 years..."
"No! You don't get to say that this isn't Trump. Just like when Obummer took office and you tried to blame the crash on Bush, you don't get to give him credit for the recovery!"
"Do you think that when a president takes office they get a clean slate? Like everything that happened before doesn't count? Of course the crash started under Bush. The roots of it could be found as far back as Reagan and it was exacerbated by things Clinton did."
"The deficit ballooned under Barry!"
"Bush kept the two wars we were fighting off the books. Obama brought them in to account. You don't get to go to war for free. People needed to see the cost. Not that it mattered. You still want more war."
"We used to be respected! Barack Hussein Obama made us the laughing stock of the world!"
"That's not true either. He was well respected by other foreign leaders..."
"The ones that liked him only liked him because they could take advantage of him!"
"That's not true either. He was respected because he was a deep thinker and believed in diplomacy."
"Diplomacy! You mean showing your belly!"
"It's a different view. You believe in ruling by fear. Your man in the office spouts that as well. Though he is easily swayed by flattery and manipulated by insults. Twittier in Chief. Making up foreign policy on the fly. Casting insults via speeches and twitter then saying nice things face to face."
"He keeps them on their guard! Being too predictable is a bad thing. This way they never know what is coming. It's a good policy. Better than announcing everything we are going to do ahead of time and letting the enemy get the jump on us."
"Keeping people off balance isn't a great thing to do when you are talking about starting a nuclear war."
"Nobody is talking about nuclear war!"
"He did. He said he wasn't sure why we didn't use our nukes more often."
"Fake news! They press just manipulates things to make him look bad!"
"He said it, I watched the interview. The words came out of his mouth. How is the press manipulating him to say things with his own mouth?"
"You believe that?"
"He said it was true so of course I do. Why would he lie?"
"Because he lies about everything."
"Hellary would have been worse in the White House."
"We will never know. I don't think she would have been but she didn't win..."
"She didn't! You should keep that in mind! Most Americans didn't want her!"
"Again, not technically right. Most Americans who voted did want her but..."
"Doesn't matter! That's not the way the system works!"
"I know that. But you can't give him the majority when he didn't get it. He still won. But he didn't get the most votes."
Her cousin spoke up, "You claim to be a feminist and yet you would have voted for Hillary. She was horrible to the women Bill abused."
She turned and smiled at her cousin. "Remember Lisa Shenkle?"
"What? That was high school, what does that have to do with anything?"
"Lisa Shenkle is a Slut Faced Whore."
"Young Lady!" her uncle roared.
Her cousin looked down at her plate.
"That was a long time ago."
"Sandra told you that Lisa and James were making out. You confronted James and he told you it never happened. That Lisa was trying to steal him away from you and she was spreading the rumor to make him look bad. Who did you believe?"
"I was DATING James."
"And she is MARRIED to Bill."
"You believed James when you really knew Sandra was right. But you destroyed Lisa's reputation. People took sides and since you were popular, they sided with you."
"That's not at all the same thing."
"Isn't it? You were only dating James and you didn't believe Lisa first. That's what you are trying to say Hillary should have done. Believe the women who said that her husband was cheating on her with them, and then believe the woman who said he raped her. You expect her to be something that most of us would not be."
"What about you though? YOU should have believed the women."
"I will never vote for Bill Clinton. Ever. But I also will not hold Hillary or if her time comes Chelsea responsible for his shit. Pardon my language, Mom."
"But you voted for him in the 90s."
"I did. I did a lot of things in the 90s I wouldn't do now. But I believe that he wouldn't be electable now. People's attitudes have changed. Or at least half the country's attitudes have changed. Some seem to think that locker room talk is about sexual assault and electing a child molester is better than a Democrat."
She heard her aunt gasp. Well there is was.
"Uncle Bobby, really? Did you just hear yourself? You just said that a child molester is better than a Democrat."
"Roy Moore has denied the charges, that's what I mean. He's better than the other guy because he will be a solid conservative voice and a vote."
"No, you agreed that better a child molester than a Democrat and you call me vulgar."
"You are being vulgar. With the sex talk and the disparaging of our president. You're just a special snowflake who..."
"I think we need to change the subject! How about dessert?" Her mother was trying to bring things back around.
She looked at her watch, "I really need to take off. I want to make sure I get to the airport on time. Thank you for dinner, it was lovely. Thank you for the conversation, it was entertaining. I love you all. Happy Thanksgiving."
With that she left the table and grabbed her coat out of the hall closet. Reaching in to her pocket she pulled out her pink knit cap. That day had been the first good day after a lot of bad ones. The first day she felt like she was walking on the right path again. The hopeful one. And it was also the day she promised to never keep silent again. Even if it meant she would have to skip dessert to keep the family peace.
Her mother met her in the hallway and gave her a hug. She whispered in her ear, "I voted for Hillary."
She sighed and smiled at her. "I'll text when I land."