Joe Campbell

Bimsom was so splendidly attired that at first glance Molder failed to recognize him. The designer duds, gold chain, silver tiepin and diamond studded ring looked as out of place on Bimsom as a diaper on a dog. “You’re going to a masquerade party,” Molder said, when he realized that the apparition was indeed his old friend.

“I’m going to a fat-cat walk,” Bimsom said. “The fat cats are walking in protest through the sleaziest parts of town.”

“You’re not a fat cat,” Molder replied. “Your finances are as limited as mine.”

“True,” he said, ”the designer labels and jewelry are fake. So is the wad of bills I’ll be flashing. But I want to walk in solidarity with the fat cats. They’re offended because a tour director told them to avoid flaunting their wealth. She said they could provoke the envious to assault and rob them.”

“It sounds like good advice to me,” Molder said. “Especially at night, fat cats who expose their valuables can attract the attention of unsavoury characters.”

“That’s what we’re protesting against,” Bimsom said. “We want to take back the night and reclaim all parts of the city, night or day.”

“You can protest all you like,” Molder said, “but if you give would-be assailants the opportunity, your imprudence could tempt them to take your cash, designer duds and jewelry.”

“I’d gladly give them the fake cash, duds, chain and tiepin,” Bimsom said. “But they’d never take the ring from my finger. It’s stuck there.”

“Then they’d take the finger.”

“Oh my,” Bimsom said. “I wouldn’t want to give them the finger.”

“That, my friend, is what you do when you taunt them with gratuitous displays of conspicuous wealth.”

“The envious demean the rich when they see them as prey,” Bimsom said. “They turn them into wealth objects.”

“I agree,” Molder said, “but when the rich flaunt their treasure, they turn themselves into wealth objects.”

“You’re just like the tour director,” Bimsom said. “You blame the victims. You shame the rich for expressing their affluence.”

“For expressing it inappropriately,” Molder replied.

As Bimsom was not to be dissuaded, Molder decided to tag along and keep a protective eye on his friend. “You can go as a supporter,” Bimsom said. “They’re issuing ‘I Love Fat Cat’ T-shirts.”

They arrived in time to hear the end of an interview one of the protesters was giving to a TV reporter.

“We want to rehabilitate the label Fat Cat,” he was saying. “It has taken on a derogatory connotation that attributes ostentatious behaviour to the rich and holds them responsible when they are victimized. Our simple message is that robbery is an act of violence by the perpetrators. It is never inspired or occasioned by the victims, no matter what they wear or how they behave.”

“I wonder,” Molder said, “whether he also excuses hikers who frolic in the habitats of man eating mammals and poisonous snakes.” But Bimsom was talking to another protester and didn’t reply.

The protest reminded Molder of slutwalks, in which participants claim the right to flaunt their sexuality whenever and wherever they choose. He hadn’t attended any, but he had heard that one of the objectives is to take ownership of the word slut. He had also heard that some of the participants parade in their lingerie, a few wearing little more than a grin or a pout. “Just as fat cats turn themselves into wealth objects,” Molder said, “sluts turn themselves into sex objects. But both complain when others objectify them.”

“The situations are altogether different,” Bimsom said.

“Of course they are,” said Molder. “Fat cats risk provoking the envious to rob, while sluts risk provoking the lustful to rape.”

An organizer of the protest interrupted the festivities to announce that the tour director who provoked the fat-cat walk had made an abject apology.

“Her superiors wrung it out of her and she faces disciplinary action,” the organizer shouted above the cheering protesters.

“I call that progress,” Bimsom said.

“I prefer to call it change,” Molder replied.

“Whatever you call it,” said Bimsom, “it sounds like we’ve won.”

“Indeed it does,” said Molder, “if winning means silencing anyone who would warn you about a clear and present danger.”