As improvisors, the coin of uncertainty is the very currency in which we trade.
Sexual assaults are a major problem. They’re underreported, perpetrators rarely face consequences, and the surrounding culture infiltrates everything from power systems to justice systems. So when I found out that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I knew what I had to do: I simply had to tell people!
Weirdly, no one I told believed me. Or even listened. People like…
Jeremy is a really cool guy. He listens to Ani DiFranco and always posts articles about toxic masculinity. He even once told me that he would rather spend an evening with Margaret Atwood than Margot Robbie. I figured Jeremy would be the perfect person to tell. But when I told Jeremy that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, he just laughed at me. “You’re being overdramatic,” Jeremy said as he slipped on his The Future is Female sweatshirt. “It’s just April! You’re totally being crazy. Wanna make out?”
Even though Sandra votes conservative and has the same haircut Tony Danza had when he was on Who’s the Boss?, I really respect her. I was happy to be able to tell a fellow woman that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month after my awful experience with Jeremy. Only when I sat Sandra down in her office and shared my news about April, she had an even worse reaction. “It’s not really Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” Sandra said in a low voice. “Were you drinking when you came up with this idea? What were you wearing? It’s really not an official month if you’re liquored up and not in a business suit at an official meeting…” I tried to tell Sandra that it wasn’t even my idea, but she slipped into murmurings about modesty and Tequila Rose.
The dean of my college
Dr. Wells is accomplished, well-respected and keeps a photo from his daughter’s law school graduation on his desk, so you know he cares about young women. His intelligence shows, too. When I sat down and told him that April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, he didn’t look surprised at all! I was so relieved that someone might finally believe me…until he smiled uneasily and leaned back in his wingback chair. “Now, while this may be true,” Dr. Wells said, “April is such a good month. It’s a really strong month with a promising future. Everyone loves it. It’s the start of spring, for chrissakes! Let’s not let something like the rumor it’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month ruin that, shall we?”
The local chief of police
I don’t really know Chief Hunt, but he seems great at his job. He’s always on TV talking about immigration, plus he and his wife attend church every Sunday. I figured that even if no one else believed or listened to me, he would have to, right? “Now, we could put in an official request to make April Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” he said to me, looking through his bifocals to the screen of his phone as he carefully typed each letter with one finger, a text to his wife. “But I’m going to be honest with you. We put in the request, it goes through the official system, it’s about three years down the line, you would have to come back and testify for god knows how long and lookit.” He made eye contact with me for the first time. “You’re not going to come out on top. It takes more to convince a judge that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month than someone just sayin’ it. Now, you’re young. Do you know what the upside down smiley face means?”
A conservative cable news anchor
Bill O’Reilly is basically a sentient pair of smug jowls who has built a career on talking louder than everyone else. But I figured that even if the police didn’t listen to me, the media still might! When I got the chance to sit down with Bill (and as his keeper removed his muzzle), I started to tell him that April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I got distracted for a moment (I thought I heard the sound of Megyn Kelly lecturing someone on the race of the Easter Bunny, but it was just the garbage disposal), and when I turned back, Bill was gone! He completely disappeared! Super weird.
As it turns out, it’s a lot harder to tell people that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month than one might think. But I’m not finished spreading the word, and I won’t stop talking until everyone knows.
Martha Stortz is a writer and improviser living in Toronto. She is trained in improv and sketch writing through The Second City Training Center Conservatory and Longform programs and performs regularly with her longform troupe Orson Whales. Follow her on Twitter at @marthamks.