I sat there, in the middle of it all, because I wanted to write, ignoring the hustle and bustle that every mall suffers during the weekend. Yet, I was distracted by the piercing look of a kid, about ten years old, full of the child wonderment that erodes with experience and answered questions. If his stare distracted me, then it was his pointing in my direction that earned my attention.
“Mom, what is that?”
The woman, not many years my senior, looked at me just like her child, but what in his eyes shined of awe, in hers burned of judgments as she studying my person from afar. I feigned to write in order to listen more carefully, hidden behind the leather of my notebook.
“That is a gay, sweetheart.”
Oh, how mistaken she was, with all of her Southern charm, drawl, and bias.
“No, what is that?” The boy kept pointing in my direction, demanding that a part of the world be revealed to him.
“That’s a man who loves many other men, that’s why he’s clean and dressed up like me, and not scruffy like your dad. OK?” The woman clearly did not want to explain anything further.
What a has the world come to when simply not looking like a hobo means automatically that a man is gay? With that logic, Frank Sinatra must have sucked so many–
I looked again, intrigued and wanting to confirm if the kid’s expression matched the disappointment and frustration in his voice at that point. He caught me looking his way, and we exchanged a weak grin. We both knew he was pointing at my funny-looking, purse-like messenger bag all along–about which he would keep asking himself what it was. He had kept that much innocence that day.
At least his mother, in her well-intended error, had dispensed a tiny lesson to her kid about some hopeful tolerance.