September 08, 2006

Black candy.

Oy. I've been living in NYC for just over 10 years now, and every once in a while, something happens to remind me just why that is. Strike that - I generally remember why I live here, but rather it's the occasional poke to the sternum 'bout why I don't live anywhere else.

Case in point - this past weekend, Douglas and I were upstate, plundering a Tuesday Morning in a Schenectady strip mall for swank closeout napkins and potential reception table centerpieces (and yes - we TOTALLY scored). Douglas was off in another aisle fondling linens, and I was engrossed in vase and candelabra inspection when suddenly I could just sense that I was being monitored. I looked over, and sure enough, a girl of about 5 or 6 had an unnervingly nasty glare fixed upon me from the basket of her mother's shopping cart. I force-smiled at her and returned to my task, but moments later...

"Mommy? Mommy, is that that lady..."

I knew where this was going. It was far from the first time. It probably won't be the last time. But it NEVER happens at home in the city.

(loudly) "Mommy? Is that lady already ready for Halloween?"

Welcome to my adolescence. Mind you, I was not wearing anything in any combination that I haven't worn to work, out with friends, on errands, on any given calendar day. My shoes were pointy, my skirt red, and my shirt black. I have tattoos, but none of the larger, more colorful ones were exposed. My dark hair was in a simple ponytail. I looked like 34-year-old me, but I was transformed instantly to my 17-year-old Gothed-up, tortured-souled self, sticking out like a sore batwing, desperate and rabid to leave the small Kentucky town where bored boys with weak moustache efforts yelled "FREAK!" out of their truck windows at me.

Yes, I know she was five. Yes, I know it's not that big a deal. But consider how it feels to spend the first eighteen years of your life being made to believe that you have to apologize for yourself. I didn't ask or try to be out of the mainstream. I just am and have always been, and am lucky to now be surrounded by people who love and celebrate me because of who I am, rather than those who make sure I know how magnanimous they're being by loving me despite my perceived quirks and strangeness. There's a world of perceptual difference between the two. And I'm also damned grateful for who just simply hold their tongues, rather than feeling the need to let me know that they are passing non-silent judgment upon me - especially while I'm prepping for likely the most paradigm-embracing thing I'm ever gonna do.

She's five, but it starts somewhere. I smiled toothily, and in a voice oozing like pure high-fructose corn syrup informed L'il Miss that, "For some of us, every day is Halloween. Some of us like it so much, we celebrate it all year round." Mumsie nodded at me in silent thanks for not springing forth and ritually draining the lifeblood from her offspring, then botched it all with, "Honey? Remember how I told you that some people have different skin colors, or are from a different place, or have funny genes so they're not quite like us? Some people dress differently, too."

So wearing pointy shoes is like being Asian or French, or possibly having a birth defect. Great. Maybe I can start a foundation or offer a scholarship. Perhaps even get my own holiday parade.

My explanation would have gone something like, "You know how most little girls want to grow up to be all fancy like Cinderella or Snow White? Well, sometimes, there are little girls who grow up wondering where the Wicked Queen buys her shoes and gloves..."

They don't make wedding mags for us. Maybe I oughta start one: "Weird Bride". It'll sell dozens of copies.

Posted by Kat at September 8, 2006 03:03 PM