Last night, my wife and I took my eldest daughter and some of her friends out for her birthday. We went to a movie and afterwards, we all walked over to Cold Stone for ice cream.
I get uncomfortable going there at times when I know it will be packed with teenagers – especially girls. Friday evenings are not a good time in this respect. And we have discussed before how teenage girls seem to be able pick us out no matter what. Last night was no exception.
We got on line – my daughter, her friends and I – behind a pack of about six or eight girls, all probably about fifteen or sixteen years old. After a few minutes, I see one of the pack look over at me, turn to a friend, say something and giggle. Almost immediately, the friend turns around, looks at me, turns back to the first girl and starts whispering to her – at which point they both turn towards me, then back to each other and giggle some more.
They now turn to a third in their pack who, having no shame whatsoever, is on her tippy toes to get a better look at me. I opt to meet her stare head on – which seems to have little impact on her. And so on down the line this went for what must have been a solid five minutes – each in their own not so discreet way shuffling around to get a better look. To make it more interesting, there were a couple of guys with them who also made it a point to ‘get a look’ at me as well.
It doesn’t happen often, but this was one time when I simply wanted to run and hide – or better, to just die and be done with it. Were I not there with my daughter and her friends, I likely would have turned around and left rather that stand there and be an object of amusement for others.
Perhaps I ought to take comfort in the knowledge that I can bring so much joy into the lives of so many by just being myself… 😦
By all accounts, I was presenting quite unremarkably: Jeans and sneakers, my favorite Mercenary Audio t-shirt and a jean jacket. If there was anything I wasn’t trying to do, it was be a ‘gender outlaw’. However the glances and gestures from the girls spoke otherwise. Between my hair, earrings, glasses and whatever else they were putting together, I was radiating ‘gender deviant’ in a big way. I might as well have had FREAK emblazoned on forehead – it wouldn’t have made a difference at that point.
Thankfully, my daughter and her friends were oblivious to this whole little display. My wife, who had been sitting and holding some tables for us, managed to miss this as well – much to my relief.
The gaggle left, we got our ice cream, sat down – as if nothing had happened: except something did happen. Like a bound Prometheus these girls managed to pick away what little self esteem I have…
…And while it will recover (as it must,) the loss thereof is nonetheless painful.