Josie, 7, reflexively coiled a little closer and said, “Look out. Here comes a weirdo.”
I came to a complete stop and knelt down while simultaneously mounting my parental pedestal.
“Listen, just because he looks different doesn’t mean he’s a weirdo,” I said in a firm whisper. “We don’t judge people by how they look. We judge them by what’s in here.”
I bullseyed my finger right at her heart.
She looked confused. “You mean boobs? We judge people by their boobs?”
Sigh. Another sad misfire in my attempts at skillful fathering.
Alas, I do judge people by their boobs. But it’s not like it was when I was in junior high school and comely Ms. Gilliam, the voluptuous phys. ed. teacher, launched us eighth grade boys into puberty by demonstrating basic trampoline technique.
She had a natural beauty that still shimmers in my memory. I can close my eyes and see her bouncing, bouncing, bouncing on that trampoline. Her long, feathered brunette hair flying like a maestro’s arms conducting a magnificent symphony. Her firm athletic legs like springs as they deftly kept elevating ever upward.
“It’s easy, see?” she said. “Let your weight do the work and the rest of the motions’ll just come natural. It’s fun!”
I still think about her and those innocent times and I wonder what me and the boys would do if she showed up on some trampoline time machine, still perfectly proportioned, still beckoning with a dewey sexuality and an invitation to join her for a playful jump.
I know what I’d do.
I’d turn to the guy next to me and ask, “You think those are fake?”
I’m growing nostalgic for the days when guys like me used to spend a lot of idle time wondering if professional wrestling was fake.
Now, if a truly beautiful woman walks into my local bar the first thing we do is speculate about the authenticity of her womanly features (the second thing we speculate about is why on earth would she come to a place like this to drink with guys like us).
I wish I was less superficial. I wish I could accept that some women feel, perhaps because of societal notions imposed by men, the need to enhance their breasts. I wish it didn’t bother me that someday probably in, oh, about a year or so, I’ll have to tell my precious daughter that she’s beautiful just the way she is and, no, she shouldn’t bother asking Santa if he can bring her some bigger boobs.
I think about all this as the man my daughter instinctually labels a “weirdo” approaches. I want to try again to tell her that character is what matters and that looks are unimportant
Instead, I pick her up in my arms and dash across the street to avoid the guy.
Weirdo or not, he’s at the very least a real boob for dressing like that in a small western Pennsylvania town with little tolerance for non-conformists.
And Ms. Gilliam aside, I’ve always in my heart been more of an ass man.