February 23, 2006
Expressions of Love, Part One: When a Man Loves a Woman (and Her Scarf)
The other day
No... First I have to tell you something, so you understand this anecdote.
I get really freaked out when people stare at me. Probably because I'm a little insecure. Partially, I'm sure, because I grew up in a subculture where staring is considered not just rude, but an invitation to a fist fight. Maybe, partially, because I inherited part of my mom's extreme tendency in this regard. As I've mentioned before, she's paranoid schizophrenic. So, who knows, maybe hearing her say stuff like, "That man keeps staring at us. I think he wants to kill us!" affected my young psyche just a little, before she went to live somewhere else. Who knows?
The point is, I dislike it when strangers stare. A lot. But I've been trying to get over it. My boyfriend helps, with his good example, logical guidance, and willingness to be my boyfriend despite my flaws.
The other day he and I were at Bed Bath & Bourgeousie. I didn't want to be there in the first place, but there we were, and it was very cold for Houston that day (39 F), and I had on my warmest coat (black suede trench) and a scarf made of balls of brown rabbit fur that match my hair. (It was a gift. (A very warm gift.))
So we walk in and, right off the bat, these three baseball-cap-wearing-type men in their forties start with the looking. One of them in particular let his looking become a full-blown stare.
I said nothing, but I had to think up all the possible reasons he might be staring. Because I must do that. That is my nature. Here are the possible reasons I came up with:
1. Interracial relationship. People gotta stare. Some people have never seen or even imagined a Caucasian woman with an Asian man before. 2. He thought I was ugly. 3. He thought I was pretty. 4. He thought I looked like somebody he knew. 5. He thought I was overdressed for the weather. Some people can take the cold. Some people can't. He obviously could, but maybe he'd never before seen a person who couldn't. 6. Maybe...
I couldn't take it anymore. "That guy stared at me," I said to Tad.
"Probably because he thinks you're hot," said Tad.
"No. It wasn't like that."
"Probably the interracial thing."
We didn't find what we were looking for, so we turned to leave. The baseball cap men were still there.
"They're gonna stare at me again," I whispered. For some reason, it bugged me a lot. I'm okay now with old ladies and little kids staring, but something about getting stared at by three tall, smile-less men in baseball caps who have nothing better to do than stare at strangers at Bed Bath & Beyond? Unnerving. I glanced at them with my peripheral vision, ready to spin and yell, "What the hell you lookin' at, ese?" while pulling out my imaginary knife, if need be.
As we neared the gauntlet, Tad put his arm around me. The men were arranged so that we had to walk right through them.
As we walked through, Tad held up his left hand, like a bodyguard, and said loudly, "Nobody look at her. Nobody look at her, please!" And then of course they must have looked. Because I must've been a celebrity, in town for the All Star Game, right?
By the time we got to the parking lot, I was laughing my ass off. In the car, I laughed until I coughed, then realized: "I think he was staring at my scarf, actually. Trying to figure out if it was real fur."
Tad, who is a very good mimic, launched into an exact imitation of a Texas redneck. "Yeah. He was like, 'God DAMN. If that was my woman, I'd hunt enough to put a different dead animal around her neck every day.'"
I giggled. I wish you could have seen him, with that voice coming out of his mouth.
Tad went on. "Shit. I'd make that girl a deerskin bikini."
And from now on, when people stare, I'll imagine that's what they're thinking. Some people just want to show you love with dead animals.
And some people show you love by being silly in order to make you feel better. And if that, in turn, shows you how silly you've been, then it's okay, because it's done with love.
Expressions of Love, Part Two: Chicken Soup for the MMORPG Soul
The other day I was playing World of Warcraft (or World of War-crack, as I've heard it called). In that world, I'm a blue-haired Night Elf in leather armor, who kills monsters with a quarter staff and magic spells.
So I'm there, and I'm killing the monsters. Because that's what they pay me to do. And then, as I near the town to collect payment, I notice that my mail icon is on. "You've got mail, pre-industrial druid!"
I go to the mail box and pick up a package. It's from a stranger - someone named TerrorKnight or BloodTerror or something like that. With the package, there's a letter. The letter says:
I'm learning to cook. This will give you extra stamina. - Josh..
Josh is my son. I open the package. It contains five herbed, baked eggs.
Now, whenever I think of my children, I see the icon of a World of Warcraft herbed, baked egg in my mind, with its properties listed underneath. And thus, it has become an icon for the love we share.
Sometimes I mail them gold, if I have extra. My character can't cook yet. But whenever I can, I skin monsters and use their hides to make my children special, enchanted armor. When they get the packages, the game shows the sender as Night Elf Xora.
But I always sign the letters "Love, Mom."