Friday, June 29, 2007

Mango Loafers

Yesterday, Ben, Zachary and I went to pick up my car. It was in Wellesley.

Wellesley, to someone who isn’t from Boston, is a place where a great deal of the people look frozen in the Preppie Handbook. Not the yuppie one, but the preppie one. A lot of shoes without socks and pants with whales on them. It’s a very wealthy, very white community.

Thus the Volvo dealership.

As we waited to pull our car into the tunnel for service, a woman in the car ahead of us stepped out. While I do not believe it is fair or right to make fun of the clothes people are wearing, this particular outfit stuck out to me because the color of her shoes.

Mango. She had on mango loafers.

In a fit of madness last summer, my friend Louise- yes, Louise, I am using your first name- bought a pair of mango loafers. I have not let her live this down since.

I saw the loafers and matching cardigan tied over her shoulder the way one would tie a sweater over your shoulder if you were in fact wearing mango loafers. I had to call Louise.

I described the outfit to her and suggested that she, too, needed a matching sweater in order to pull the shoes off.

I tried to be quiet but of course the boys heard me in the back seat, although they were poking each other.

Ben looked out and said, I think she’s straight…

Oh, yeah, Zachary added.

I realized, after I got off the phone with a hysterically laughing Louise, that it was the first time I heard my kids identify someone as “straight.”

And clearly by what they were wearing.

But that’s Ben. He is very keyed into fashion.

I know I have identified people at different times by their sexual orientation. If we are going to a party for the gay and lesbian parents group, I tell them that. They often asked before going to an event if it’s a gay one or not.

I remember seeing an interview with a teenage kid of lesbian parents and when asked what the hardest part of growing up was, he said, “Meetings. All the meetings we go to.” I often imagine my kids will say, “Processing. If I have to process one more feeling I’m gonna scream.”

It was curious to me, though, why Ben identified her by her orientation. Is it his own growing awareness? Is he trying to be more ‘adult’ and talk like his parents do? Does he have a sense of ‘gaydar’ already?

Or maybe just a random shout from the backseat because it’s language he’s familiar with.

I don’t know and the moment to … uh… process it was lost.

Unfortunately for Ben, he’s stuck with me all weekend. Jeanine is off with Jake, Walter with Zachary, and Ben and I are together.

Like it or not, he’s going to get a chance to talk about it with me. My guess is that it’s a little of everything.

Maybe I should borrow Louise’s mango loafers…


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