Stumbling into the Twilight Zone at the Home and Patio Show

John Howard shares the tale of inadvertently walking into a different dimension during a recent family outing to a home and patio show.

[A]s my wife was talking to a guy in one booth about lawn care, the pest control guy in the next booth sees my son in his stroller and gives him a keychain, which was nice. He then tells my son something about how every man should have a keychain in his pocket. A little odd, I thought, but whatever. But then, using that as some bizarre segue relating to perceived manly behaviors (I guess?) he starts into a little anecdote, which I'm still not too clear on because I really couldn't believe that he was saying what I thought he was saying. Anyway, he says something about going into neighborhoods to get kids to go to Sunday school, and how he saw a young boy walking, and I forget how he put it, but the point was the kid wasn't walking like a man. So, he apparently told this kid something to the effect that woman walk with movement in their hips and wrists, but men walk with movement from their shoulders and arms (?), and that this kid needed to walk differently, so people "wouldn't get the wrong idea."

…I really didn't know what to say, I really thought I must have missed some part of what he said that would make it seem less insane, so I just walked on to the next booth, while my wife confirmed that what I heard was accurate. …We could use pest control too, and my wife was going to ask him about it, until he told his little anecdote. I wish the story had ended with the kid telling him that it wouldn't be the wrong idea, or just telling him to fuck off and mind his own business.
It's always interesting living in a conservative area and being part of a straight, white couple who doesn't hate gay people, or people of color, or, you know, liberals. It never ceases to amaze how willingly people who assume you're just like them will put their bigotry on public display. Mr. Shakes and I are regularly assumed to be Christian, Bush-loving bigots who just can't wait to make babies, instead of the godless, deliberately childless, progressive traitors we actually are. Even his Scottish accent, tagging him as being one of those nasty Yur-oh-pee-ans, doesn't seem to cause pause, although that might be because, as we've learned from various comments, people think he's from Texas and that Scotland is part of America.

John notes:

If we can't get to the point in my lifetime where everyone is tolerant and understanding of people who are not like them (and I really think we can, or at least pretty close), I'd at least settle for getting close enough where people like this feel too ashamed of their idiotic beliefs to feel comfortable expressing them openly to strangers.
I'm not sure that people who espouse views like the one he encountered actually believe that there are straight, white couples who aren't like them—maybe because they've never met any who weren't. I've too often been the target of a familiarity that suggests such people view the world with an us-against-them mentality, with straight, white Christians being the "us" and everyone else the "them," to believe otherwise. It's always a decidedly uncomfortable situation to be in, although I never tire of the look of surprise I receive when brutally quashing their delusions of kinship with a well-placed, "Yeah, you know what? I'm not homophobic," or "I'm afraid you've mistaken me for a racist."

Stutter stutter stammer.

Get stuffed, losers.

(Crossposted at AlterNet PEEK.)

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