I took another ride on the valarian train.
This time, my preschool-aged son inherited my wife’s hair color and we became second-class citizens at the sandwich shop.
Me: Lunchtime, son.
Boy: Baaaaaanh miiiiiiii!
The lady behind the counter, who already detests me for speaking English and never having exact change, fixed a cold glare upon my chestnut-topped boy as he poked around the rice desserts. Her eyes met mine, and her furrowed squint said what her mouth wanted to: “You sellout. How dare you contaminate this establishment with that spawn. I hope all the bad things in life happen to you and only you. You are a disgrace to your people, your family and yourself. Your son doesn’t ‘pass,’ He belongs to the Americans now. Go buy a hamburger.”
I paid and she handed my son a plastic bag of sandwiches.“Baaaaanh miiiiiii!” he exclaimed while reaching up for the grub with the kind of glee reserved for devout Catholics receiving the body of Christ. He tottered around the parking lot, hugging the bag like it contained plutonium, periodically dunking his head inside to get a whiff of pork belly goodness.
It was a long walk to the car, and the sun exaggerated the lightness of his follicles. The Jennys, Christines and Kellys shook their heads in disapproval. A grandma wearing a coolie hat scoffed at the boy and nudged him aside with a shopping cart from the Golden Kim Lan Thanh Huong Dragon 99 Market.
Son: (stops walking, puts down bag and looks down) They’re mean to me because of my hair.
Me: Your hair is very nice, just like your mom’s. Sometimes people are mean to others who are different. That is not ok. There is nothing wrong with you. Even if everybody is mean to you, be happy with who you are.
Son: (nodding) Ok.
Me: Imagine if the zoo only had elephants. Boring zoo, huh? The zoo is better with elephants, monkeys, turtles, and other animals.
Son: And crrrrrocodiles!
Me: That’s right. They are all different, but they are all good. (crouches) It’s okay to be different. Whenever people make you feel bad for being different, you talk to me, ok?
Son: Ok daddy.
Me: This world will be your friend, son. Come on, pick up the bag, you can do it. Now let’s find the car so we can go home and eat.
Son: Baaaaanh miiiiiii!
We turned a corner and saw a visored Asian lady in an old-school Dodge Caravan backing into our car. Repeatedly.
Me: What the…
Son: Learn to drive, twat! (throws sandwiches)
That’s my boy.