Like a goddamn lunatic, I wave to her from the front door of my fast food place of employment, which usually gets her smiling, laughing, waving back, usually calling me over for a brief conversation. This is Mandy, wife of frequent third-shift manager Steve, and she’s just hanging out in her car. She isn’t smiling or laughing now, though, and I take a few steps towards her driver side window. I still can’t make her out, so I step closer.
I walk up to the window and see her red, wet and puffy face. Fuck. I apologized for my goofy antics and asked her what was wrong.
It was her daughter again, Dani. A slender, attractive redhead with bipolar disorder who is pregnant and, with her boyfriend and daddy of the baby-to-be, is involved with a church that sounds increasingly extreme and frighteningly cultish. Constantly she threatens to not let them see the child once born, calls them bad parents, constantly makes references to “the mark of the beast” and the coming end of days.
As she spills to me, Steve comes out, evidently on break, and sits in the car beside her. She continues spilling to me, which I feel makes Steve pushed off to the side, so I artfully drag him into the conversation. I feel it goes well in that respect, but she is still spilling to me when he goes back from break.
My cigarette is long since out, so I work towards an exit in talking to her, but she stops me in a calm yet frantic sort of way. Whatever this is, she considers it highly secretive. She tells me she wants me to read something. It’s an incredibly long text from her son, Derek, explaining how he wants to be a girl, that he wants her to help him get his nails done and get a dress.
She spoke with him. Evidently he was watching YouTube and discovered other people had a similar impulse. She asked him if he knew what “gay” means, and he said he did, but that he liked girls.
She cries as she is telling me all this and I ask her why, why she’s so upset. Why she’s upset at all. This is her son and evidently he trusted her enough to be open and honest with her. Don’t make him feel guilt or shame over this; it’s just who he is. She kept crying, evidently feeling guilty because she thought it was something she did.
It drives me crazy what others seem to take to be a big fucking deal. Dani is bisexual and she was upset over that as well. She dated a black man and that somehow became an issue. I don’t detest the woman by any measure, but I can’t help but confess she disappoints me. That’s why I laugh when we humans consider ourselves an advanced species; that’s why I have to keep reminding myself I live in the 21st century and not the goddamn dark ages.
Who cares? It’s who he is; let him embrace it. I’m as white and heterosexual as she is and I have no desire to wear clothing of the opposite sex but I don’t see it mandatory that people live as I do. I think diversity is beautiful. I cherish the fact that we are all not the same inside. This is just insipid xenophobia — the kind that so many religions support and feed. Though she is perhaps a decade my senior, I find myself wishing she’d open her heart and grow up. There are actual problems in this world. Can we stop bickering over the petty shit and letting it fucking divide us?