We parked on Queen Street and Joe and Mike ran into a hole in the wall restaurant to order vegetarian Chinese food. Mike had been going on about this place for a while. We'd dropped by to visit with baby Ruby so we had him bring us here afterwards so we could pick up food for dinner when we got home. The place wasn't accessible so I waited in the car and watched the street go by. This was a section of Queen Street that was home to many of the cool and the young. While I've been young, I've never been cool so I watched them in strange fascination.
They were, to a one, pierced and tattooed and otherwise adorned with emblems of outsider status. One woman, no kidding, had blue dots either painted or tattooed on the backs of her legs. The dots were about the sice of a donut hole and started at her ankle and, with an inch between each, went up past her very short skirt. One fellow went by with his earlobes so stretched that you could have driven a limo through them. Another guy was shirtless in the summer heat and he wore a woman's earring through his right nipple. All had adopted that world weary, I've seen it all and every bit of it bored me, look.
Then, round the corner, comes a woman of the same age. She is using a walker, one of those cool kinds that - turn it around and you can sit down. As she approaches I notice that she's quite pretty. Her gait is odd, but she is steadied by the walker and makes quite good time coming up towards me. She like the others has a tattoo, hers is on her neck. When she gets close I see that she's tattooed the wheelchair blue badge guy on her neck. "Now that," I thought, "is cool" and immediately decided to get one myself.
But something happened on the streetfront. Even though she was beautiful, and clearly had both a sense of humour and a sense of purpose, she walked through people who did everything they could to not look at her. Not embrace her with their eyes. I guess this was too much difference.
Why is it that, often, people who affect difference really can't tolerate it? Those who are the 'decorated ordinary,' the 'mutilated mundane,' the 'unextraordinary ordinary' who do everything to stand out with a crowd, only end up being part of one? They like difference - only they like the same difference, the pretend one. I guess to them 'outsider' really meant 'insider'.
It seemed to bother only me because she made her way up the street with the casualness of one who is used to stares. Then I heard a shout from across the street and a young man, with a faux hawk, waved a heavily tattooed arm and made the 'wait there' sign. She stopped, gripped her walker with one hand and raised the other. When there was a break in traffic he ran across the street and swept her up in his arms and they kissed. There should have been movie music.
He linked his arm in hers, she took the walker in her hands and they walked out of my view. But before they disappeared I saw the look on her face as she looked at him, adoration. I heard them laugh together. Then they were gone.
It's amazing, isn't it, how the love of one good person ...
... can erase the indignities of walking the gauntlet of everyday bigotry.
Oh, and only because it matters to me, the food was very very good.