My friends, Rob and Satomi, have a beautiful baby boy, Kai. Rob is Jewish and Satomi is Japanese, but Kai has his mother’s Asian features.
While visiting them, Rob and I decide to go for a stroll with Kai, giving Satomi some well-deserved time to be baby-free. We go to the park and put Kai on a swing. He loves it.
Two attractive women come over and start talking to us. We joke about how much Kai loves swinging back and forth. I chat with one of the women, a tall brunette wearing a tight t-shirt that reads “Virginia is for Lovers.”
I have this profound thought: “Must hang out with cute babies more often.”
“Virginia is for Lovers” says she thinks it is great how we’re raising Kai. Both women assure us that men can raise children as well as women. Suddenly it occurs to us that these women think we are a gay couple who’ve adopted an Asian baby.
“Virginia” was not as loving after we told them the truth, as if we deceived them.
As we walked home, we saw ourselves as others saw us. I’m sure if we were two women walking with a baby, others wouldn’t have given us a second glance.
The situation reminded me of this popular article from the NY Times, written in April by by Jennifer Lee, titled “The Man Date.” (NY Times registration)
“The Man Date; What do you call two straight men having dinner?” The article discusses the issue that two male friends enjoying certain kinds of public activity together—going for a walk, visiting a museum, or having a meal—are automatically assumed by onlookers to be gay if there is no obvious business- or sports-related reason for them to be together. The fear of being thought gay, the article suggested, made it difficult for men to create the kind of one-on-one close friendships that women take for granted. (via World Wide Words)
Frankly, I think the thesis is rather ridiculous. It really didn’t bother us at all, although a few blocks later, we passed a couple of teenage boys hanging out. One of them nudged his friend and pointed at us, laughing at us with the baby. In retrospect, we should have scolded him, or at least kicked his ass.
Or even better, told his friends that we saw him last night at a gay bar.