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Filling in for Faustus #5

Originally posted to The Search for Love in Manhattan:

Damn Faustus for cursing his guest hosts with a daily obligation! Having a theme, though, does make it easier to follow his draconian orders. In fact, I should consider subjecting myself to similar rules on either of my other blogs — I could be much more prolific that way. Anyway...

See the eight-year-old
Knitting mittens on the bus.
Does his mother know?

I don't really like kids that much, but there are a lot of things I like about kids. Enough, at least, that I find them entertaining in small doses. One of the things that I always love is seeing kids who haven't had gender roles bludgeoned into them yet. Future-gay, future-straight, or future-whatever, there's a time when a lot of kids just gleefully go about their business doing what they like before they realize they're not supposed to act that way. I have a soft spot, of course, for little boys who haven't been called sissies yet for the way they run around with arms flailing, or the way they like to play with dolls, or the way they like to dance, or the way they like to kiss mommy and daddy just because they love them so much.

Sadly, the messages come from all sides that it's not so good for boys to be too girly, and the older kids get the more likely they are to toe the line. Better gender theorists than I can probably be more erudite about this. After all, I’m just another gay boy who had a harder time learning to be butch than most boys, but who still managed to develop a deep fear of being too much of a sissy. But patterns seem to emerge, and no matter how often we felt Free to be You and Me, we notice those kids who keep doing their thing longer than the other kids and we're sure we know their story.

Now, I don't think there was a direct correlation between my faggotry and my insistence that I pretend to be Jamie Summers as a kid, but I think that maybe I didn't realize the other kids wouldn't think that was cool for some of the same reasons I couldn't quite figure out why I felt a little set off from the other boys with whom I played tag and whiffle ball and whatnot. The signs often all add up, even if they don't add up too directly.

My friends and I would often eat at this diner down the street from where we worked, and we became very friendly with one of the waitresses who handled the lunch rush. (As a side benefit, we often got free cake.) She was single with an 8-year-old son who was her pride and joy. One day, she was so excited to show us his pictures from dancing school. There he was, captured forever in that moment when he was totally excited about working the jazz hands in his purple sequined tights, top hat, and fringed sleeves. The four of us — two gays, a dyke, and gay-friendliest single woman on Earth — shot glances at one another. We knew, and it probably wouldn't be long before the kid figured it out, but it was at once so sweet and so sad that his mother would probably be the last to know. Well, maybe not the last to know but possibly the last to acknowledge it. God bless him, I hope he's still tapping as fast as his light loafers will let him.

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