Sunday, March 2, 2008


Lately there's been a gaggle of folks whispering, "So, have you met the new neighbors?" The seemingly innocent conversation starter has a whole host of dynamics attached. Gossip. Disbelief. Judgement. Novelty. Curiosity. I give my neighbor Chuck and Mac Daddy, a lot of credit for the genuine aplomb with which they responded to that very question yesterday. They were like, "Oh sure we met. They seem so fun and cool. We're really looking forward to seeing them once they're settled in." They were being honest, not making a statement, based on their bona fide candor. It's pretty easy to diffuse the situation when the instigator doesn't get the response he expected.

The hushed tones of such questioning are akin to that mother's whispering of unseemly words in St. Elmo's Fire. I find such behavior so irksome. You see, the new neighbors are two women. Who live together. They're not related. One is not the landlord and the other a paying tenant. No one is the caretaker of the other. They're not even roommates. Give up? They're gay for goodness sake. BFD. Not even newsworthy. Yawn. There's certainly juicier gossip than that in the 'hood. Hell, I'm potentially fodder for better grilling meat considering some of the stuff I write on this here very blog.

Are we so far removed from diversity of the population that a gay couple moving in two doors down is all that interesting? I recall a few years back when similar whispering ensued when Republicans moved onto the street. We were flabbergasted. Republicans?! Moving in here? What ghastly horror to invade our progressive little precinct! They'll ruin our voting records! Tell me it's not so! It turns out that more and more are sending moving announcements (on engraved Crane stationery, no doubt) from our zip code, but that's for another day. I'll have plenty to report on that divide once the election heats up. But I digress, as I so often do...

I find it more difficult to explain to Bird and Deal why someone has guns in his home than why two women live together or why one of Bird's buddies has two mommies. In fact, all the kids in class think it's pretty darn cool that this little boy gets to have TWO mommies. To these children, mommy equals love. I might be the only Indian in the world who's bad at math but even I know that this equation balances, no matter who the mommy is. Love, in all its forms, is infinitely easier to explain than violence or danger, or the potential for it, in all its many, gruesome forms. Love makes sense. It is indeed patient and kind.

The face of the American family isn't necessarily changing, it's just that the myriad forms of families are finally marching out from the under the rock we've collectively buried them under. Back in the 80s there was a whole lot of whispering going on among my friends' parents because my mom and dad were divorced. I was the only one whose parents weren't married, and in retrospect, the whispers and pitying looks I got all spelled: Gossip. Disbelief. Judgement. Novelty. Curiosity. To top it off, my brother and I lived with our dad. Not our mother. That's still practically unheard of, so imagine the judgement passed and speculation going on back in the day.

Times are changing folks, and let's keep up! No use staying shackled to closed minded ways that don't provide opportunities to teach our children (and ourselves, for that matter) about the diversity of the world. It's enriching to have the world open up to us verus closing in on us.
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