SCENE: The mall play area for children. There are about a dozen children ranging in age from 18 months to 9 clambering around and jumping from the soft, foamed structures. Parents and guardians sit on the benches that surround the area. Some are bored and stare at their phones, others watch the children.
I am dressed en femme with some light makeup. Skinny jeans, boots over them nearly reaching my knees, and a lavender crossover top with a black tank top underneath. Dangly earrings hang from my ears and a pendant above my décolleté. This is the first time I’ve been out and about en femme like this in a few years. The first time ever like this in daylight.
My children are playing and being the energetic young boys that they are. My wife is shopping at Macy’s. A grandmother sits down next to me and helps her granddaughters, 4 and 5, take off their shoes. My oldest is playing with a girl about his age.
ME: “They’re a lot of work, aren’t they?”
GRANDMOTHER: “Yes, they are!”
She smiles at me and does not stare, double-take, or take furtive glances at me. The children play. A man sitting alone across the way keeps looking at me. He looks puzzled.
My wife arrives.
ME: “Find anything?”
WIFE: “I found some boots I wanted to try on, but no one would help me.”
ME: “That sucks.”
WIFE: “Yeah, I’m really annoyed.”
My oldest is standing on top of a structure next to the girl he is playing with. They are looking at us.
GIRL: “Who are you here with?”
BOY: “My mom and dad.”
GIRL: “Where are they?”
BOY: “Right there.” <He gestures towards us.>
The girl looks confused.
BOY: “My mom and dad. Right there.” <He points again.>
GIRL: “Oh, so you have two moms?” <She looks relieved.>
BOY: “No. That’s my dad there.” <He points directly at me.>
The girl looks _very_ confused.
My wife looks…angry? Mortified? Like she’s been kicked in the gut? Sad? All of that?
<My son whispers something to her. She doesn’t look convinced.>
GIRL: “Boys can wear boots like that?”
<She side eyes me like she’s trying to figure something out, shrugs, and moves on.>