And that's usually where it ends. Very rarely does anyone verbalize their inner debate or disagreement, with the exception of small to medium sized children who haven't learned the social grace of waiting until you get out of ear shot. Today was a rare day.
The sauce and I were in line at the grocery store, and as the register dinged through our items, I could feel the man behind us staring at me. I tried to get a bead on just how much he was staring by casually turning back towards the magazine rack. We're not talking about a sideways glance here. I'm talking about shoulders facing forward, full on gawking. I made very brief eye contact with the man (white male, early 70s) as I turned back towards the clerk. This apparently made him feel like we'd bonded because a second later he said, "You know your thing there looks a little infected." At first I thought he was genuinely concerned or possibly making a joke. I've had older men take paltry stabs at piercing humor that involved fishing lines jokes and "did you know there's something on your chin?" So I muttered something about how it was fine, but thanks, and turned away from him, but he wasn't finished.
"My son's a doctor and he's had to remove half of someone's face before! You could lose your face!" and he made a dramatic swipe of his right cheek. (The exclamation points are because he was on the verge of yelling) Now more people are staring, although I was comforted by the fact that half of them were staring at the old coot raising his voice.
"You know, you feel good about yourself by earning things. You work hard and you earn things. THAT's what makes you feel good." He may have leaned in for emphasis at this point, but I lost all ability to see anything except the canned goods directly in front of me, so I can't say for sure.
"Oh look, she has some too [looking at charrow as she bagged our groceries]. Oh and there's one in her nose. What about your tongue? You got one in your tongue too??" He may have been gesticulating at this point, but all I could focus on was punching in my PIN and waiting for the "Approved" to show up so I could get my receipt and run.
"You need to ask yourself where you're going in life!"
To which Charrow replied "You need to ask yourself if this is any of your business!" And then we left, seething and wobbly from the overdose of ignorance. We got home and went to our respective corners, her to the kitchen to make gazpacho, and me to the couch to finish my writing assignment. Thirty minutes later, Charrow said, "I'm still really angry." (even as she's proofreading this, there's no laughter)
After today, I may have to add elderly white males to the list of populations that hasn't advanced past the "You think it, you say it" mentality. I know it would be more fair (and valid) of me to wait for further evidence, but it's not the kind of research I care to conduct. I'll stick with the cold hard stares of 12 year old girls in the pool locker room. At least they're easy to forget.