The Kindness of Strangers

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It was a beautiful day. Not too hot, so I plugged my daughter into her stroller and took her on a walk. My Love Interest always says strangers come up to her to talk about the baby when they’re alone, but it doesn’t happen when I’m around too often. Once I was carrying my daughter past a woman who said, “Adorable.”  I told her, “Thank you, I take a lot of pride in my appearance.” but since then not too many comments to report until this beautiful day.

I stretched out a blanket on the grass right by the boardwalk on South Beach and let her crawl around and try to eat dead leaves before I pulled them away. A guy in a wheelchair rolled up, “What a pretty baby.” His leg was in a cast, so I didn’t feel as bad being creeped out by this man who had his shirt off and his skin covered in baby oil as I would have felt if he was permanently crippled. He rolled himself away. Time passed as did skateboarders and bicyclists then an old man with a cigarette shadowed over us.

He looked right at her. “How old is he?”

My Love Interest doesn’t correct people, but I always hear how Ernest Hemingway got messed up by his mother making him wear dresses and I don’t want my daughter to be tormented with gender identity issues as an adult, nor do I want her to be a better writer than me, so I correct him. “She’s nine months.”

“What’s his name?”

“She’s a girl.” and I tell him her name.

“Beautiful. Beautiful. My neighbor’s daughter disappeared last night. I’m looking for her. So if you see her call 911.”

“That’s terrible. How old is she?”

“She’s 34. She’s autistic.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, she’s wearing a blue shirt, white pants and blood all over it, you know,  because she just had her period.”

Next nice day my daughter and I are staying in.

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