In all the ways I saw my future unfolding, none of those fates involved spending Thursday mornings with ten housewives and their toddler offspring.
To be fair it was not supposed to be this way. Not that I should be spending my Thursday mornings as a pirate or as the president of the United States, but rather it was My Love Interest who was intended to be here. She had quit her job to take of our daughter, and so she signed them up for a Mommy and me gardening class at the local botanical garden. But then she got a part time job with hours too good to be true, with one caveat. It interfered with this class. And so there is one Daddy imposing his presence.
I was not nervous going into it. In previous lives I had put myself in many awkward positions. I had spoken in public in front of strangers, I had hitchhiked, But very rarely had I felt that I had landed on some strange alien colony as in this class. The Mommys do not laugh at my attempts at humor. They look at me in horror when my daughter trips and instead of running over to her and picking her up telling her, “That’s OK you can get up.”
My daughter and I got to the garden early on our first day. There’s a fake Japanese bridge surrounded by real bamboo that she likes to throw rocks off of into a ten inch deep pond. There is another pond with koi and turtles I have to plead with her not to throw rocks into.
Eventually the Mommys show up with their strollers. The teacher introduced herself and said she heard I would be joining them. Each week had a different theme. The first week I was there was vegetables, so we sang a song saying hello to each child involving their favorite vegetable. We chomp green beans to Dexter and shuck corn to Violet. I had noticed this before, but it became clear that kids today no longer have the traditional names from our youth. There are no more Johns, or Marys, or Michaels.
The teacher has activities planned. One week it was planting a bean in a cup to take home, another time it was yoga, but with all these toddlers it very quickly delves into absolute chaos. In spite of the obvious discomfort the others have by my presence it’s a pleasant enough way to spend part of a morning once a week.
The final day of the class, something strange happened though. I parked the car in a garage where we can get free parking. I pulled my daughter out of the car and walked over to the elevator. The door opened and at a little after nine am on a Thursday morning, the elevator had another passenger. A man dressed as a woman. Not a modest woman either. This 50 year old gray haired man, was wearing a bustier that revealed his hairy chest along with a pink poodle skirt.
I didn’t know what the protocol was in this enlightened day and age. Should I have kept my child away from the stranger danger or was I in this era of Bruce Jenner supposed to act like this was an everyday experience? I chose the latter. I said “Good Morning” and my daughter watched from the glass window as we descended.
If this was a dream it would be obvious what it symbolized, discomfort with my gender role. But this was reality, this actually happened, so there was no cosmic meaning to this situation. It was just another Thursday morning on my way to the garden to be amongst the housewives and toddlers.