We're at the grocery store. Ginger is sitting in the stroller sucking pacifier happily. Hazel is standing next to me, excited to help me pay for our goods. The old man behind me is grumpy and impatient. The old lady in front of me is paying and gathering her things, also admiring my children.
"They're so good," she says in her native Brooklyn accent. "And they're both adorable." I beam. She looks closer. "You can definitely tell they're brothuh and sistuh." I stop beaming.
"Sister and sister," I correct firmly, and miss her fumbling reply by turning my back on her and lifting Hazel to help me pay for our things. When I turn back she's gone. I hope she feels stupid. I know I think she is.
On the way out I inspect my girls. Hazel is wearing a purple shirt and pink shorts, pink plastic clip in her hair. Ginger is in a bright pink flowered onesie and mulberry cords with a ruffled hem. Pink and purple pacifier clip. Nothing I would let a son of mine wear in public. I think to myself and wish I had asked her, "Which one is the brother?"
Of course I assume it was Ginger since she has the short hair of any 6-month-old. But the pink is impossible to miss. I should be used to it by now - it happens too often - but I continue to be surprised every time. I stop into Starbucks for a passion tea lemonade, and we make our way home as I compose this essay in my head.
I am reminded of a time when Hazel was about 7 months old. My good friend Kat was visiting and we were off to a day in Manhattan. Hazel was mistaken for a boy all the time so I was sure to dress her in pink and purple galore, including a hair clip that barely stayed in. See for yourself. And sure enough, before the day was done, a stranger had asked, "He a boy?"
When I first moved to NYC, I thought this mistake was only made by certain nationalities that favor boy babies over girls. But as time went on I realized this ignorance and lack of social tact knows no ethnic bounds, today case in point.
Last time someone called Ginger a boy I was better prepared and told them to look closer and guess again. But today I am caught quite off guard, and hoping this writing will help me get over it. I am comforted and gratified by what Kat said that day in Manhattan, and what she would say again today in conclusion to the entire topic:
"People are idiots."