In Chicago last week Mark and I were sure that we were going to be anointed or given some medal for being a multiracial family. We stopped in the south loop to grab a quick bite before spending the day on Michigan Avenue. A couple, perhaps a decade up on us, sat next to our booth. We wouldn’t have noticed them in the busy loud diner if not for their fascinating behavior—abundant “approval ratings,” indicated by numerous big nods and even bigger smiles.
Still weak from the stomach flu, I regarded my untouched soup for most of the meal, praying they wouldn’t approach because I didn’t feel like conversing with them. They didn’t, however every time I looked up the couple nodded and smiled at me or at Mark—if they caught his eye. The kiddos were facing us, unaware that we were being considered for sainthood. I was relieved when they paid their check and scooted. We finished our meal about the same time; Mark and I silently agreed to wait a bit before asking for ours, hoping the couple weren’t lying in-wait outside the restaurant.
The other day I took A swimsuit shopping since she outgrew her one-piece by several sizes. In the outdoor mall area two guys just about tripped over themselves goggling my young chics, who were completely absorbed in messing round with each other and G, giddy and free from a long day at school.
Yes, they are beautiful (as any mama of her brood would attest), but what was interesting was the young men (high school- to college-aged) were so over-obvious that I just stopped walking and stood watching them watch my girls. And you know what? They still couldn’t stop oogling my girls. The guys glanced at me. They took G in. They understood we were a mom and her kids. They knew I was watching them and they continued to weave and turn almost drunkenly as they looked again and again and again, and then over their shoulders again. I’d chalk it up to my girls being Asian, but not this time. The guys were Asian.
Now, of course, I have no idea through which lens the couple at breakfast viewed us, but it was mighty uncomfortable, and in our vast Chicago experiences, unusual. The Asian guys? That was something new for us. What was their lens? Young men eyeing lovely young girls? I don’t know…