Sunday, December 31, 2006

All That We Know

Rolling through Dillard’s at the Galleria on Saturday, window shopping in the shoe department, we noticed two conspicuously rough-looking characters who also were checking out the foot apparel. They kind of looked alike---both unshaven and heavily bearded, wearing ball caps and jeans and T-shirts and mud-caked work boots, and both pumped-up with huge, deeply carved show muscles---except one was tall, in the 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 range, the other was scaled down a bit, more in our height cohort but seemingly twice as wide. They stood out among the wan yuppies trying on the Timberlands, and we figured them for iron-pumping firemen or maybe a sibling contractor team, since they seemed to have a facial resemblance and smelled like they had been nail-gunning wallboard all day, or maybe they were the last native English-speakers running a jackhammer in Harris County.

We inwardly flinched when the taller one stretched over us to pull down a display shoe, our reptilian brain misguidedly signaling an imminent beatdown of our spindly, decrepit self by this bad customer.

“S’cuse me,” said the hairy gent, and we did.

Later, after we made our purchase---a “Portuguese style” flannel shirt stitched in El Salvador---and had headed out the door, we saw the two guys walking ahead of us in the parking lot. They were strolling side-by-side, holding hands and giving each other little smooches on the cheek as they headed to their vehicle, and as we loped up from behind a West U-type mom and her teenage daughter came at us from the opposite direction, both averting their eyes as they walked up to the same-sex couple and then quickly swiveling their heads once past.

We locked eyes with West U mom after she re-swivled. We shrugged. She shrugged.

Reminding us, again, as we always tell the lil’ chi’ren: It’s a big, wide world.

And that’s all we kn …

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