The Woman Next Door

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“Stop it, stop it you two. What are you doing? Don’t you know it’s wrong? You’re both boy doggies. Don’t be doing that.”  The old woman screeched from over the chain link fence at my two dogs.

“God they aren’t even her damned dogs.”  I listened to her ranting and thought: Just shut up you crazy woman. They aren’t bothering anyone. They’re dogs for heaven’s sake. Just doing what comes natural.  I can only imagine what would she do if two people were kissing on the sidewalk and just happened to be the same sex?

The two dogs continued to enjoy each other. They had no inclination to pay the woman any mind.
“Would she be as offended if they were a male and a bitch having sex?  Probably not. She would think they were cute.” I muttered.  What is wrong with her? It can’t be that she has never seen dogs at play. “Shut up already!” I yelled to her in my head. Fucking woman is so frigging intolerant.

Then I thought that’s it, intolerance and fear. Of course, I was guilty of intolerance too. Especially with my demented neighbor who was still cajoling my dogs into behaving “normal”.

“What is normal?” I started to ask. Normal is so subjective. What is normal for me? What is normal for her?  Where does the line come down?  What does she expect anyway? I guessed normal for her would be getting up on Sunday and heading to church, wearing her piety on her sleeve for everyone to see.  She would help her neighbor, if her neighbor met her guidelines.

We all interact with our environment in or own way.  We’re all individuals damn it not automatons.
Why can’t people live and let live? Life is hard and lonely enough that just meeting someone who can love and care for you is a miracle.

Sexual orientation should not matter.  We deserve to be treated as people.

Maybe I should be kinder to her.

As a child I loved the mixed nuts that my parents would serve to guests when we entertained. My friend and her parents came for a visit. As we sorted out our favorite nuts, I picked up a Brazil nut and proudly told my friend the name of the nut was “nigger toes”. It was the end of the visit and the end of my friendship. I didn’t know that she was black. I just knew she was my friend.

I remember one boy in Junior High school.  He was not as athletic as and smaller than the other boys in his class. He was teased and derided as a ‘sissy’. No one, not even himself, knew if he was homosexual or not, yet he was labeled.  Connotations owned by a ‘straight’ culture. He was assigned this role by society.  He didn’t even get to choose. How would it feel for all of us to be treated as second-class just because we have differences from one another? I remember the feelings I had for that kid.  I felt for him.  He was never given the chance to prove himself in his own way.

Where does the fear come from?

In the Army we were told we were all Green, just different shades. That was their attempt to remove racial prejudice.  There was no color other than green.

I know people, Gay, Straight, or something in between.  They form bonds and build relationships.  Most of them would never consider denying that to another.  This woman’s fear denies her those relationships, those bonds.

As an adult, I still pick out my favorite nuts from the cans of mixed nuts.  I want to savor those.  However, I also enjoy the diversity of the rest of the can.  Mixed nuts and people are similar, in this; we get to choose our favorites.  Those who we want to spend more time with.  We only get the full flavor by enjoying the whole mix but the different flavors don’t diminish the other nuts, even if they aren’t our favorites.

From the corner of my eye, I see a brand new can of “Mixed Nuts”.

“I think I should go meet this woman.”  The richness of being human is enhanced by our individual differences, not diminished.   I cross the street to introduce myself to my fellow nut.

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