I thought I was open-minded. Raised by my open and well-educated mother and father, and having traveled fairly widely and having known a lot of different kinds of people, I thought I was prepared for anything.
But when I saw the first couple holding hands during a visit to St. Louis last weekend, I was taken aback. Then I saw more and more and more couples.
I cringed. I winced. I recoiled. I’m not really proud of my reaction, but the display of affection was so out in the open that it threw me for a loop. I caught myself shaking my head, with the slightest touch of a sneer on my face.
I guess I’d never given mixed marriages much thought. Perhaps I’ve lived a sheltered life. But when confronted with numerous, heck, dozens of mixed relationships in plain sight, I kind of got a sick feeling in my stomach. I mean, I’m not talking New York City or Los Angeles. I was in St. Louis – the wholesome – supposedly – heartland of America.
I could tell that some of the people were a little nervous about being seen in public. Who wouldn’t be? They kind of averted their eyes. After all, they had to endure more than a few stares, smirks, and, in a few cases, rude and derogatory comments.
Others seemed to flaunt their lifestyle. They strutted about, seeming to dare anyone objecting to their choice of partner to say something. They were, well, “flaming” in their choice of lifestyle.
My cousin and I muttered our mutual disgust to each other. He has seen it many times over the years, but coming from rural Wyoming I simply wasn’t prepared for the sheer number of mixed relationships I was seeing. As I looked around, I realized that “they” were everywhere – far from a majority but certainly a healthy percentage of the population.
Why would I react like that – I who thought of myself as rather enlightened. I guess coming from rather homogenous Wyoming, where most folks are similar in their, ahem, tastes, I guess I wasn’t prepared for what I was seeing: shameless affection for each other, holding hands in public! Even hugging. Have they no self-respect?
At first I was ashamed by my reaction to it all. But now that I’m back home, reinforced, I suppose, by my familiar surroundings, I’m even more disgusted. I mean, what is our country coming to?! Sure, we can be friends with “their kind.” But do we really have to accept them?
Now that I think about it, we do have a few mixed marriages right here in good, old North Big Horn County. But most folks around here have the good sense to be discreet about it, to keep it behind closed doors.
Don’t be mad at me! At least I’m being honest. You probably harbor some of the same feelings. You just won’t admit it.
But there’s no way you can ever get me to accept them, these mixed relationships. I’m talking about, of course, St. Louis Cardinal fans dating – even marrying – Chicago Cubs fans.
It just isn’t right.
He in red, she in blue, or she in red, he in blue. And they’re…together.
Now do you understand?