A Short Story

“Oh, here it is—that picture I told you about. Can never remember where this phone stores photos I download. Anyway, that’s me as a boy when we moved here.”

“That’s you?”

“Here, lemme make sure I didn’t swipe it to the next picture when I handed it to you. … No, that’s the right one. See?”

“Oh, okay. Guess I just thought it might be your sister.”

“How come?”

“Well … you know, first there’s that long hair. Seems kind of girlie.”

“You mean girlie like how lots of Viking and American Indian and Pacific Islander males have preferred to wear long hair going back countless centuries?”

“Uh … well, no. I guess I never thought about that.”

“No worries. But you said, ‘first there’s that long hair.’ Something else seem girlie to you?”

“Yeah, your pink shirt. I mean, pink’s for girls, right? Boy babies wear blue outfits, and girl babies get the pink.”

“Mm, maybe, maybe not. Hold on a sec—I think I can find this pretty quick in my Gmail. Read it awhile ago and sent it to my brother. … And there it is. Listen to this quote from a magazine article—and remember, I’m reading it just for the pink-and-blue thing, so ignore the notion of strong boys and dainty girls. Here goes: ‘The generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.’”

“That from Paris or somewhere in Europe?”

“No. It’s from a US magazine for clothing merchants back in the early 1900s.”

“Hm. … Guess I never really wondered about the whole pink-and-blue stuff. … Oh, hey! I just remembered hearing a pastor say in the middle of a sermon how he’d never be caught dead wearing pink ’cause he wasn’t a ‘wimpy man.’”

“Sad … but doesn’t surprise me.”

“Yeah, but at least you weren’t wearing makeup in that picture of you as a little boy! I mean, that would’ve been—Why are you smiling like that? … You got something to say about that too, don’t you?”

“Sorry, but yep. Men have been wearing different kinds of makeup throughout history: ancient Egypt, China, Rome … Renaissance-era Europe … all the way into modern times in the Americas and plenty of other places around the world.”

“Geez. … Well, shit, makes me wonder what else I have in my head that I never gave a second thought.”

“Or a third or fourth or however many it takes to dig through all the layers, huh?”

“Guess so. Heh … and next you’ll be telling me God’s not a Him! Ha-ha! … Aw, damn, not that same smile again.”