About an hour ago I was reminded very palpably of just how blinded we all are by appearances.
Probably about 99% of my time out in public I am with my daughters. Now, I know I am biased, but these kids are really friggin’ cute. Going out with them is like taking a sack full of puppies to the park. I could be holding a bloody knife and a naked picture of Bea Arthur, but the cuteness would be all that people could see. I become cute by association.
That other 1% of the time I am defined only by my appearance and the cards are not stacked in my favor these days. I have not had a paying, get-to-work-on-time, behave-in-front-of-the-boss, job-type job in nearly two years and, well, let’s just say that personal grooming does not top the list of priorities these days. My hair has grown to my shoulders, my beard is usually unattended and I may or may not have showered more than once that week (before you ask, yes, I do bathe my daughters everyday – it’s just me that’s the mess). Hey, I’m busy – what do you want?
Today my wife is home and the girls, as is par for days such as this, want to be with her as much as possible, leaving me free to get other things done. So, I left the house wearing a bandana to keep my hair back and an old ratty t-shirt that says ‘belligerent’ (not trying to present that attitude, because I am far from it – this is a favorite old t-shirt for a now-defunct snow board binding company of that name). Add sunglasses to battle a Florida afternoon and you can probably conjure the image. Before I continue let me say that if you know me then you would probably not use the word ‘menacing’ to describe me. I am a hugger. I bake muffins. I cry a lot. I smile at kids and think ‘kind’ is one of the most important words in the English language. Today, though, I guess I didn’t look all that cuddly.
So I pull into one of those water kiosks to fill up some jugs and another person is already there. Just as I begin to unload my empty containers next to the open dispenser, a third car arrives driven by a woman who is maybe in her early fifties. I have brought enough bottles to put a small dent into Tampa Bay itself so I move towards the woman who is still in her car and begin to say something to the effect that I will be a while so she can go in front of me if she’d like. Before I get three words out of my mouth she stumbles over something unintelligible, ROLLS UP HER WINDOW and quickly backs out. Seriously.
Now, there may be a logical explanation other than the obvious, but by the look on her face, I really doubt it. Apparently, without two cherubs attached to my legs I am scary.
Give people a chance, folks. Kindness comes packaged all sorts of different ways. Conversely, the presence of adorable accoutrements does not guarantee that the adorned is a smashing human being.
You know…the whole book and cover thing. That’s all I’m sayin’.