Yesterday I went to the shops. Ugh. Hold me now this time of year is madness. But this tale is not about the shops. People were generally kind, we all shuffled along like sheep through the checkout buying more plastic and crap than we could ever need. That is a tale for another, much less cynical, day. This is a story about a man. A man who I never met, who just happened to be sharing the bench with me outside Supre. A man who I had seen interact with his teenage daughters who were shopping IN Supre.

We sat there, minding our business. My nephew was having a bad day so I rocked his pram while he slept and watched the world go by. Then a woman and her son, pushing a trolley of Christmas cheer strutted past. They barely registered for me amongst the acres of long tanned legs on display. Wow to be 17 and know what I know now. Sigh. Anyway…. they barely registered for me UNTIL the woman turned to her son and loudly said

“Look at that old guy sitting there checking out all the young girls’.

She says it loudly. Obviously in a deliberate attempt to be overheard by the man. I know he would have heard. I did. The people behind me did because I saw them turn around. I felt embarrassed for the man. I flashed my gaze at him and he was doing his best impression of not having heard her. I was furious at the woman. How dare she.  And I couldn’t keep my mouth shut {as usual}.

Actually LADY, I said, he’s just waiting for his daughters. I met her with a steely gaze that I hoped conveyed my disappointment, annoyance and internal desire to give her a piece of my mind. She shrugged her shoulders, grunted and kept walking straight out the sliding doors. My face burned with anger. I don’t care what her experience of men, this was so unacceptable. I thought of the men in my life. This post. My nephew sleeping in the pram.

I turned to the man and he met me with a grateful, if not embarrassed smile. I shook my head and smiled back. We didn’t say anything. He reminded me of my Dad even more in that moment. A man of few words. I could tell she had gotten to him. This mad me sad. I went back to thinking and noticed less than a minute later he had waved his daughters over. They spoke briefly and he walked off in the general direction of the food court.

In some small way that horrible woman had won. The side of judgement and cynicism had won. I sat there and wondered what the heck becomes of us when our first reaction is the assume the very, VERY worst of people we meet. What happens when our first thought is for the darkness of the world with the ‘joy of Christmas’ literally ringing in our ears. That made me sad.

So lady if you are out there, know that I won’t stand for you being like that. A lot of people I know won’t either. I hope you can overcome whatever it is that gave you the evidence to call this man a pervert when you didn’t know him from a bar of soap. I hope you do that before the man YOU are raising is impacted by your opinion of men. I hope he knows that men aren’t all dirty, uncontrollable or lustful above all else. I hope that you find peace this Christmas.

And I sort of hope your son accidentally pushed the trolley into the back of your ankles. 

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