The zero parent

By | 2013/04/16

Airports are funny things; I either arrive with plenty of time before my flight, or (less frequently) in a flustered rush.

When I’ve got time, I usually seek out a bookstore/newsagent. Airlines still work on the deluded premise that passenger electronic devices in flight mode might somehow disturb take-off and landing, even as they hand out iPads to their flight staff to replace manuals, etc. So, much as I’ve got ways of occupying myself in flight, that first fifteen minutes and final half an hour may as well be classified as the “tedium delirium” for me.

With this in mind, I usually look for a magazine to occupy those minutes. On Monday instead, I found something a little different.

There was a couple chatting to the middle aged woman behind the counter about their holiday in Australia. Somehow, kids came up. “Do you have any kids?” they asked.

“Three”, she replied. “Or really, two and a half. Two girls and one gay boy.” She looked around and gave a nervous giggle. Maybe she didn’t spot me behind the bookshelves, or maybe she saw my long beard and tattoos and thought it was safe. “I should be careful when I say that”, she said with a little lilt in her voice, “You never know who could be listening.”

Meanwhile, I thought steam might have been visibly coming from my ears like an old cartoon character. Evidently it wasn’t, because no-one pointed a fire extinguisher at me, so I cleared my throat and announced, “It’s funny you should say that. Because, I am listening, and I am gay, and I think your son is very unlucky to have such a beast of a woman like you for a mother.”

I didn’t get my magazine, but maybe I might have let another bigot know that we’re everywhere. And maybe, just maybe, she might have gone home with a slightly better attitude towards her son.

As a mate on Facebook said later when I mentioned the incident: she may have felt she had half a son, but he definitely had zero of a mother.