There’s a festive aura around the office. The two-fisted punch of Thanksgiving and The Jays in the playoffs has sent the work into a twitter of activity (can I use that word any more? Or has it been entirely subsumed into social network speak?). People around the office are manic, doing that weird sports thing of yelling at a screen like it’ll change the outcome. The guy on our team who I thought was mute has said more in the past hour than in the past 10 months I’ve worked here. He’s like an excited baby with a grip on language. It’s kind of magical to watch. I’ve never been able to jump in on the tribal frenzy that occurs around sports. It’s a weird phenomena that brings out the most of our simian ancestry. Hooting and hollering, picking fights over arbitrary things like the colour of a shirt. The idea of actual violence over your team preference seems the most ridiculous trait. It’s nice that you’re passionate, but when you throw a punch you’re trading in all of that higher intelligence you’ve been gifted with. Surely you’re better than that. You’re adults, right?
I saw a cute kid on the subway today. In her pram she was reading some French book and playing with a slinky. She kept looking up at me, smiling and giggling. I smiled back. Her mum gave me a dirty look. Really? I’m ok with the fact that I’m the type of person who smiles at kids on public transport. I see no reason not to. However it feels like at some stage we decided that looking at kids in public, especially as a grown man, had some dodgy connotations. Seriously, the hidden spectre of paedophilia has become such a dominant fear (because it’s abhorrent, I get that), that it’s naturally assumed in far more cases than it should be. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like aspersions on my character are thrown if I say that a) a kid is cute, b) I like kids or c) I like playing with kids.
That’s fucked in a big way. I understand that children are precious and anything happening to them is life-shattering, but this kind of assumed guilt only ties into the culture of fear our modern society is predicated on. What needs to happen in order to reverse this? To understand that 99% of people wouldn’t remotely consider having sex with children, let alone desire it. Of course I don’t want to put children at risk, but since when has guilty until proven innocent been a sensible notion? Yeah yeah, I hear you. It’s a much bigger issue with wider ramifications and so many moving parts. Just frustration, that’s all.
The whole experience did remind me that there’s a kid in my family who’s growing up without me. My niece is somewhere in the realm of 15 months old, she’s starting to talk and read. The thought wasn’t without sadness. I’m missing the whole thing and it’s my fault. Being overseas isn’t a huge hurdle, I could be making the effort to skype regularly (or ever) and at least ensure that by the time she visits I’m more than just an abstract concept. She seems like a sweet, funny kid. If she’s anything like her parents it’d be impossible for her to not turn out well. The ways things are going I’m just gonna end up that estranged uncle who’s all “hey, remember when you were a fluffy little 3 month old and I gave you a bath? Your skin was so soft that I had to dry you extra carefully to make sure you didn’t get a skin rash. We talked a little, but you hadn’t developed a personality yet. You were just driven by animal impulse. Like a sports fan.” Nobody wants to be that guy. I certainly don’t. Will I do anything about it? Only time will tell.
Also actions. Actions will speak louder than both words and time.