“Ryan,” A mother’s warning tone sounded behind me as I sat inside the DMV in West Bend, WI, waiting for my 16-year-old sister to have the photo taken for her newly rewarded driver’s license. “RYAN. That’s a woman’s maygahzeen.”
She was drawin' out the vowels, don’chaknow.
“A woman’s maygahzeen. Here, here Ryan,” She paused to thrust some books across the aisle, holding out her other hand for the glossy periodical. “Here’s some books, Ryan. Fer boys.”
His response, although verbal, wasn’t much more than a quiet grunt of resistance and maybe the muttered word, “Girls.”
“RYAN,” her exasperation was climbing. “That’s for mahms. For mahms, Ryan.”
At this point, my sister came down my row, license in tow, her triumph obscuring the frazzled mother’s half-hearted attempt at age appropriate censorship.
“Boys…Waffles…Ryan.” Waffles? Beats me.
I can say that I didn’t catch any homophobia in those long vowels, any A – E – I – Oh – my – Gawd – my – son – is – gonna – be – ah – ghey. And I’ve been known to read a little two-fists-deep into overheard snatches of conversation, to perceive slights in every lingering, every sidelong glance on my jaunts back to the Midwest.
No, no, despite her nasal tone, it was clear Ryan runs his mahm as thin as her voice is tinny. Ghey though this 5-year-old may one day realize himself to be, I’m sure it is his present precociousness that both prompts and pushes his mother’s patience. As my own mahm mused, “She probably wasn’t too anxious to have to explain “menstruation” to him right there in the middle of the DMV.”
“That or, ‘WHAT’S AN OR – GASM?!’” I took it a step further.
Her face scrunched together in response, amusement seeping irrepressibly through the mask of dutiful peevishness. It’s an expression I know well. After all, you can take the ghey out of Wisconsin, but no matter our environment, we Ryans never truly adopt nor understand the need or desire for a conventional filter; thus, my mother has learned to choose her battles and I imagine Ryan’s already has too.
Dat sed – I’ll betcha ah`ole bayguh cheese curds an'ah year-lahng subscription tah “Redbook” dat neither ah dem was close ter concedin’ dahfeat.