Last week it was super cold in Toronto. And I walked outside a lot. In my pocket, and soon rolled up on my head, was my red balaclava – a knitted hat. When the mercury really plunged, I did something that I hadn’t done in 25 years: I aligned the eye holes and the mouth hole with the appropriate body parts, placed my glasses into the contraption, zipped up my coat and headed out into the frozen world. And I did the same thing today.
Walking down main street Belmont to the Diner, I noticed faces sitting behind passing windshields, faces that were tilting my way without saying hi. As I entered our convenience store, the owner looked at me, I thought fearfully. Someone asked if I was going to rob the place, the same comment I got twice in Toronto.
My entrance into the Diner was met with a group silence until I disrobed and revealed my inner Bruceness. I wondered why folks didn’t seem to understand that it was darned cold, and that I wanted to keep my nose from freezing. Instead, everyone was on high alert, wary of the intruder. As a society, are we really that afraid of each other? I hope not.
Farther along in my day, it was time for the gym. The elliptical beckoned. I had pulled a t-shirt from my dresser drawer, the one on top of the pile. It was black with a white script: “Lovely Is Your Heart”. It’s one of my favourites. I don’t think I’ve worn it to the gym before.
Well … did I get some stares from the muscled gentlemen working out on machines! No vomiting, but the disapproval of some was clear. I’d often worn the same shirt during last fall’s meditation retreat, and at the end, when we could talk, two yogis mentioned how much they appreciated the message. But the gym? Another animal.
What were the athletes thinking? That I’m gay? (I’m not) That I’m hopelessly sentimental? (I am) That I’m weird for having “Love” plastered on my chest? (I suppose I am, but who cares? Certainly not me)
I walk through life, choosing to be visible. I know no other way. It feels healthy not to be slinking around, out of the public view. I talk a lot and no doubt many folks take issue with that. I say silly things and perhaps some see me as the height of immaturity. But one thing I know – I am pretty thoroughly myself. And that makes me happy.
What a shame that it’s too cold for me to wear my Speedo!