Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Pansy:  (informal offensive)  an effeminate or homosexual man
– from The Oxford American Dictionary

My father called me a pansy.  Once.  That's all that was needed.

We lived in Dawson Creek at the time.  My father was home from the store for lunch.  It must have been a Saturday, because I was home from school too.

I remember I was moping around the house, complaining I was bored.  Not the most patient man, particularly with his two children, my father wanted me out of his way.  He told me to go outside, ride my bicycle.   

I stood in front of the dining room window, just outside the kitchen where my father sat, looking at the grey, bleak neighborhood.  I thought there must be something wrong with him.  It was early spring, and there were still large patches of snow on the grass in the backyard.  

I told my father it was too cold to go outside and ride my bike.  His response was terse.  And he called me a pansy. 

It wasn't his voice I heard then.  It was the voice of any one of the bullies at the elementary school I went to, whose name-calling had cut over and over again.  I learned my father was no different from them.

I bet it felt good to say that.  I bet he'd been looking for the chance to tell me how he really felt about me.

Perhaps he thought calling me that would toughen me up, change me into the little boy he really wanted, make me less shameful to him in front of our neighbors, whose sons were real little boys.  Not like me.     

I'm 54 now.  My father has been dead for nearly a year.  Every time I see a pansy, I think of him.  You never forget. 

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