Pizza During Holy Week

We were in North Carolina during Holy Week.

I was a guilty-feeling elder of worship and the arts who had punted the week's activities to very competent people and an extraordinary music director  . . . so I could go to the beach for spring break.

Now, before I go on:

I love North Carolina. I confess I think it's politically backward and I swoop down with my yankee Maryland plates and biases, but here's why NC is so awesome AND so effed up.

I walk into a restaurant with my family:

I am White.

My family is White.

I have a helluva rock on my ring finger, which suggests (correctly), my White children have been conceived and born within marriage.

Hell, we even had a church wedding, y'all.

We have followed all of The Rules, or so it appears.

So, I pass by the Ten Commandments hanging on the wall, totally comfortable. I pass. I pass as Good White Mother. Of only TWO children, but hey, there's still time. Therefore, my family and I are Sweetie, Honey, Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Where was I? (No, I really do heart North Carolina.)

We were having pizza. A couple came in, two women stereotypically butchy. The kind a certain brand of men especially like to mock and disdain. Because they're not pretty enough to be titillating, I guess.

The women were not married, of course, because North Carolina thinks it can block "sin" that way.

It was one woman's birthday. They were almost apologetically celebrating.

And what struck me was that they seemed both so happy but so afraid. Smiles and eyes darting.

"Buy her some cannoli!" I hissed to Chris, "It's her birthday!" But he had already signed the check.

"Go ahead," he said. "If you want to open a new tab."

Well. Our sweet server ended up bringing them some on-the-house cannoli, which warmed my soul. I mean, I elbowed Chris to add a few bucks to the server's tip, but whatever. It was time to go.

In Maryland, I would've let things be. But here? I dunno. I felt I should correctively tinker or something, which possibly sounds patronizing and maybe it just IS patronizing.

As my family left, I swung over to the couple. "Happy birthday," I said  wanting to fix the whole world but settling for a lame smile. I smiled to keep things light. But seriously, happy birthday.

I got grins and thank yous and left. We had parked behind the restaurant, near the canal where big ole pick-up trucks need to park.

My girls were dripping their popsicles. "Get in," Chris and I told them.

"Hello!" someone called.

I turned.

Running after us was one of the women. The sun was behind her, so I couldn't see clearly what object she was waving, but obviously it was for us.

I hustled toward her.

Lorelei's seahorse.

"We thought this might be important," she said.

I couldn't believe she left her partner to chase us down, way beyond the back of building.

"My god," I said. "This is my daughter's lovey. You have no idea how important it is!"

She grinned at me. Then, completely sincere: "Happy Easter, y'all."

"Happy Easter," I said.

I held Lorelei's seahorse and started to cry.

I could not imagine how much the church must've hurt her and her girl throughout the years. Yet here she was, on the eve of Good Friday, wishing me and my family Happy Easter.

Of course. Easter.


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