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SIX WORD » LIFE

Red ball caps make me shudder.

by euterpe on August 2, 2010   |  FacebooktwitterTumblr


In the mid 1990's my husband (white) and I (South Asian Indian), along with our two daughters, were driving through Kansas. We stopped at a McDonald's in Russell around 7 o'clock at night. We were two bleary-eyed people, along with a sleepy 7 year old and a cranky 7 month old; worn out from the road.

We noticed the stares from the workers at the counter right away. We really didn't think much about it: we'd seen those stares before. But, half-way through dinner, we noticed that the booths around us were full. They were young, these men. They were staring at us and then whispering amongst themselves. We caught a few words here and there: one of the phrases has stayed with me to this day. "Look at that baby," a guy wearing a red ball cap said, "she looks totally white!" He said it accusingly, like we were pulling one over on him.

Now, you could say that I am a pretty outspoken person. My husband is definitely more level-headed than I. When I heard that about my baby, I leapt half-way to my feet and whipped my head around, ready to lash out. But my husband quickly put a restraining hand on my arm and told me to sit down. Let's just leave, I said. He shook his head and sat there eating, while his face turned redder and redder. He wasn't going to let them run us out. When we did leave, the group of men followed us out.

It was pitch-black outside and my arms were shaking, even though I was holding my daughter, or maybe because I was holding her. At that moment, everything I valued weighted down my arms. But the men didn't approach us. We got into our car: they split between three pickup trucks.

It was early yet, but I-70 seemed desolate. We stuck to the speed limit, not knowing if one of them could get us pulled over or not, and drove. The pickups stayed right behind us. They didn't pull off until we crossed over the town border.

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