Huey and I were at the playground, playing on the slides, when a blond man, the father of a beautiful two-year-old girl, walked up to the low railing surrounding the park and said to a man sitting on the bench just outside the park, “Are you staring at my daughter?”
The man, a nondescript white man in his 40s, looked at him quizzically.
“You’re staring at my daughter. I saw you,” said the blond man.
“Whatever, man,” said the guy on the bench. “I’m just sitting here. It’s a public park.”
“But you’re staring at my daughter, aren’t you? Aren’t you staring at my daughter?”
By this point, their confrontation was starting to draw stares from the other parents.
“Are you a fucking idiot?” said the man on the bench, getting agitated. “It’s a public park. I’m just sitting here watching. It’s a public park. I’m not doing anything. It’s a public park.”
“You can keep repeating that it’s a public park,” said the blond man, calmly, “but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re staring. And it’s making me very uncomfortable. Why are you here? You don’t have any kids with you, so why are you here?”
“It’s a public park… My wife… our kids… It’s a public park, what the fuck?”
“Men without kids don’t belong here. Please leave. Now.”
“Whatever. Fuck you.” And so the man on the bench left.
The other parents murmured their approval, staring after the guy, as if trying to memorize his features.
I hadn’t noticed the guy staring, but we’d only just gotten there. It’s sad that the sight of a man sitting on a bench outside of a kid’s park immediately raises red flags. He could have just been enjoying the sunshine and the sound of the kids’ laughter.
But maybe not. And that’s why I, too, was a little relieved when he left.