As I stepped out of my car, I was concentrating on not slipping.
The roads hadn’t been bad, but I quickly realized I had parked in an ice puddle. As I slowly made my way to the sidewalk, I heard giggling.
I looked up to see the two happiest teenaged girls I’ve ever seen in my life. They were ecstatic, barely able to contain their excitement.
“What are you laughing at?”
“Nothing,” they answered brightly between smiles.
Don’t get me wrong; I knew exactly what was happening the whole time. I just needed them to say it.
“I don’t believe you. What’s so funny over there?” By over there I meant two feet away, where they were oblivious to the freezing cold because they were so happy to see me.
“Can I give you a hug?” One of the gigglers asked instead of answering my questions.
“I suppose that depends on why you want to hug me.”
“I’ve just never hugged a midget,” she said- completely oblivious to how inappropriate she was being.
I cringed inside. Suspicion confirmed. As always, my mind raced. “What do I do? Which way do I take this?”
As usual, I erred on the sweet side, hoping this could be a teachable moment.
“Actually, midget isn’t really a real word.” I wondered if I should tell them that it’s only real in an offensive sense, and not a medical one, but I didn’t have the heart to even come close to being mean to them- they were so innocently rude and genuinely excited to see me. They weren’t making fun at all. That’s the hardest, because their condescension is so unintentional.
“You see,” I continued, “some small people are dwarves, and others, like me, are just Little People … No one’s really a midget.” Their faces didn’t change at all. I wasn’t doing a good job of explaining. And they were distracted by their excitement anyway.
I tried another tactic: humanize myself.
“What’s your name?”
Knowing the answer, I asked, “Are y’all related?”
Like a Double Mint commercial they answered in unison, “We’re Twins!”
Oh, yes, twice the fun here for sure. They were beaming.
“I thought y’all might be related. You going to school across the street?” I pointed to Detroit School of the Arts and they nodded. At this point, I was resigned that this wasn’t ending up to be much of a teachable moment.
“Y’all have a nice day,” I said as I turned to walk away. Never giving that requested hug.
They stood close to each other, only like best friends or twins are likely to do. Still beaming. There was a farewell in unison.
As I walked away, I heard one of them say, “Wow! That made my whole day!”