I am walking outdoors next to my apartment complex, heading to the gym for a bike ride. I am wearing my tri-shorts, and a white T on top.
Two kids pass me by. Boys. One is maybe 9, the other 12. Somehow I think they are friends, not brothers. The older one says “Hi!”.
Many men/boys pass you by in this part of the world, without recognizing your presence. Sometimes they look at you, but don’t return your smile. Anyhow, these kids aren’t like that. I’m glad for a moment. “Hi!” I say.
The older one reveals the reason behind his opening salvo. “Love your tights!” he says. The sarcasm in his voice is clear. The younger one snickers. I pass them by, a bit saddened.
I wonder what caused him to make that remark. He doesn’t know me, I am just a passer-by. But he found it important enough to make that remark, by first making the effort to establish a short exchange. I think I attribute it to two factors:
i. His desire to reinforce his way of looking at things, his aesthetics, and to subtract mine, through a putdown. This perhaps, adds to his sense of confidence about his place in the world.
ii. His need to strengthen his influence as a role model to the younger boy – there was a hint of appreciation at the smartness displayed by the 12 year old, in the younger one’s chuckle. It seemed this transaction upped the 12 year old’s status within the little tribe of two.