Artwork / Empathetic Magic / David Fitting In and Standing Out
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David took my hand. Like lots of couples, we have signals we use to communicate privately when other people are around. He let me know he had noticed that someone had called him a “terrorist” again. It was meant as a joke—it almost always was—but that didn’t mean it was funny. Pretending like only a murderous criminal intent on destroying society wears a full beard is childish.
For the first few years of our relationship, I would tease David that I’d never seen his face without a beard. I told him that I had a right to kiss his bare cheek at least once before deciding whether or not to marry him. From the beginning, he explained to me that men don’t grow beards to hide things; they shave to hide their hair.
But I didn’t get it until later. Until I’d watched a grown man grab at David’s face and ask him if he needed a razor. Until I’d witnessed an adult woman say that David looked like a “bandit.” Until I’d heard the “terrorist” comment for the nth time.