Whilst I was reconciling my bank account, someone called out crap, he’s a pansy. Yes, I think that was what I heard. Unless we are in a garden centre, Pansy is a word we seldom come across today. In my youth, we did not think it would be disparaging, we merely used it as harmless mockery. But, did we unknowingly hurt anyone who may have been openly effeminate or secretly gay when we loudly taunt them for being “girlish”, a pansy? Some boys were less boyish. They weren’t prone to dirtying their school uniform, their white Bata shoes were always brand-new white. Did they apply the white talcum-like powder coating to their shoes each day after school, I wondered. Maybe their mothers were OCD sufferers, their obsessive compulsive disorder made them particularly fussy about white shoes and white school uniforms. Why were we insensitive to those less boyish boys? Did we label them as pansies simply because they were careful not to dirty their shoes or just because they sat on carefully placed plastic sheets and not on bare earth? Just because they didn’t join the rest in hurting one another in their pretend World Championship Wrestling matches? Just because they shuddered at those who were game enough to feed live houseflies to their fighting spiders? Just because they couldn’t play football in the mud? Today, I find it irreconcilable to pigeonhole someone’s sexuality from their aversion to filth, insect cruelty and rough games. The discrepancy between then and now in how gays are treated is massive. Then, homosexuals got frowned at and sometimes got beaten up, now homophobia is frowned at and LGBT people have legal rights.
Murray, my son’s pup has the most adorable pleading eyes. He would melt anyone’s heart just with his cute, exaggerated doelike demeanour. When I am at work, he will not sleep in his own comfortable bed. Instead, he will pester me to let him sleep on my lap until I surrender. The last surrender cost me an expensive jumper from Prague, he tugged at my sleeves a bit too vigorously, the resulting tear caused me to shed a tear. Murray, no teeth! no teeth! Too late, he showed me his teeth. His playful tug at my sleeves was only to get my attention, hey hug me, put me on your lap. He didn’t mean to destroy my jumper, but he made me feel like a toothless tiger that day. I was supposed to be the alpha male in my office. Now I have to work with his head resting on my arm, his pillow. Worse was to come. Murray sleepily reached out for my hand which was busily moving the computer’s mouse. He planted his hand firmly on mine. Hey, Murray! We males do not hold hands! Is that meant to be a handshake? Weren’t you taught how to shake hands? A strong grip, a quick up and down motion, and let go. It’s not supposed to last more than two seconds, unless you’re posing for the paparazzi. Any longer and it will be deemed we are holding hands. Murray, two alpha males do not hold each other’s hands! This crap pansy, the friend in Hong Kong scoffed at me, I was sure he did. What’s this, urghhling? Holding hands with a male?
Anything wrong with that? I was tempted to ask, but I knew I would attract even more sarcasms. In Africa, Arab countries and South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, males holding hands would not provoke a homophobic reaction. It is a sign of friendship and respect for men to hold hands. They would not readily reconcile the discrepancy between them and the homophobic West. My gloves are off. Ok, no more handshakes. No more holding hands. To reduce the spread of pathogens, we should fist bump or offer high fives instead.