I was standing at the intersection, in the bit of shade cast by the thick pole that holds up the traffic signals, waiting to cross south and walk the last block home, when the men traveling west in the crosswalk approached me. One was tall with light skin and a baseball cap, the other was my height and dark skinned and wore magnificent green socks pulled up high as if trying to reach the green patterned shirt they matched. It was the man with green socks who said hello. I said hello to him, and he said, "You look like you must be sixteen, seventeen years old." Being twice that age, I started to say, "And you look like you must be a liar," and then edited in my head to, "And you look like a man who needs glasses," but thought better of it altogether and said nothing at all. I laughed, though, and the man with green socks continued as he stepped onto my curb. "Are you a mother? Happy Mother's Day, if you're a mother."
I wondered whether his second salvo was a kind of course correction, an admission of sorts that his first remark was so obviously, so necessarily, so patently untrue—or if it was possible he might really believe in both my adolescence and my maternity. Texas is, after all, third in the nation for highest teen pregnancy rates. The Dallas Morning News tells me 2% of texas high schools skip sex education altogether and 94% are content with an abstinence-only curricula. Which is to say, only in Mississippi or Alabama might I be slightly more likely to have an encounter like the one at this intersection.
This was on Monday. People I didn't know had started wishing me a Happy Mother's Day the Thursday prior, and for all I know it will continue on tomorrow. I was once trying to catch a bus out of Dublin, and at first the schedules were off because of Good Friday. Then it had to do with what the clerk at the depot called Easter Saturday, followed by the well known Easter Sunday and the lesser known bank holiday Easter Monday. And then, so help me, I showed up on Tuesday and the Clerk shook his head. There would be no service to Belfast, he informed me, on account of Easter Tuesday. So maybe Mother's Day in Dallas is a similarly extended holiday. On Sunday a man with sunglasses and a barrel of a torso smiled at as we walked towards each other on the same stretch of sidewalk.
"Happy Mother's Day," he purred.
"Happy Mother's Day to you," I replied, and really meant it.
"I'm not a mother!" he corrected me.
"Neither am I," I pointed out.
So maybe we're not just a city that extendo-celebrates Mother's Day. Maybe we're just a town with a serious appreciation of mothers. I like to think that, that we're of concentration of appreciative folks whose mothers raised us right. Or maybe, should I ever be walking in the same direction as my interlocutor, there will be time to follow up the question, "Are you a mother?" with something along the lines of, "Would you like to be?"