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Episode 2: The Play Date

The New Adventures of Justin T. Fairchild, Social Justice Warrior

February 2017

“I’m worried about Richie,” I said.

“Why is that?” Emma asked.

“Well, just look,” I said.

If you enjoy the ongoing adventures of Justin T. Fairchild, Social Justice Warrior, be sure to check out the new Liberty Island e-book featuring America’s favorite Constitutional Trotskyite. SNOWFLAKE’S CHANCE: THE 2016 CAMPAIGN DIARY OF JUSTIN T. FAIRCHILD, SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR is available for download at Amazon.

Richie’s first Christmas had been a contentious affair. We had told everyone when he was born that we were only going to have white unbleached wooden toys for him to play with. This announcement was met with a fair degree of completely unmerited scorn by everyone else in both of our families. The one grandparent who came closest to compliance was my mother, who gave Richie a set of wooden blocks with Cyrillic characters, and a onesie with Che Guevara’s face, which I appreciated but had not actually been brave enough to have him go out and wear in public.

Richie was perfectly happy with his yellow Tonka trucks and his toy railroad and various other toys that, had they been real, would have spewed several metric tons of carbon dioxide into Mother Gaia’s fragile atmosphere. Worse yet, they were all toys that heightened his male gender orientation. So when, a couple weeks after Christmas, one of Emma’s cousins in Seattle sent a gift card for the major chain toy retailer, I seized on the opportunity to alter the gender balance in the playroom.

By which I mean I had bought him a Barbie doll.

Not that I was overly happy with doing so. The Barbie that I bought was wearing a rather tight-fitting gymnastics outfit, and I didn’t want to encourage the male gaze at that young of an age. So I went on the Etsy website and found a nice white pantsuit, and cut the doll’s hair so that it looked as much like Hillary Clinton as possible. I gave it to Richie, who grabbed it with glee, and proceeded to bang the doll’s head against the coffee table.

“No!” I shouted. “Richie! You need to ask for affirmative consent first!” For all the good that did.

So, yes, I was worried about how we were socializing Richie, and I wanted to do something about it, and I told Emma so. She looked at me, thoughtfully.

“Maybe he should have a playdate,” she said. “You know, have him meet some other children. He’s going to be in school soon enough. It wouldn’t hurt him to have a little company his age.”

“Where can we go to meet other children?” I asked, hoping that Emma would understand that I meant other progressive children.

“Leave that to me,” she said.

❄  ❄  ❄

The other baby’s name was Henry, and he was wearing a onesie that said that “My Parents are SO Woke,” and that was good enough for me. Said parents were named Larry and Ray, and they had been married for two years. Emma made the introductions, and then went upstairs to take a much-needed nap. We put the babies in the pack and play, and went into the kitchen to criticize Trump’s picks for the Cabinet.

After about a half hour, Richie started wailing, and I went to pick him up. I checked his diaper, and sure enough, he was in need of a new one. I took him over to the changing table, and he quieted down enough to so I could overhear what Larry and Ray were saying in the kitchen.

“What do you think?” Larry said.

“I think we need to at least approach him,” Ray said.

“The worst he could say is no.”

“Why would he say no? We’re smart, and we know exactly what we’re doing. If we approach him the right way, he’s bound to go for it. It’s not like he’s going to be prejudiced.”

And indeed I wasn’t prejudiced, or I aspired not to be, but I wasn’t gay. Not even a little. And I was married, which meant something to me. But if I turned them down… would that mean that they would think I was prejudiced? Was my lifelong heterosexuality nothing more than homophobia by another name?

Richie started burbling again, and I realized that I hadn’t completed the diaper change. I tossed the old diaper out, put the new one on, and placed him back in the pack and play, and greeted Larry and Ray with a cautious smile.

“So we have a proposal for you,” Larry said.

Oh, my God, they were just going to come out and ask me to have sex with them, and I was going to have to tell them no. “I need to sit down for a second,” I said.

“Are you feeling all right?” Ray said.

“I’m fine. Just fine. Really. Feeling perfectly okay. Would anyone like some more fair-trade, sustainably sourced coffee?”

“We’re fine,” Larry said. “We were just, you know, wondering about your borders.”

“I have very firm borders,” I said. “Very strict. There are lines that I won’t cross, and that’s important to me.”

“The babies sound like they’re playing nicely,” Roy said. “Why don’t you two go outside, and maybe Larry can explain what we’re talking about.”

I knew what they were talking about, and while I had been propositioned before, it had never been, you know, as politicized as it was now, in the Age of Trump. Was it enough to just be a straight ally? Did I have a responsibility to the progressive movement to take the next step? Just because Larry and Roy had the same kind of genitals that I did, did that mean that they were unworthy of consideration as sexual partners? Gender theory said no, although Emma would undoubtedly say yes.

“It’s not that simple,” I said. “I mean, I’m married.”

“Well, of course,” Larry said. “We wouldn’t want you to make any decisions without consulting your partner. But I think that there’s room, you know, to think outside the box a little bit.”

“If you give us a chance to show you what we can do,” Roy said, “we can come up with a proposal that’s mutually beneficial for everyone.”

“At this stage, we’re not even talking about a full commitment,” Larry said. “Just playing around with a couple of ideas, you know. We can show you what we have in mind, and you can tell us whether you’re cool with it.”

I loosened the collar of my shirt. “I think this is moving a little fast, don’t you?”

“Honestly?” Roy said. “If you don’t get started on this now, it’s going to be too late. We’re coming in to our busy season. If you want to get on the schedule, you need to think about this.”

I had no idea in the world what this meant, or how to process it. Schedule? What in the world?

My tongue was thick in my mouth. I had to put a stop to this, had to tell them that I wasn’t interested, that I didn’t fit in to their schedule, that despite the fact that I didn’t want to have sexual relations with them, I was still every bit as woke as they were, even more. But there’s woke, and there’s woke, and I wasn’t ever going to be that woke, so it was time for me to say something, and thank God, Emma came down the stairs right then.

“How’s the playdate going?” she asked.

“It’s just breaking up,” I said.

“It’s a good thing you came down,” Larry said. “We were just trying to convince Justin to hear us out about that project we were talking about.”

“You were talking to my wife about this?” I asked, trying to keep the anxiety out of my voice, and not succeeding.

“Well, of course,” Roy said. “Any time you start talking about landscaping, you really need to involve both partners. You’re talking about the value of your home, after all.”

“You two are landscapers,” I said.

“Roy is a landscaper,” Larry said. “I am a landscape architect. And I think there’s a lot that could be done to upgrade your borders. Pull out those amelanchier bushes, put in something that’s going to look a little less raggedy in the fall, something that’s in accord with what the lines of the house are.”

“Justin, are you all right?” Emma asked. “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“Yes,” I lied. “I’m fine. I just need to check on Richie for a second.”

❄  ❄  ❄

“You are embarrassing me,” Emma said. “You are acting super-uncomfortable, and I guarantee Larry and Roy are feeling that from you. What is the matter?”

As nervous as I had been in thinking that Larry and Roy were propositioning me, I was double-nervous in having to explain that to Emma. “They were trying to give me the hard sell on the landscaping stuff,” I said, after a quick moment of inspiration.

“How do you think I met them?” Emma asked. “They put a flyer in our mailbox, and I asked around about them. They do amazing work; we’d be lucky to be able to hire them. Do not mess this up with your borderline homophobia.”

“I am not a homophobe,” I said.

“No, you’re just an idiot, but they don’t know you well enough to know the difference. Look. Even if they make you uncomfortable, think about it this way. I want Richie to grow up knowing positive gay role models, okay? So it becomes more normative. And you are fouling that up by being a big stupid jerk. I mean, anyone would think you thought they were trying to recruit you or something.”

“Of course not,” I said. “Not that there would be anything wrong with that.”

“Yeah, there kind of would,” she said. “Don’t worry. I’ll protect you from their advances.”

I picked Richie up and held him close. I wanted so badly for him to grow up to inherit a better world. Where gay and straight and cis and trans and genderqueer and everyone in between could all live together in happiness and understanding. Maybe Richie could help build that world. Maybe he could be one of the next generation who was fine with people being who they were.

Except today, he needed another diaper change.


Snowflake's Chance cover

If you enjoy the ongoing adventures of Justin T. Fairchild, Social Justice Warrior, be sure to check out the new Liberty Island e-book featuring America’s favorite Constitutional Trotskyite. SNOWFLAKE’S CHANCE: THE 2016 CAMPAIGN DIARY OF JUSTIN T. FAIRCHILD, SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR is available for download at Amazon.

About the Author

Curtis Edmonds

Curtis Edmonds is a novelist (Rain on Your Wedding Day and Wreathed), children's book author (If My Name Was Amanda) and part-time barbecue chef. He is the criminal mastermind behind the intermittent but socially-conscious Justin Trudeau-Fairchild serial on Liberty Island, which has been (somewhat unwisely) collected in Kindle format as Snowflake's Chance. He was a frequent contributor to McSweeney's Internet Tendency until they turned into Mother Jones with a laugh track. He has unhealthy attachments to fiscal conservatism, the Super Bowl hopes of the Dallas Cowboys, and other lost causes.


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