I haven't had this feeling in a long time but yesterday I was at Target in the middle of the day with my son. On a Wednesday. And as we all know the only reason a man would be at Target in the middle of a work day with his child is because that's the day he has custody and he's trying pathetically to buy that child's affection. And to make that whole patheticness even worse I suffered this feeling when I interjected myself between a pair Moms in the Halloween section (nb -: This sounds like a very flimsy set-up to a porn movie. One that rapidly gets going with dialogue like, "quick - can I hide this in there?").
I wasn't just in any old part of the Halloween section either. No - I we were in the costumes-for-dogs section. I've been back in the US for coming up to 4 years now and I'm sad to say that I don't even blink at the notion of dog-clothes. And people pick them up to mentally measure them without even a hint of shame. I have lots of friends and acquaintances who love their dogs. This is perfectly fine. I also know people who really love their dogs. I understand this as well. It's admirable actually. But that thing Oprah does when people talk to her about their kids and she emotionally responds, "I know what you mean! This one time my dog shit in one of the guest bedrooms and I had to get one of the maids to clean it up!" is beyond mental. Those people are odd. There the ones who read that article about breastfeeding a pug and thought it was heroic.
Anyway the point is my son was pleading loudly to let him try on a hot dog costume for dogs. I got the glance from the one Mom. She gave me the "I don't think he knows these aren't for children..." look. The other Mom gave me a quick up-and-down glance. That one only ever means one of two things. The first is someone checking you out. But I'm big enough to confess that I knew what I looked like yesterday. I didn't look especially delicious. Obviously a tiny but intense sliver of deliciousness was bursting through. You can't contain all the dam water or in the end when the thing breaks everyone around you will get very, very wet (nb -: This is either a very good tie-in to the earlier it's-a-sordid-porno suggestion or just really bizarre. Undecided at present).
So I plumped for the other type of up-and-down glance. That one of utter judgement. Judgement of a man (so he claims...) who inexplicably has responsibility for a child during a weekday. The glance is thorough too. It involves checking to see if there's a wedding ring being worn. If there is then the man is definitely divorced. Probably married the slut he slept with while his wife was all ugly and pregnant. The glance evaluates whether the man looks like his clothing is nice or not. If it's not he's a loser - kicked to the curb righteously. If it is nice he's a loser - hoarding his money like a tyrannical landlord refusing to pay his serfs - and likely forcing lies onto his betrayed ex-wife and poor child about how he doesn't have any money. Finally the glance gives an aesthetic grade. If it's low and the man is ugly then it prompts an intense feeling of, "Ughh. Why would anyone want to sleep with that?" If it's high then the man is a vain bastard and prompts the intense feeling of, "Ughh. I bet he thinks I would want to sleep with him."
Then the one Mom asked the other Mom if she had a tissue for her baby. A nice glistening snot-bubble had billowed out of it (not a clue which to be honest) and needed bursting. Mom Two apologetically said that she didn't have one. I - currently enduring the Judgement Glance - reached into my pocket and cheerily offered it to Mom One making sure I used my best Hugh Grant posh-English accent. As she said thank you I added that after being a stay-at-home Dad for 18 months I couldn't possibly leave the house without one. Then a stuck a cherry on top of it all by turning to my son and saying, "Now remember - these are dog costumes. People here think this sort of thing is okay. But it's not okay. It's mental." Then we walked off.
But not without me giving them both a quick up-and-down glance.