“Come here son, the view’s great here!”
“Let’s take a selfie! We haven’t taken one as a family in awhile!”
I could feel the gaze of dozens of restaurant patrons boring holes in me. My family and I were on the patio outside the restaurant, overlooking the entire city, with nothing but a pane of one-sided glass separating us from the tables within. I could hear their thoughts: they churn within me, their frequency coalescing into embarrassment, chagrin. I’m an adult now! Who takes selfies with their parents with everyone watching? That’s for kids! I’ve seen this view before! The train of thought with endless cars chock-full of similar raging thoughts charged full speed through every station in my brain, paralyzing my cognition and any chance of enjoyment.
If not for the people, I could perhaps find the courage to enjoy myself, my family. But they, they see, they judge, and even though their opinion should not matter in the least, I care. I am a man, and with that new-fledged identity comes the burden of stoicism, indifference, unflinching callousness. Real men don’t cry. Real men don’t laugh. In fact, real men don’t have emotions.
I am a real man.
And so I set my face as flint, cold as steel, barren of amusement or the diversity of emotions that belong to the feminine gender. Chin up, frown set, shoulders back, chest out. That which brings confusion and melancholy to my parents, should garner for me laurels of praise and admiration among those silent observers behind the glass.
I must please them. I am a man. I am not a child.
Before long, my parents give up, perplexed dejection painted on their faces in every single selfie we had taken. Victory was mine, casualty: two. I was preparing myself for the gazes of admiration from the patrons sitting inside the restaurant: “Oh, how this handsome man resisted the appeal of familial bliss! How manifest his manliness! How stern his gaze!” I pulled open the glass door to thunderous…
The restaurant was empty.
Three quiet individuals left the restaurant then. None of them understood what had happened.
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