I had an interesting time after my tattoo session today—I went grocery shopping with J, and it was quite the experience this time around.

First, it’s spring here in Nevada. It will be in the 60s or 70s for as far out as the forecast goes, which means no need for a jacket. That made my simple blouse and leggings rather noticeable. And my purse. So I went in expecting some reaction. I wasn’t trying to throw it in anyone’s face, mind you, but I expected to be noticed. I wasn’t disappointed.

Most of it was people, rather obviously, getting the attention of another and pointing me out to them. This happened at least 8 or 9 times throughout the store. There were a number of glares as well, but I’m used to those by now. No, it’s the whispered words, those uttered in frantic excitement, lest the spectacle of me miss their friends or family: those are the ones that bug me. I mean, there’s no subtlety at all to it. I see you. I hear you. You might as well just say what you’re going to say. Or say it to me, if you can do so kindly and with compassion. Maybe I can answer questions for you. Maybe this can all be out in the open.

Perhaps my favourite was the young boy who, openmouthed, looked at me and proclaimed “What the…?” Good on you, kid. That was an honest reaction.

There were also two instances where parents very clearly stopped their children and were talking to them. I’m remaining hopeful that it was a positive lesson those kids were getting today and not one of hate. Explain that I’m just another person. Explain that I’m not going to hurt them or anything. Maybe even explain that it can be rude to stare without addressing the person.

I don’t expect the world to change all at once, of course. But this also explains why I don’t go shopping alone much anymore. It’s hard to be a spectacle, but it’s even harder when you do it by yourself.