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Don’t Judge a Pooch by His Leather

You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 2 Corinthians 10:7


The summer I was pregnant with our second born baby-girl, my husband, Chris, and I along with our 2 ½ year-old first born baby-girl, Mallory, snuck away for a long weekend. To Virginia. In August. What possessed us to drive over 5 hours during the hottest month of the year to an even hotter climate while 8 months pregnant and with a Toddler in tow I cannot begin to fathom. The first day of this ill-timed excursion was spent traversing the heat-seeking colonial brick walkways of Williamsburg. The next day, we logged in time avoiding the countless rides a woman-with-child should be nowhere near as well as those rides for whom a Toddler is not yet tall enough at Busch Gardens. Then, topped it all off with a day standing back-to-belly, skin-to-Lycra with complete strangers hoping for hydration at Water Country, USA. And so it was here, under the stifling sun-stroke inducing sky with the scent of Coppertone Water Babies wafting through the stagnant air that I had the briefest of encounters with a total stranger that shifted a paradigm of mine for almost 30 years now.


It was midday, literally too hot for the human body to digest macerated food that our growing family of three spotted that loveliest of oases found only in overpriced theme parks. The Snow Cone Kiosk! From the vantage point of her stroller, Mallory was the first to unearth this techno-colored crushed ice faux-fruit-flavored miracle of refreshment in a paper conical. While Mal and I found and fought for a coveted shaded spot under a purposefully placed fabricated tree, my husband staked his claim in the snaking line, Oklahoma Sooner style. After an interminable wait, he came back with 2 blue-raspberry snow cones, one for me, and one for Mallory. Preferring a thirst-quenching Coke for himself meant staking another claim in another line. Mal and I settled in with our shaved ice delight that began to mean as much to me as the ice-chips I was afforded while in labor with Mallory.


While waiting for Chris’ return, we greedily inhaled our vibrant blue confection. As I pushed my tongue against the roof of my mouth warding off a brain freeze, I couldn’t help but notice a guy out of the corner of my eye. He was striding with great intent towards my baby and me. It took me only a millisecond to size him up. His head was shaved. His muscles on high alert in steroid stance. Among the countless vats of ink covering both his arms as well as his legs, I was able to discern only one tattoo buried on his right bicep. It read Pooch, which I took to be his biker name. Had he had a neck, I’m sure that would have been as multi-colored as the rest of him. His sweat was pouring through his shirtless chest, homespun jorts, and a black leather vest emboldened with multiple patches, none of which I knew the meaning. I half expected to see Ron Pearlman as Clarence ‘Clay’ Morrow trailing behind him in a rouge episode of Sons of Anarchy. The closer he got, the more panicked I became. At this point it proved impossible to get my husband’s attention as the soda stand was nowhere near our previously perceived paradise of protection. I looked behind me in the hopes of seeing a similar someone to prove his jaunt was intended for kin of his own tribe. Witnessing only crowds that looked just like me, I went into full mama-bear mode and positioned myself between this oncoming body-building machine and my baby, oblivious in her stroller. He finally reached us, my heart pounding. He stood about a foot away. Dropped to not one, but two knees. Looked at Mallory. Looked back up at me. Then, in the sweetest, slowest southern drawl one could muster, his eyes melting along with his skin, in a sing-song melody slightly above a whisper said to me, Whyyyyyyyyyy     her     eeeeeeeeyes     are      just     as      blueeeeeeee     as      those      snooooooooooow     cooooones. He then stood up, extended his right hand for me to shake, and introduced himself. As Pooch.

This inclusive, convicting, unintentionally condemning moment was all it took to rattle me to my judgmental core. I shook the outstretched hand of the man who, only moments before had me shivering in the sun and shaking in my flip-flops, and thanked him for going out of his way in order to pay my daughter this heartfelt compliment. I wished I could have told him what he had done. How he unwittingly shattered my perception and changed me. For the better and for good. But I didn’t want him to judge me. As I had of him.

*** This picture of Mallory was taken moments before Pooch challenged my way of thinking. I only wish the clarity of the photo showed off how blue her eyes truly are. As you can see, she is holding her snow cone. ***