By Jeff Hodges
When my daughter was in pre-K we walked to school past the mannequin in the dog collar, chains, and leather underwear hanging in the shop window on Christopher Street.
Lounging on our doorstep in the aftermath of a Gay Pride Parade we saw a guy in red lederhosen twirling the feathered pendants on his nipples, followed by a fellow in a black corset and matching construction helmet, then a dude in purple lingerie, and, finally, Rollerena in full bridal regalia skating down the street waving her magic wand.
After the Halloween Parade my daughter would ride on my shoulders and exchange make-up tips with the bearded gentlemen in evening gowns who towered over the ghosts and goblins.
Spectacle is just spectacle and if you don’t attach a lot of baggage to it, it can be pretty entertaining, or become pretty mundane. As my daughter got older, it was interesting to see how she and her Village friends would find the outlandish unremarkable, and hardly worth comment.
Spotting guys in drag was a competition for us when she was young—we would see from how far away we could make a determination, and keep count. Once I overheard her telling some duck hunters upstate that her Dad thought he was pretty good at identifying drag queens but she was better at it because she was a girl.
I wonder how parents deal with the sexual paraphernalia so openly displayed in shop windows these days. I remember Condomania with its brightly alluring storefront and inviting displays. My young daughter thought it was a candy store. She couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go in. I couldn’t either, but the fellow behind the counter was adamant about not letting us browse the merchandise. We would stand outside looking through the window and, suddenly, my daughter would lunge toward the door, bawling, “I’m going in!” while a crowd would gather to observe this particular exercise in Greenwich Village parenting.
I thought about bringing some condoms home and blowing them up like balloons but my sensible wife thought that was a silly idea. I ended up telling my daughter that when she was older she could have all the condoms she wanted, but that for now she was going to have to leave them for the grown-ups to enjoy.