The other night I told Andrea and Mikey that Tyler wanted mariachis for his birthday. They thought it was some ironic joke on his part. I said it wasn’t. I’d made the same mistake years before when Ty said he liked drinking at Applebee’s. There’s so much bullshit irony in this world that we just assume it of everyone.
But Ty’s not like that. At least, with me he’s not. It makes conversations easy because I don’t have to parse his words and tone and face for sarcasm and cynicism. With other people, I can feel cruelty resonate after answering their question in earnest, only to discover there was no earnestness intended in the prompt.
I know better now. I know they’re just hiding pain. Someone once hurt them for being vulnerable. So they wrapped their wounds in lies and misdirection.
Later I told them about riding the train into the city and practicing Spanish with him.
“Spanish?” They said at the same time, in surprise.
“Yeah, we talked in Spanish.”
“He speaks Spanish?” Mikey asked, sort of stammering in disbelief. Andrea frowned.
“Yes. He’s been studying for months. He even has a crush on his tutor. It’s cute.”
Mikey put his hand to his heart and smiled. It was a tiny pause. Just a beat. He was touched. “I remember Ty when he was just a baby. They grow up so fast!”
Do you see how the love strikes through defenses? It disarms so quickly. There’s so much of it out there, hidden under exoskeletons. It takes bravery to lead with it. Bravery gets too easily confused for foolery and cynicism for wit.