I’m walking back to the rescue organization’s table and I enter the conversation midway.
"Should I have said ‘hey dude’? ‘Hey man’? ‘Hey…woman’?" The young Marine is slightly red-faced, the very definition of well-intentioned and confused, trying to salvage the situation.
"No, just don’t call me ‘girl.’" She’s oblivious to his remorse, staring ahead, adjusting the red J. Crew flat on her right foot.
They’re friends, maybe more, or maybe they were at some point. I recall seeing them having lunch on an Eastern Market patio a few weeks ago, following an adoption event like this one.
"Sorry, I really didn’t know."
"No, it’s just that ‘girl’ is for men that hate women."
"It’s also military, unfortunately." A more middle-aged woman, folding chairs a few feet away, interjects. I can’t tell if this contribution helps or makes things worse.
"Well, yeah, but it’s mainly for men that hate women." Still looking into the distance, forehead creased.
And with that, the conversation is over.