Wednesday, July 25, 2007

When a Large Family Makes You Defensive

I stood poised to enter the security detection device at the aiport a few moments ago, following my wife who had the one sheet of paper with both of our home-printed boarding passes. The young man beckoned, "Come ahead, Bart." It's always a little surprising to me when someone calls me by my first name, especially a stranger, and especially with name as unusual as mine. As I moved forward, he smiled in a twisted sort of way and said, "So, you decided to leave the rest of the family at home, huh?"

In a scant second my brain registered a moment of irritation as I scanned his face. His face was unknown to me. His badge, "Adam 6156" did nothing to jog my memory, either, and I thought in the chaotic way one does when confronted with too many psychological stimuli at the same time, "How in the world does he know my family?" Then, a nano-second later, I thought, "Because it's an orange security threat level [extreme danger], maybe it's some kind of a trick question." I responded demurely, "Yeah, we left them all at home."

"Yeah, Marge and Lisa and Homer?" His eyes sparkled with his self-identified wry humor.

"Actually, they're busy working on the movie I think," I replied, trying to step for even a moment into his revelry. I only wanted to get through the security process quickly, retrieve my laptop, place it in my briefcase, and slap my shoes on my feet so I could keep moving. He continued his momentary revelry and this summarily dismissed me.

I couldn't help but think how much my life has changed in the past eleven years. There was a time not that long ago when a question about my family, and leaving them behind, would have sparked nothing more than a grunt on my part. I might have even been clued in enough to recognize as he called me by my first name that he was up to playing some word games with me. But, alas, adoption has made me a bit defensive.

I have to smile at myself sometimes. My wife says it's good not to take myself too seriously. So I guess I still have some things to learn.

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