Ginger Hikers

I was a little kid during the Civil Rights Movement, and somehow I always assumed everyone was getting less racist — not more.

But a new racism has sprung up, and it has come from those fat bastards at South Park.

They did a show about Gingers — they don’t have souls and their children will kidnap you in the night… Yeah, funny stuff like that.

South Park is hit or miss, but I thought that one was pretty funny. The Bear liked it too. For 30-something years together we have an unspoken motto: Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

Fast forward a few years. “Ginger” is one of our inside jokes – like:

  • We call the Boy’s childhood friend “Day Walker” because he’s a Ginger with pigment.

  • My sister rarely screws things up, but if she does — it’s because she’s “Ginger”

  • My pigment impairment is so pronounced, when we go on a beach vacation, I’m just a “fucking Ginger with gray hair”.

One cool day we decided to go hiking in the Superstition Mountains. A couple of hours up a little hill — nothing crazy.

We weren’t alone. There were packs of people passing our old, slow assess on the way up. We got to a saddle between hills, and took a rest. About 75 other hikers were milling around the rocks and enjoying a cool breeze in the open space.

We tried to head down when no one else was leaving. Failed. There was a family: mom, dad and two or three little kids “hiking” around, over and through us.

Then one of the little bastards would get tired or distracted, the whole clan would stop, and we would pass them on the trail. Rinse and repeat about every 200 yards.

The Bear was following the Savage family rule: “Kinder to strangers than kin.”

She was saying nice things and paying special attention to each child — like they count as a full human or something.

About a mile down, we stopped to take a breath, and here comes our happy all-American family.

“Looks like you are winning the race,” the Bear called out in that way that makes people like her. They waved and smiled. If they had been puppies, they would have been wagging their tails and humping her leg. “We wouldn’t feel bad about losing, except you’re a bunch of Gingers.”

Dun. Dun. Dunnnnn….

They were all red-heads. Each and everyone. Dad seemed to have the most pigment, then mom. But with each successive child, the family line got redder and paler — they added freckles like Al-Qaeda had unleashed an attack of the measles.

The smiles disappeared — replaced by angry silence. They gathered their children like moma ducks passing a coyote and moved faster down the trail. But the kids were small (and pale). So they just had to stop to rest (or add sunblock).

Every 10 minutes for the next 90 minutes we passed in silence. We could feel the penetrating stares boring waves of loathing and resentment into our pea brains.

When I thought we were out of earshot. “Damn, you sure pissed off those Gingers.”

“Who knew they were so fucking sensitive,” the Bear said.

“The Sun does,” I said… and like most of my “brilliant comments”, that killed any further conversation.

Later in the car, we agreed the playground must be hell for Gingers.

I’ll bet those parents are sick and tired of saying that the insults their kids face are just “jokes” from some stupid-ass show for juvenile adults (South Park — and people like us).

Hell, maybe even the parents have to put up with assholes leaving tubes of sunblock or face spackle on their desk at work?

But their reaction shows that it’s just “easy” to make up a new “race” and punish people for no fucking reason.

Ginger is still a little funny to me, but (like the N-word, the C-word, the K-word, the S-word, the W-word, the other F-word, and — list all your own racist-anti-whoever slurs) I try not to throw out the G-word at people I don’t know.

With time, the joke should wear off, and all the little red-headed people will be able to venture out without fear of searing comments about their sensitive skin.

But with the way things are going, in 15 years they could end up taking courses at Berkley, hiding in their safe spaces with little orange tabby kittens and tweeting out horror stories about what those fat bastards did on a desert hike to ruin their childhood.

Either way, I think that’s the last time the Bear and I will hit the trails, so it’s not likely we will destroy the lives of any more Ginger Hikers.