“My oldest son, who is almost forty years old at this point, used to be a huge punk rocker. He was into this genre before it got as popular as it is today. He played guitar for several bands, wore his hair in huge liberty spikes, never took off his combat boots, and he got tattoos and piercing all over himself. He really committed to that aesthetic. He would hang out with pretty rough-looking characters, which honestly did make me pretty nervous. When I would comment about that, he would always remind me that it was me who taught him to never judge a person on the outside. One unforgettable Thanksgiving, he asked me if he could bring a friend of his over to eat with the rest of us, because this friend had no family, and my son didn’t want him to be totally alone. I told my son that his friend was more than welcome to come over. Thanksgiving Day arrived, and as usual, I was rushing around to get all the food ready and onto the table. My sisters were setting the table when I remembered that my son would be bringing his guest! I made sure to set another place for my son’s friend when I heard a commotion in the front room. It sounded like my son was introducing his friend to everyone, so I ran out to meet them both. My son introduced his friend to me as ‘Mouse’, who had long dark hair, muscular arms covered in tattoos, and an actual swastika tattooed between his eyes. To say that I was taken aback was a complete understatement.
It took me a couple of seconds to get myself together, but I still told Mouse that it was nice to meet him, and we were all glad that he could come. My son gave me a smile, patted Mouse on the back and found a place to sit for him. Mouse was pretty shy at first, but our loudmouth family was able to help him feel right at home. After dinner ended and everyone had left, my son called me. He told me that Mouse said he never had such a wonderful Thanksgiving. Apparently, Mouse had grown up on the streets and had fallen in with a group of nasty skinheads. When Mouse became a part of that group, one of the other members had tattooed the swastika on Mouse’s forehead. By the time that my son had met Mouse, Mouse realized he didn’t want to be a skinhead. He didn’t have anyone close in his life, and he really just wanted to feel like he belonged. Mouse came over to our house with my son on several more occasions, and we always enjoyed having him over. He was definitely an oddball, but he was a real sweetheart underneath all those tattoos. When I think about Mouse, he always reminds me that people can always change for the better if they really want to. My son still loves to play punk rock. He now has a seventeen-year-old who is really getting into punk rock also. Like father, like son. My son hasn’t seen Mouse in a few years, so no word on whether or not Mouse tried to get that swastika removed from his forehead or not.”