Scarlet Alphabet

Yesterday I was helping get a mailing out at the botanical garden where I volunteer weekly. There were 7 other people sitting around, two of which know the bare bones of my story. A woman who has been very open with me asked how many children I had altogether and I told her (and everyone else at the table) that I hadn’t raised my firstborn who was adopted. It was the first time I’d even met one of the people there. A ripple of silence went around. Then a woman with a strong leadership style said her friend in birdwatching group recently reunited with her “first daughter” which invited me to share that my daughter and I have been in reunion nearly 20 years, said with a smile, followed by another ripple of silence.


We turned to talking about good books and literature which turned to Am Lit and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The woman next to me said she saw someone on Halloween with a scarlet A on her dress and standing next to her a child wearing a B. The group cracked up laughing and I sat quietly not getting the joke. My sense of humor was so absent! Why would Pearl be wearing the letter B?

Later thinking about it, I thought B for *astard, which made sense but the humor in that was a bit too harsh for that crowd. This morning the thought was B as in the second letter of the alphabet. A,B,C indicating the scarlet A no longer had the meaning it originally held.


Writing this all out gives me a fresh perspective. They were shocked, startled, to briefly hear my story. They haven’t shared that experience, but the experience we shared yesterday was one of acceptance, even though it took me 1/2 a day to figure it out.


3 responses to “Scarlet Alphabet

  1. Wow, I didn’t even think B could stand for Bastard. I automatically thought ABC. Which is funny to me because I will be attending my first fathers family reunion this year and meeting him for the first time. I see myself as the former reason for B. Especially since he was married to another woman when my first mother conceived me. I am just thinking that everyone there will be thinking I am the bastard daughter. Scary and very very sad. Which is why I think it was funny that my mind did not jump to the same conclusion that yours did. Wonder why?

    • Linda, The moment was pressured for me. I’m pretty introverted and rarely speak in a group that size, (except when leading a class). I was feeling particularly vulnerable and missed the obvious.

      Good luck at your first father’s and your family reunion. OXO

  2. Ripple of silence. URgh that must have been weird. You are brave. It’s such a hard thing to talk about in public, you just become so vulnerable. You are very brave.

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