It was a sunny afternoon in October when I stepped out of the store to buy a new pair of jeans.
I was hoping to save money on the way home, but my mother, a former stripper and mother of three, couldn’t bear to wait until the day after the holidays.
So I asked her to call the nearest pawn shops, where I’d seen several boys wearing pink shirts and shorts walking in the opposite direction.
“It’s going to be like Christmas with all the little toys and gifts,” she told me.
I had no idea what to expect, but the boys, all under the age of 18, were eager to get their hands on me.
“We’re all looking for something nice,” said one of them, a man named Tom.
He was also a little older than I am.
“You’re a little boy, right?” he asked.
I thought he meant I was a little girl.
I didn’t want to be rude, but I told him I was six years old.
“Well, then we can buy you a Christmas present,” he said.
Tom, who works as a cleaner, had bought me a pair of pink socks.
I’ve never worn socks before, so I was confused.
What kind of presents were they giving me?
I was very curious about the toys I was receiving.
I wondered if the boys had bought toys to play with.
I also wondered if they had bought my mom’s socks.
It wasn’t until I asked about the socks that I learned that they were for my little brother, who was four.
“That’s right, boys,” he announced, pointing to my pink socks and my pink sneakers.
The boy, who also works at the store, told me they were called “little gifts” and that he had bought them to give to my little sister.
I looked at the boys in the store.
They were all wearing pink.
“Can I please have some of your socks?”
They all agreed.
“They’re nice, and they’re cute,” I said.
I don’t wear socks.
Tom explained that they made the socks for him and his sister, and I wanted to see if I could wear them.
So, after I explained that I’m six and a half, he pulled them on.
“My little sister’s wearing those shoes,” he told me, as if I was some kind of adult.
He looked at me and said, “Do you want to try?”
I nodded, and he started to put them on, then pulled them off.
“I’m sorry,” I told Tom, before he could continue.
“But I just want to take these socks off.”
He picked them up, put them in the bin, and said I had to wear them until I was eight.
I wasn’t allowed to play.
I could only look at them while wearing them.
I kept them on for about five minutes.
I couldn’t wear them because they were pink, but a few minutes later, the shop manager came in.
He apologized and told me that it was because they didn’t match my size, which he called “a mistake.”
“I have to buy more socks for my brother,” I complained.
“How about this,” he asked, and picked up the same pair of socks he had sold me.
Tom and his friends all took off their socks and took my shoes off.
I asked them why.
“Because I’m wearing them,” Tom said.
They said they didn, too.
The manager told them they had to leave.
I called the police, who told the police that there were too many boys in one store and that I was “over-sensitive” and “trying to make trouble.”
I was in trouble for wearing pink socks, but police said they could make a report for trespassing, because they found my shoes in a plastic bag at the back of the shop.
I left that store, but when I came back the next day, I couldn�t leave without seeing a judge.
The next day I tried again.
“There are too many,” I pleaded.
“Don�t make trouble,” the manager said.
“Go back to your parents and tell them what you�ve done,” he added.
I told the manager that I’d already been called a “little girl” a dozen times.
He told me I should get a lawyer.
“Do not go back to the shop,” he ordered.
“No, please, you can’t do that,” I begged.
“This is your store,” he insisted.
I took him at his word.
After that, I tried to leave the store with my shoes, but there were more boys there.
I tried the same thing the next morning.
I saw another man at the same store.
He also told me to stop being a “troublemaker” and told my mother to take me to a different store