The Reds, God bless them, have learned to take it all in stride. They sit patiently, smiling politely while people coo and ruffle their hair while remarking on the freckles that dot the boys' faces. Even Luke now barely flinches when people reach out to touch his head.
Old men, especially, seem drawn to my fire-haired imps. But everyone, young, old, male or female, has something to say about their hair. The boys - and I, by proxy - get tons of compliments, "Lovely colour!", "Isn't he gorgeous?", "TWO red heads, aren't you lucky?"
I nod happily because, well, yes, it IS a lovely colour, he IS gorgeous and I AM lucky.
The boys also smile politely and offer a cheerful, "Nope!" when asked if they're twins, and giggle when I answer, "Yep!" to the question, "Well, are they Irish Twins, then?"
("Irish Twins", by the way, are siblings born within 12 months of each other and while I can see why folks might suspect I had the boys that close together, I sometimes want to ask them, "What do you think I am, crazy?)
Folks also seem compelled to pass along random information pertaining to redheads, the most-spouted being that the red-headed gene is dying out and soon there will be no gingers left on the entire planet.
If we're anywhere but Belleville, I simply nod, as though it's news to me. I have already heard this dramatic tidbit, but I never let on because this might be some stranger's first and only opportunity to share it. Instead, I raise my eyebrows and say things like, "Well, isn't that something!" and move my shopping cart a little faster. Once we've entered the "stat-spouting" portion of a stranger exchange, it's best to move on.
If we ARE in Belleville, and someone shares the "last of the species" stat, I chuckle and say this:
"I'd have believed that before we moved, but there are tons and tons of ginger-haired kids here. When we first moved to town and went to the grocery store, I turned to my husband and said, "Good Lord! There are red heads everywhere! Finally, finally we have FOUND OUR PEOPLE!"
Some other pithy observations made by strangers and my most-used replies:
"I bet they've got tempers on 'em, eh?"
"I blame their father for the broken windows."
"Who's got the red hair, then?"
(Which was actually funnier when we lived in Newcastle, because the mailman DID have red hair. So did the garbage man.)
"My aunt's sister's half-cousin's brother was a red head."
"Well, they say every family's got one hidden somewhere."
"I guess they're allergic a lot, eh?"
"Nope. Fit as fiddles. Must be their Irish blood." (What I want to say is, "What? What the heck does that mean?")
"Love the hair. They're so adorable. Do they look like their dad, then?"
"Well, thank you. I WAS feeling adorable, right up 'til now, but now you've gone and wrecked it."
"They're really not twins?"
"Nope...there are two years between them." (What I want to say is, "I'm their mother. Is that a real question?")
And today's question, from the lady waiting beside us at the deli counter:
"Did you know that, statistically, people with red hair die sooner than people with brown or blond hair?"
Me, wide-eyed and huffy: "Uh, not sure I really want my red headed children to think that something like that is true..." (Which was, you understand, a polite way of saying, "Shut-the-EFF-up!")
To which she replied: "No, really. I read it on Twitter."
Any random redhead tidbit to add?
What crazy sh*t have YOU read on Twitter lately?