shortly after kristian started teaching high school, his student teaching position, actually, there somehow came into being an in-joke, you know how they happen, nobody really remembers... basically, neal always wanted him just to lose it one day in class and yell at the top of his lungs at the kids, "call me `sir,' goddammit!" i always thought that was a really funny thing to yell at people...
jumping tracks (the tracks will merge into a train wreck momentarily)... i have long hair. it seems that in this society, even after all the years of hippies and rock and rollers, even though all the bible-belt bible thumpers grew up looking at pictures of their savior as a soft-faced, beaded man with long, flowing hair, it seems that any person with long hair to be considered a female at first glance. i have never really thought this way, myself, having found it more reliable to discern a person's sex from his or her gait, stature, body shape, and demeanor rather than adornments and affectations; after all, the external appearance can change, but the actual body doesn't change all that much.
however, this doesn't stop people from calling me ma'am. i have long hair, really long hair, blond hair, long blond hair, long hanging halfway down my back blond hair. i can understand, putting myself in other people's shoes, that someone with hair like mine and a clean-shaven face might, from the corner of your eye, appear to be a female. this does not explain the large number of times i've been called "ma'am" by some flunkie working at the food court in the student center, especially in the days when i also had the long, nasty, ugly, and impossible to miss, strikingly and naturally red goatee.
it never failed... i would shave off the goatee in january (a tradition completely without rhyme or reason), and then the incidences of "ma'am"s would increase dramatically. so i guess i should've been prepared for what would happen when i decided not too long ago to go clean indefinitely...
From: muppet To: elysse Date: Tue, 2 Nov 1999 10:21:35 -0500 Subject: 'scuse me, ma'am
did i mention that absolutely no one called me sir yesterday? everyone called me ma'am. the plane arrived at the terminal in atlanta, but i had to go to concourse C to catch the connection (there are T, A, B, C, D, and E, if you've never been there, pretty huge, but not as huge as DFW). as i'm walking out, carrying my strat and wearing the coat, with my hair down, this old woman (maybe 60 or 80, i couldn't tell) next to me says, "excuse me, young lady, but where are you going? Concourse C? well, i'm going to C21 and i don't know how to get there. might i walk with you?" didn't faze her when i spoke in my real voice. i dunno if she could even tell. so i walked her down the escalators to the tunnels that lead to the other concourses and realized that this old woman probably doesn't want to walk, and i don't really want to get on the trains (i like to walk), so i point her to the trains, tell her "everything is really well marked; just get on this train, it will take you to C, and then you walk up more escalators just like this and your gate will be really close be." and besides, i had a two hour layover... so i show up several minutes later in C, and she's settled in a chair by C21 reading a book... the lady at the counter at wendy's called me ma'am right before i asked her for a frosty. the guy taking tickets at the gate said "thank you ma'am, have a nice flight," the guy at the booth for long-term parking called me ma'am maybe three times.
does no one look at anything but hair?
and so i'm sitting at rally's last night... i'm wearing a grey t-shirt with a "disc-go-round" logo, a pair of blue jeans and a pair of plum high-top chuck taylors. my hair is down. i've removed the charcoal-colored wool flaneur's jacket. some little toddler at the next table sees me and starts waving. i wave back. the father sees the kid waving, and glances over his shoulder. "you waving at that woman?" the father asks the little kid. i say nothing. i pretend i didn't hear it.
what can you do when someone addresses you with the wrong sex? what's the proper etiquette for telling someone, "sorry, you've completely screwed up and maligned my manhood and insulted my family"? (not to imply that this is how i interpret such events, but i know people who do have such reactions...) it's quite an interesting case study in sociology, one might think. i typically say nothing, since "ma'am" and "man" are roughly homophonous, it could've been a hearing mistake, right? i give them the benefit of the doubt and go on as though nothing was wrong. the speaker will usually realize immediately that it was a mistake. some people fall all over themselves apologizing, others also pretend nothing was wrong. who's right, who's wrong? (doesn't matter to me, really...) still other people, such as the aforementioned old lady, i think never even catch on. denial is a powerful thing.
of course, this works both ways. halloween night i went out in drag with elysse. we went to a pool hall. it was convincing drag, since i used my own hair and she did a good job with the makeup and all that, so nobody really seemed to notice. the weird part was that i was now noticing men... men looking at me. doing to me what i've done to women all my life, without shame, without trying to hide it (as most of these guys were trying to do): looking up and down, and focusing on the breasts, the ass, and sometimes even the face. i was blown away by this. (granted, elysse had to point it out to me... she was rather stunningly decked out herself, but i think they were looking at me because i'd become the tall blonde. this seems to be a common thing --- the blonde may be a dog in comparison with her brunette and auburn and black-haired companions, but men will pay more attention to her simply because she has yellow hair, real or no.) one guy stopped at our table and asked us if we needed another player (hmm, let's have an odd number of players, that makes sense!), and assured us that he'd be at the bar if we changed our minds. the guy at the next table, who'd been sneaking glances at both of us while playing pool with his own date, got a disgusted look on his face when we stared a little too longingly at one another at one point --- he had that "damn, they're lesbians" expression.
but the best... i'd been careful all night not to speak. some people just don't handle guys in drag very well, even on halloween, so i preferred to lay low. our table sat right in front of the back door to the place, with a crashbar for exit and a "no re-entry" sign. some college-aged-looking dude came by while i was taking a sip from my drink and asked me, "hey, will you let me back in this door if i knock?" without thinking, i looked him in the eye and said, "sure," and looked back to the table. according to my partner in crime, this dude's eyes opened wide and he did a bit of a double-take.... but he didn't say anything. i realized almost immediately that i'd goofed... when the guy came back, i was taking my shot, so elysse let him in, and he bolted across the room to a table of what were obviously his friends on the far wall. he stood there, gesticulating and talking in an unmistakable fashion... and his friends looked our way, and back at him, and back our way... later, when we were ready to leave, we had to track down our waitress, the one with the angel wings and the glitter and the really short skirt. she was off in the corner by these guys' table. so we walked over there. i didn't say a word, just watched people. there was one dude setting up a shot, but he didn't take it, just stood there for a really long time while we got our waitress and she led us past them again on the way to the register. this dude's head was turned toward the table, but his eyes kept darting up to me. he couldn't hide it very well --- he was dying to look, but didn't want to be obvious about it. you could almost taste it in the air, the question on these guys' minds: "is it a she or isn't it?!?"
people are funny.
Thu Nov 4 23:55:32 EST 1999