28 November 2007

I'll Make Someone a Really Great Husband

Sometimes in the pursuit of not being someone else, you become something far more difficult to explain and, sometimes, even impossible to stop.

I say the above because it has become clear to me...both over the holiday weekend excursion to Virginia with WR and these last two days since my return at The Home Depot®, of all places...that perhaps I've taken the definition of 'tomboy' to a new level. Quite unintentionally, mind you, but that probably doesn't matter. It's the current path that's the most enlightening...and perhaps the most damning, too.

For years, I have had very good friends who were male buddies, too...WR is the first openly gay one, but I could care less of his preference. We're not friends because of or in spite of that, but instead because he's a rare breed of gentle and patient human in these oh-so-vapid times. He's exasperatingly smart at times, too, which I admit gets the better of me sometimes (we're both wannabe 'know it all' types, but he's the far more accomplished). I've been lucky to know/have known a few men of this great nature. And all of these (mostly) fine men regard/have regarded me 'as one of their own' as a result. I'm like the kid sister they can talk their women problems over with; or I'm the girl they 'grew up' with enough right before they met their eventual marriage partners; or I'm the very dependable one they will call in case of childcare or medical emergency. And I'm also one of the few (if any others they've met) who can do this and much more while helping stain a barrister, or unload roof shingles, or dig fence posts, or argue about what is a 'true muscle car'...with some legitimacy in all. I do have the typical female moments of weakness: Jane Austen book-inspired movies, bubble baths, carefully matched bedroom linens in a decor of sage green and mauve, for instance. However, as WR pointed out again this weekend, perhaps he and I were born to the wrong gender sets: he clearly has a more reserved, absurdly gracious and mannered side, whereas I'm still trying to remember to not talk with my mouth full and remember there are other foods that require utensils to enjoy. And distinguish that Jimmy Choo is a name of a famous shoe maker, and not some potential pitching up-and-comer through the New York Yankees franchise. These are not new failings, and unfortunately WR is not the first to notice them. (Sigh.)

So, maybe WR, and Timmy, and Tommy, and Jeff, and Dwayne, and David, and a few others stretching to my cosmic 'infinity and beyond' are right: perhaps I'm going about 'finding someone' all the wrong way. Instead of trying to be 'good wife material' to a manly man kind of guy, I should be trying to be a bit more me...which is not, generally, of anything 'typical'. Unfortunately, the real me is more along the lines of a good can-do, 'honey do' list material. And that, dear friends, will scare away (I'm guessing almost) all potentially-available straight men.

I'll give you an example: over the weekend, under the super courteous yet all-knowing eye of WR's Mama and WR, I found myself watching several college football games of some import. Now football is not a particularly alien game to me...I actively played it for years until I was asked forced to quit in my tween days because I was a girl (and, more honestly, because I played dirty against the boys...I admit it). I played defense, even, and frankly loved every minute of it. I couldn't play baseball like my beloved Dad did (or at least not to a level where he was not embarrassed to see me play in front of strangers), but I could play football. And I tried to play basketball for a bit, but just had to settle for being a devout fan instead (especially for my Larry Bird-era Boston Celtics). But football, for me, had all been so fun, so amusing, so joyful...until that gender thing entered the scene. (Back then, as politically correct as the Midwest is famous for, one simply did not challenge such 'gender expectations'. As ungrateful as this may sound, I actually was damn lucky that I could even play as long as I did...especially when I had been a very disgruntled 'cheerleader' for the Pee Wee League back at maybe age 8. Somewhere, to my horror, my Mama still has that cheerleader pic of red jersey with white fringe over a body-length white leotard...if not the demon seed uniform itself...just waiting to embarrass the living hell out of me someday.) Sports is a passion for me, in a way that expensive clothes or smelly candles or diamond jewelry never, ever will be.

So on Saturday...surrounded by WR's bubbly, quick-witted, and gregarious family...I had to catch myself from being 'me' a few times, for fear that 'rah rah tomboy' would come out in some unexpected fashion and be exposed in some horrific manner. (Which I think it did briefly, but I can't remember if it was during the Virginia/Virginia Tech game in the afternoon, or the Missouri/Kansas headliner that night.) In all honestly, though, I hated it when I did self-censor. Not wanting to embarrass WR was one thing, surely, but not wanting to be socially or culturally out of step (especially in comparison to his sweet sister-in-law, forever now dubbed Ms Liner as she does the most incredible lip liner application I have ever seen) was the more woeful dilemma for me. So, Saturday, I had all the defensive lines plays for Missouri rattling around in my brain, but I dare not utter them for fear I'd look even more 'full on' (to borrow yet another description handed to me from an Aussie 'brother') than usual. Enter the curse of pretending to be what it means to be a woman: know something, but say nothing or less.

Arrrgh. If I could just make myself love scrapbooking, or manicures, or preventing laugh lines and wrinkles. Or could listen to my friends' worries about diaper rash care while keeping a straight face. But, noooo, I sat there, watching the colour telly, and had to theorize how many times Kansas' quarterback Todd Ressing would be sacked that night...and why.

The last two nights have further reinforced things, as I've been inseparable from the major home hardware stores in prep for the apartment move (which thankfully commences this weekend). No matter what the project...the perfect replacement ceiling fan for the living room, some crown moulding trim piece for my TV cabinet, a few understated fabric vertical blinds, varied trellis supports for the flowers I can't even plant for months...I am in 'the zone', as of late, of My Abundant Tomboy. Just like the excitement I had when watching and understanding the college football games, I felt the same surge of joy when I rounded the corner tonight and found both area rugs and carpet tile squares (with 'easy installation' perks, too) are on sale through Christmas. Some women go a bit misty eyed at the prospects of buying lotions at Victoria's Secret®, but I practically salivate at the hope I can re-tile my kitchen table in a mosaic design once this move is complete. Italian mosaics with a rounded bull nose trim, to be exactly precise even.

Tonight, though, I came face-to-face with the 'need' for treatment. Another customer at The Home Depot® thought I was an employee there and came over asking for advice. A sweet-looking woman, probably a mom to a soccer child or two I reasoned. And, as we women are shown how to do practically since our first imaginary tea parties, she came up to me apologizing profusely for not knowing what item to ask for, where to find it, even what it really is supposed to do...poor, poor dumb me...that sort of thing. After explaining I wasn't an employee, but would help as much as I could (the place seemed exceptionally short-staffed considering it wasn't terribly busy) to help, she was relieved. Within 20 minutes and with the use of some well-intended college-student muscle of another shopper, Ms Timid was the proud hunter of 2 small topiary trees, 2 matching self-watering urns, some stainable chair rail trim for her formal dining room, and some motion sensor lights for her back deck...and she also now knows the basics of how to install and/or use each properly. Furthermore, she'll be back to one of the clinics this weekend to learn basic tiling. I was proud: another DIY sister had found her calling.

And then she said it.

"You're one of those independent type of ladies, aren't you?" Ms. Timid asked. "Not one to wait for a man to do things for you, or hire people out, right?"

Half walking away, I barely heard her question. But, after having her repeat it again, I nodded silently. I have to admit, though, I was worried what I was actually nodding my approval to, exactly.

She smiled as she headed for the check out station. Her Timidness thanked me again and touched my arm. "It's okay, hun, either way. Having a man around isn't that great of a thing sometimes, believe me. And, after all, you're going to make some guy a really great husband some day." [my emphasis] Followed by giggles and more smiles.

Shortly afterward, she left as I waited to be helped at the returns desk. She gave me a big smile again, mouthed 'bye', and left, newly motivated.

And then, perhaps much later than it should have, My Inner Tomboy realized she may not have been really paying me a compliment. A husband, eh? Yikes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I mean WOW!!!!

I apologize that I helped precipitate this crisis. I realized as soon as I uttered the words "we really were born the wrong sex" that it was not the most polite (?) statement. It is quite amazing how much "stuff" can be contained in such a short sentence. I learned to be comfortable with my feminine side a long time ago. Lets face it, I wear kilts, crochet, garden and enjoy rugby and football (only with good company). My statement was in jest, not knowing it would cause such an existential meltdown.

My response to you is to just keep being yourself. Do the things you enjoy. Putter around in your workshop/craft center to your heart's content. Do not let the Ms. Timids of the world bother you. Deep down, I bet they wish they had the skill, courage and experience to make someone a "good husband".