Pronoun Ping-Pong

The other day at lunch time, I went to the mall near my office – to a jewelry store I frequent. I’ve been going there for about five years or so, and the same salesperson – a woman in her fifties – usually takes care of me. She knows I’m married (as I’ve bought enough stuff there for my wife) and have kids. And while it has never come up in conversation, I know she recognizes I’m ‘different’ – and it has never seemed to bother her in the least.

I went to order my wedding band to match the one I gave my wife for our twentieth anniversary – it’s a special order and I wanted to make sure she like the band before I ordered mine. Barbara (the salesperson) was checking on the availability and and prices and needed to consult with the manager – a woman in her late thirties who also knows me. Their conversation went something like this:

  • Barbara : “This is the price we told him a few weeks ago.”
  • Manager : “But she knew the price might go up.”
  • Barbara : “Remember, he purchase the other band for his wife.”
  • Manager : “Did she pick it up yet?”
  • Barbara : “Yes, the other week.”
  • Manager : “Oh, she did? ” – turns to me – “How did she like it?”
  • Me : “My wife loved it. That’s why I’m back to order mine.”
  • Manager : “Great!” – to Barbara – “Give it to her for what we originally said.”

My gaze shifted from one to the other – and I watched my gender flip/flop – as they referred to me in their conversation: Barbara referring to me as ‘he/him’ and the manager referring to me as ‘she/her’ – neither fazed by the seeming incongruity of the conversation – neither bothering to ask me ‘which is correct’ or to apologize for using the ‘wrong’ identifier – not that I cared. Each had decided ‘what I was’ and I found it interesting / amusing that the manager continued to address me in the feminine despite Barbara’s use of masculine pronouns and the discussion of my wife. I can only assume that what she ‘saw’ overrode what she heard.

Where others might have been frustrated by the lack of ‘consistency’, I have to say I felt just a small sense of pride at my success in ‘queering’ the binary – presenting as ‘both and neither’ at the same time.

“I love it when a plan comes together.” 🙂

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 25, 2007 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    i wrote about this very topic here after reading little light’s post here.


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